‘The Unacquainted Twins’
POSITIVES, NEEDS and HOPES
Have you ever met people who should know each other, perhaps they are essentially the same, but look like they have never met?
I introduce to you Arsenal 2018–19!
Shows up one in three.
An intense team with laser focus that starts finishes and does the bit in the middle with an impressive collective intentionality.
Players press with twice the foot speed, play quicker, sacrifice for their team and finish with ease.
A team, dare I say it that looks like it could compete with anyone.
Shows up 2 in 3 it seems.
Starts in an overly cautious manner, looks somewhat baffled with over instruction and particularly their defensive responsibilities.
They lack rhythm and seem to make it up as they go along. The forwards look sluggish and their confidence seems to slide quickly. The defending goes from not very good to atrocious.
They can still pick up victories by muddling through somehow but the performance offers little hope.
Last night did not have to be ‘Bad Arsenal’ but ended up that way. The defending was not atrocious and at times was very solid but much like the rest of the performance, it lost any inspiration as we failed in every area.
The midfield lacked rhythm as they made it up as they went along and the forwards went from unlucky to sad faced then utterly uninspired.
Arsenal needed warriors. We needed them to sort out their game rather than go into a shell because their main warrior was sent off.
For Arsenal to make top 4 in an extremely tough league situation and progress in a very competitive Europa League they need to stop acting like unacquainted twins.
I fully understand that ‘Good Arsenal’ cannot show up every week, but two out of three is needed if we are to fulfil our potential.
* I liked how there was a clear plan to double team Sarr and not let Ben Arfa run with the ball more than 7 yards without a foul or a body on him.
I do wonder if our fast start, was intentional based on these two players. If you give players like these two the time and space to counterattack into swathes of grass because you are chasing the game then they can pull you apart.
* Iwobi’s goal should be replicated on the training field. That whipped cross to the back post and between the keeper and defensive line is by far the best type of cross.
Always remind yourself of what your opponent does not want you to do and make a conscious choice to do that.
* For an hour the defensive organization was very good. We looked very solid but much like previous performances, one important defender leaves the game and others lose belief. Shame.
* Cech made some good decisions on some difficult shots. He has a similar situation to Buffon (who also doesn’t play every week), but pushed shots away from danger rather than into it.
* I find great hope in Emery’s ability to nullify. If Arsenal what to go up levels then we will be playing better players and better teams. We have to have a coach that can nullify individual and collective threats and we have one.
* Well done Mkhi for playing right back and playing it well in a tough situation.
* As strange as it may sound we may well do better being two goals behind going into the second leg. There is absolute clarity as to how we need to start the game at the Emirates. Sometimes teams do better in a two-legged tie knowing that they only have one option rather than getting caught deciding between two.
* Was Sokratis being over aggressive in areas of non-danger?
* I feel that we lack belief in combinations in the final third. I wonder if that is linked to the players not feeling very free from the defensive responsibilities and not wanting to commit to offensive actions.
* I often see Auba unprepared. He has a tendency to be flatfooted on crosses unless the ball is passed in front of him. With Lacazette out, we cannot afford for him to be so ineffective in all areas again.
* With discussion everywhere about contentious refereeing decisions in Europe this week I have a very clear thought. I have always felt that referees need to be 100% sure, before they send off a player. I am not sure how he could have been 100% sure that Sokratis was the one initiating his second yellow card because my eyes tell me that it was the other way around. That changed everything, unfortunately.
* When ‘Bad Arsenal’ shows up the first thing that I see is that we do not look secure in possession.
* I notice that teams are setting traps for our central midfielders. The false sense of security thing and then they pounce on Xhaka or Guendouzi.
* That Auba and Laca return to form and go on a run.
* It is certainly worth keeping an eye on Sarr. Looks to be a very good player and lightning quick too.
* If I only Hatem Ben Arfa was not an idiot. I remember reading an opinion a while back from a top player that I respected (wish I could remember who) and his point was that he is second only to Messi at running with the ball. He would be exactly what we need on the wing at Arsenal but I think the idiot thing is very real.
Rennes had what we need.
A powerful, lightning quick winger with an eye for goal and a highly dangerous dribbling technician that can open up space for others.
My point is less about Sarr and Ben Arfa but more about the fear that haunts me…… that when we buy a winger or two in the summer we will look back at this season and say,
‘they would’ve been the missing link that could’ve gotten us Top 4 or a European trophy!
I sure hope I am wrong.