Arsenal barely take three points from lowly Terriers under the watchful eye of The Worrier – Match Review [Positive Needs 7 Hopes]


Intensity or Exhaustion… The clear Arsenal style


That was absolutely maddening.
Almost embarrassing.

I’ll get on to that (see first point in ‘NEEDS section), but for now I want to talk about a theme that I see.

There has been much talk recently about what Emery’s style is. Almost all of that talk is based on what we are doing on the ball. One of the biggest problems for many years has been off the ball. I think that we have a clear style off the ball.… we are either intense or look exhausted.

Arsenal today looked like my U-17 club team trying to play a final in one of the crazy youth soccer tournaments here in the United States. When we are fortunate to get that far it is evident to all that the team that is the least exhausted will win. It is normally your fourth, fifth or sixth game of the weekend!

This was illuminated to me when Dennis Suarez came on. He started pressing with intensity. He was the only player that did that the entire game!
I am fully aware that you cannot press with intensity all game, every game in England. I think there is a balance. I think you do it at certain periods of the game based on the opponent and score.

I don’t know if they are being told to play at 60% (“as it should be enough”), if there is a ‘lost in translation’ issue or simply that our players are truly exhausted from over playing/training.
I do know though that almost all Premier League teams will give a big physical effort regardless of league position, so you roll the dice by not doing so.

I haven’t been negative to Emery all season long as I think he needs a full season to adapt especially since I think he inherited an undisciplined mess on the field and a very much imperfect situation off it.

I will say this though… If that game lasted five more minutes I think Huddersfield would’ve scored again and there would’ve been some true heat on Unai Emery.

I’m not going over the top as the ‘we are brilliant/we are terrible’ brigade is lazy and brainless.

I will say however, that I think that ‘the exhausted Arsenal’ needs to change or progress will only ever be limited.

Koscielny (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)


* Without Koscielny we may lose that. This was his best game since his return. It would be joyful if he could continue to contribute at Arsenal even as a rotational squad player. I lose track/couldn’t care less who is captain from game to game but if it was Kos then he played like one.

* Leno made two very important saves at critical times. If he could lose the need in coming for crosses that he has no chance of getting then for me he is the long term solution.

* Monreal never takes long to get his groove. Always impresses me with his consistency.

* Tactically, the second goal was a success for Emery. When the ball was central, Iwobi and Mkhi tucked inside allowing AMN the freedom of the wing.

* We have conceded less goals than any PL team from corners this season (1).
This is a clear Emery improvement.

* The only part of the second half I enjoyed was seeing our team (yet again) defend a player being surrounded when the pushing and shoving starts.


* I refuse to believe that our half time instruction was to take the initiative and attempt to close the goal difference gap against the weakest team in the league. My sarcasm is real. This is what I would’ve done, no doubt.
Against a better team you could claim that ‘we couldn’t get out’ but not against ‘11 points Huddersfield.’
It is not the first time this season that we have finished a half strongly and then backed off (Chelsea away).

Emery: The Worrier

Emery: The Worrier

I’d love to know from someone who has worked with Emery but I see a ‘worrier.’
He paces the sidelines, doesn’t seem to trust his players as he constantly instructs, sets us up in an unnecessarily negative way when we have the initiative, hardly ever starts on the front foot but regularly starts with over caution and generally comes across as a guy who lets his nerves dictate his actions.
It took me a while to believe this as he is the epitome of calm in front of the camera but perhaps that is because he is acutely aware of his nerves.
So, I wonder if the lack of fluidity at Arsenal is down to over coaching with too much information being relayed to the players for them to play with confidence?

* It came out midweek that Emery thinks Mavropanos is nervous and error prone and this is why he hasn’t put him in the EL squad or trusted him in the PL yet.
He must be super error prone if he isn’t able to dislodge the ‘once a game at least’ Mustafi.
It was 4 big errors today. I counted.

* AMN has so many needed physical and technical qualities to be a top level player. To add to his repertoire he needs to be proactive when running with the ball. He is reactive and often ‘car crashed’ into the defender today.

* This was Guendouzi’s worst game for Arsenal. He looked physically shattered (they all did), took too many touches (a general improvement needed) and wasn’t available quickly enough for our back three to play through him.
This was the perfect game for Joe Willock to play. You can’t say he’s too young because they are essentially the same age. Guendouzi has been generally fantastic this season but surely every once in a while we could find out how good Willock could be and whether we could save money in the summer by promoting his minutes next season.

* The lack of passing options throughout was worrying. This was especially evident when play was in wide and deep areas. The issue wasn’t that they weren’t looking up but that they couldn’t see anything and would go long to very little effect.

* Huddersfield’s attacking strategy was to play between Monreal and Kolasinac. Our midfielders didn’t ever get close enough and get their body shape right to deny ball to Diakhaby who caused too many problems.

Alex Iwobi

Credit: Getty Images

* In my opinion, Arsenal will be a regular potent attacking threat when Alex Iwobi becomes a squad player rather than a regular first teamer.
He is certainly a good player and today he showed more positive signs in the first half.
To sum it up, when he does something great I’m surprised. This emotion makes me question the doubt I must have in him.
I think that he has played enough games to not be considered a young player and lacks consistency during the game and from game to game. For us to push on to be a Champions League team I’m not seeing a player like Iwobi in any of those other teams starting so regularly.


* Arsenal will also be moving forward when our line ups are not based on securing the defensive end but based on taking the attacking initiative.

Many have stated pre-game this season that they don’t understand why we have 5 defenders plus 2 or 3 more defensive midfielders.
I think it’s because the coaches don’t trust the defence to play a back four more regularly and play someone like Ramsey in a three man midfield.
I also think that the success we’ve had with Kola going forward has dictated too.

* This summer could turn our club around.
I added up the transfer fees and wages we could have available from sales and I think we add £100M and £900,000 a week.
Add to this that we have a very promising generation of young players and some very interesting players on loan that could save us money.
Could Chambers (with most interceptions in PL) replace ElNeny?
Nelson replace the high wages of Mkhi?
Willock and ESR replace Ramsey’s minutes?


Krystian Bielik

The really interesting one is Bielik.

He has having a stellar season at Charlton and has had equal time in his career as a CD as a DMid.
We don’t have a physically imposing midfielder and he is a monster!

* Start looking at which good players are not getting the minutes that their talent deserves. Mahrez may be replaced at City.
Also, those that are likely to get relegated and therefore be on the cheap. Seri was wanted by Barcelona last summer amongst others. Perhaps he is not suited to PL or maybe he’s on the wrong team?

* The strong Rabiot rumor is considered to be a Ramsey replacement. Ramsey may be considered a midfielder at Arsenal but plays as a attacking midfielder/low forward more than a central midfielder.
If we get Rabiot I think he is clearly an upgrade on Xhaka. Similar controller and passing range but with mobility and line breaking penetration.

* I hope that I stop reading about Mesut Ozil and why he is not picked!
I fully understand that we are all guessing but all the pieces of information are out there.

The club want him to leave as he doesn’t perform anywhere near his level on a consistent basis and earns four times more than most. Arsenal need to reduce the wage bill and need additional transfer funds. He wants to stay. Emery’s decision to not play him is to encourage him to leave.


I just looked at the league table.

We are level with Chelsea and 1 point off Utd. Chelsea playing City today.

Somehow after yet another yucky performance we are well in it.

Let’s hope that the PL don’t start giving points for style as well as victories and draws as Arsenal are not yet in the position to get many 😳

Follow @mike_mmcdonald and @GunnersTown

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2 Responses to Arsenal barely take three points from lowly Terriers under the watchful eye of The Worrier – Match Review [Positive Needs 7 Hopes]

  1. John Eno February 11, 2019 at 3:07 am #

    Even when Iwobi plays well you still find ways to belittle him in your post.
    All I see here is a super racist.
    It’s obvious you write articles with sentiment and also coach with sentiment.
    Which is why you have not produced one top/known player from “Mike McDonald Soccer Academy”(who names an cademy that?) for 27 years.
    Moreso it’s the main reason you haven’t won an academy trophy for 27 years and more!

    • Mike February 11, 2019 at 1:57 pm #

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

      Just so you know, I started my Academy which was named by the local club not myself, 4 years ago. It is for 4-8 yr olds. I’d be doing rather well to have turned them professional which is not even my goal. I just enjoy teaching the game to the kids in this small town.

      If you are interested, the previous 20+ years of my coaching career have produced two professional players. One still plays in the second tier here in the US and the other had to retire due to knee surgeries but was playing in the MLS.

      I’m sorry that you feel the need to assume that I’m a racist John. I guess I must’ve been one long before I suggested Alex Iwobi was good but should just be a squad player, because I commented on Mustafi too..
      I was completely unaware that when you comment on a player that you are automatically racist!!
      Have you ever given an opinion on a footballer?
      Whether he was white/black etc.., would that make you a racist, John?

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