The £90M Strategy: the real value in Arsenal’s new style of play

Celebrate Eddie

‘THE £90M strategy’

Positives, Needs and Hopes

by Mike McDonald

How much would you pay if you could buy winning mentality?

I’d pay at least £50M.

How much would you pay for an on ball hi-tempo?

I’d pay at least £40M.

We don’t talk about these changes pre-season as much as we do new players because you can’t buy it and we don’t believe these same players have it.

I fully understand that we’ve just played two pre season games but I sense something.
My eyes tell me that I’ve seen two games in a row where something looks different.
It’s very late where I am but unless I’m mistaken I just saw a team that hardly gave the ball away all night as they moved it significantly quicker than last season and therefore did not play under intense close pressure.
Not only does a hi-tempo make you hard to chase and tackle but it takes away the ‘telegraphed pass.’
When under tight pressure you only have one way out and your opponent senses this and if they are quick and smart they close it down, win it back and counter.
The downside to playing quickly is that you may miss a better option. This is alleviated if you open your hips. Well, even Ozil (who normally turns in an unnecessary large circle) opened his hips and played quicker.

Even more encouraging is the attitude. At no point during our youngsters playing men against the Rapids, our first team or our youngsters again against Bayern have we looked like we didn’t believe.
On the contrary, we looked entirely unafraid.

Is it the challenge of a new season, the threat of their place in the team/squad being taken or as I mentioned in my last blog, the youngsters are very good and the first team players see this and don’t want to be shown up.
If I was to guess, I’d say that the first team players have been told in no uncertain terms that they will lose their place if they don’t perform 1-90 and game to game.

Arsenal most certainly haven’t signed ‘winning mentality’ yet and without playing a PL game they haven’t closed the deal on ‘hi-tempo’ either.
Right now though, we are playing the same players yet it looks different.

I’m just impressed and I sense something.



* We have played 4-2-3-1 twice now and it has worked.
Ideally, you wouldn’t say that this is the best formation if you have to play Mkhi on the left and Auba on the right but Mkhi will be replaced by an incoming player and Auba was highly effective on the right.

* The press seemed to be coordinated better. The back four dropped off when Bayern had time and space but pushed up when we pressed in numbers.

* When AMN is playing with confidence (see first half), he looks high level going forward.
Second half he had to try to contain Coman who was so much better than his sluggish teammates.

* Auba looks like the supreme athlete and played like one.
I was perturbed all last season as I felt we didn’t play to his strengths.
His power and rapidness was given multiple counter opportunities.
More impressive to me was the fact that he used these opportunities to run at speed at their left back.

Sometimes when I’m preparing to coach I remind myself of how simple it can be.
Remind yourself of your player’s strengths…. ask yourself if they can perform them in your set up….. encourage them to be fearless and utilize their strengths.
Auba has to have space to turn on the jets, Nelson has to be allowed to dribble, Willock has to be allowed to get in the box, Lacazette is better when given the ball to his feet etc….

* Joe Willock has a little of everything. ElNeny doesn’t. Simple swap.
Willock anticipated so well, won tackles, drew fouls, passed intelligently, ran with the ball. Played like he’s been given hope of breaking through.


* Mesut Ozil always steps up against German teams, especially Bayern.
I’ve seen it too often.
Should I be fooled into thinking ‘Mesut’s back!!’
I think I’ll wait until after the Liverpool and Spurs games to start getting excited.
A waster is a frustrating person to watch. Obvious talent yet consistently inconsistent.
I loved how he always took up positions on the opposite side of the field to remove himself from the block. I enjoyed watching him play between the lines rather than come too deep.
I even saw Ozil sprint to close a player down!! I’ve seen him sprint to chase but never to close down. If you don’t believe me…. 54th minute.

* Did someone attach turbo jets to Monreal’s boots!

* Kolasinac yet again showed that he doesn’t take defending seriously yet can be highly effective going forward.
The timing of his runs when we played up, back and through was impressive.

* The goalkeepers were very good. Leno’s foot save from Muller was the product of a keeper with lightning reactions.
Martinez impressed too.

I’ve never had the opportunity to say this at the right time but I’ve thought for a while that Emi Martinez will become a top class keeper.
I don’t see an obvious weakness in his game.
He is the perfect frame for a GK, great shot stopper, comfortable in the air, two footed etc…
I predict that he will be Argentina’s number one and first choice at a top club sooner than we think.

Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez of Arsenal dives to make a save from Serge Gnabry of Bayern Munich (R) during their International Champions Cup game at the Dignity Health Stadium in Carson, California on July 17, 2019. - Arsenal went on to win 2-1. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)


* If I had one wish for one Arsenal player, I’d wish Lacazette had more deceptive movement in the box.
He’s just too easy to mark.
I think this is the catalyst for him becoming world class.

* How many goals are scored against the top teams by vertical passes given by centre backs to central midfielders under pressure. See Mustafi in the first half. See Mustafi every game actually.

* A little worried by Emery’s comment about ‘finding opportunities for the youngsters in the EL.’
Many of them are ready to feature either from the start or off the bench in the PL, in my opinion.


* I’m going to Charlotte and DC.
I would like to see Nelson start in both games. I think he’s a confident guy right now and I fear he will get worried or discouraged if he doesn’t get a fair opportunity.

* I was reading that we may go for Mariano Diaz at Real Madrid as a back up to Lacazette and Aubameyang.
Personally, I’d prefer Eddie to get this spot.

* If Bayern only want €15M for Boateng isn’t this a good idea?

Dominik Szoboszlai

Dominik Szoboszlai

* I’m trying so so hard to not get excited at the thought of Dani Ceballos playing for Arsenal.
Defence mechanism.
Same with Dani Alves and Zaha.
All three were in my ‘seven summer wishes’
If we get Dominik Szoboszlai too then I may weep tears of joy 😂


If I was Emery I’d remind the players that they beat one of the best teams in the world.
I’d spend more time however, reminding them that they weren’t fortunate but they achieved it by playing like they believed they could and by playing 2 touch hi-tempo football.

Things are looking up!


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2 Responses to The £90M Strategy: the real value in Arsenal’s new style of play

  1. Omar El-kilany July 18, 2019 at 12:46 pm #

    Excellent read mike as always, pro’s and con’s with some of our players hopefully Emery can get them working and believing in themselves

  2. sanjay merchant July 18, 2019 at 4:57 pm #

    Pre-season means nothing to me. It’s the lack of action in addressing the deficiencies in our defence, especially after the collapse late last season that should be worrying to all Gooners. Buying an 18-year-old and loaning him back to St Etienne doesn’t solve the problem. Our only real hope is that we keep Rob Holding fit and that he forges a decent partnership with Sokratis.

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