Should’ve been easy, but just too difficult!
POSITIVES, NEEDS and HOPES
One of the most impactful pre-game team talks I can remember came when I was a teenager.
My coach was a man called Roy Butler and I was playing for St.Albans. It was a big game. We were the better team on paper but you never know, right?
He only said three words, “Terrify them.” The third word was a word I’d not be proud of writing if my son reads this blog!
We thrashed them.
I look back on that and remember how motivated we were by so little.
We knew how to play. We’d practiced to a level to compete but more to the point, his words put us, the better team, on the front foot. Reminds me of what Solskjaer looks like he’s done at Utd.
Pragmatic, cautious, overly concerned by the ‘what if’s.’
These are a collection of thoughts I have when I watch Arsenal recently.
We are better than BATE. I wonder what would happen in the second leg if Emery set us up to play like the superior team we are?
For the second game running we’ve played a team that are significantly weaker than us even with all our absences yet we play with fear.
Regardless of how unsure we are about our defenders I think that they would have been fine with a back four.
We may not trust Mustafi or think that Kolasinac and AMN are suspect defensively, but aren’t they good enough to face BATE?
I’ve promoted a 3-2-3-2 this season.
They played with one up top, we needed three back. A balance of Kolasinac on left (who we did get into good areas) and Saka on right.
Why Saka? Iwobi again played well up until the final third. The game was crying out for someone to run at their full backs and go around their deep block rather than through it. Saka sounds ‘front foot’ to me.
A deep block should encourage you to shoot from 20-25 yards but Xhaka who has the best shot of our midfielders just passed the buck.
We needed a third man runner in midfield and Ramsey is going to leave having never played his best role in 11 years.
I’m absolutely not saying that I know better, I just have an opinion.
My opinion is that I pick this front foot team, tell them to use Saka to run at them, encourage Ramsey to get in the box to join 2 targets (not just Lacazette) and shoot from distance.
What we did tonight was a monotonous tale of the most complicated way to play against a deep block.
Alternatively, I’d chuck all my ideas out of the window, pick the right team and do what Roy Butler did and say nothing but “terrify them!”
* It’s half time.
* Understanding that the pitch was woeful but if you are going to play with inferiors then you have to play one or two touches between the lines.
On the rare occasions that we found Iwobi and Mkhi between the lines they took too long. Only way to pass through a deep block is with quick combinations. That hasn’t featured at all under Emery.
* One of the best new tactical improvements I’ve seen in the last few years has been done at City.
They intentionally get it wide play it backwards (defenders run out) they dart in behind and then the magic happens. The player receiving the ball hits the ball so hard across the six yard box that the defenders are fearful to touch it and the keeper is fearful to come as he will likely spill it.
The ball therefore ends up at the back post where I’d say City score at least 25 goals a season.
Nobody has copied them yet.
Just a thought.
* Apart from recycling the ball I’m unsure what Mkhi is doing?
I think he’s making the decision makers’ jobs very easy as that £175K a week could be spent on a fine winger or two.
* Would love Lacazette to learn to lose his marker in the box with two runs. He does everything under pressure.
* Time and again when playing with a back three against one forward we fail to commit to stopping the attack from developing.
The forward checks between our lines and none of our back three goes with him. This would’ve stopped many attacks.
* AMN needs to become more fluid when changing direction. When he cuts back he doesn’t use his left foot to penetrate and take advantage of the space he’s created. Cuts, waits, gets back on right foot and we recycle.
Like many others are saying, the lad seems too laid back.
I’m not going to tag him with my thoughts but I wish someone would shake him and say ‘do you understand what an opportunity you have been given?’
When Debuchy got hurt, Bellerin saw his opportunity. I think he’s more driven.
Terrify them in the second leg.
Don’t worry about the away goal. Get the crowd behind you and start like fireworks.
If they score early you’ve got over an hour to get three against a team we got six against when we played without fear.
Here are two quotes from the commentator last night.
“They simply won’t score like this. They need a bit of magic”
“That’s the first time we’ve seen a slick, quick passing movement”
The Emirates is a snooker table. Play quicker.
Put some magic on the field, Unai!
@mike_mmcdonald and @GunnersTown