Winning the fight, punched in the gut.
Positives, Needs and Hopes
I wrote that word 5 hours ago and had to walk away.
It felt like all my son wanted for Christmas was some balloons. I got the balloons. He was so, so excited. Then the evil kid next door came over, looked him straight in the eye and popped them. All of them.
I’ve been writing these blogs for a while now and never complained about a referee, but Craig Pawson is the kid next door in the story above.
Simple decision that he’d been making all game. Jorginho should’ve gone at 1-0. He then wouldn’t have equalized and I’d say we win comfortably.
I’m gutted and I’m sure you are too, but my feeling is not so much self-focused, but a feel of empathy for Mikel Arteta.
I just feel that if any coach deserves a ‘bounce’ it’s him.
He showed up and dove head first into a disaster of a season with 5 mins to fix it and one tough game after the other. His list of positive changes is larger than any I’ve seen in a long while. Most teams get a bounce just based off the energy and accountability that a new coach brings. Not only did Arteta bring that but has turned us from a directionless team into a fluid, compact unit in 2 games and 4 training sessions.
For those who even think for one second that Chelsea coming back in the second half is Arteta’s fault, I say you haven’t been paying attention.
That was entirely on Unai Emery.
Arteta made yet another smart decision to have us sit back in the second half.
As I said back in October, Arsenal will run out of gas during Christmas and in February onwards because Emery had the team playing basketball. No compact team, no high line but end to end football, game after game. Exhausting.
With the team not winning the coach can’t rotate much at all as results become desperate.
It was obvious that the players were instructed to go hard in the first half knowing that we don’t have the stamina to do that for 90 mins and win.
I was genuinely worried when Emery was in charge. Worried that our sleepy board wouldn’t act, and we would slide into the relegation zone.
I’m not worried at all about Arsenal’s future as I think it’s very exciting now.
When the confidence and happiness returns and marries, the mind of Arteta we will fly.
Arteta is just stuck in dealing right now with the fallout of other people’s mistakes. Be it Emery for killing our stamina, the club for waiting too long to appoint him, Craig Pawson, Leno’s uncharacteristic error or mindless Mustafi.
This gets happier ↙️
* The future is very bright.
I can honestly say that I’ve not been so excited about our long-term future for about 15 years.
I have full confidence that we will go on a winning run. Not sure when as Arteta has been hamstrung by Emery sapping our energy and he does have 1 hand tied behind his back as far as the money situation at the club.
He knew all this though, so I don’t feel sorry for him and I’d imagine he doesn’t feel sorry for himself either.
* Here is my list of what I see that Mikel Arteta has done in 2 weeks….
- a) doubled our energy and intensity from kick off.
- b) turned us into a compact block, far from the frequent days of watching 15-30 shots rain down on us.
- c) opened our hips and got us taking advantage of attacking opportunities
- d) relocated players to their area of strength, eg; Torreira was lost and ineffective. Now he’s the beast we thought we’d signed.
- e) Mentality. We were hiding and playing reactive football. Now proactive.
- f) Belief. First it was the way he talks. Such natural authority and clarity. Some are big talkers but can’t back it up. Arteta is clearly doing his part.
Coaches are supposed to help. There is no doubt that Arteta is a great help. Compare his influence to that of Emery, who was honestly a hindrance.
- g) He’s made us more aggressive. Consistently winning balls, we weren’t before.
- h) we were so lost offensively. We now have patterns of play that are attracting pressure then switching to free our creator, more players in the box and much movement off the ball.
- i) I see clear improvement in Luiz, AMN, Saka, Torreira, Xhaka, Ozil, Auba and Nelson.
- j) Luiz can be both a hero and an accident. Playing like a hero currently.
AMN is getting better every game. I think the future surprise that some will struggle to handle is that he has a higher ceiling than Bellerin who lacks confidence in the opponent’s half and almost always passes the buck.
Saka isn’t a left back and is barely an adult, but you’d never know looking at how he’s stepped in.
Torreira was disillusioned and wanting to leave. Been the MOTM two games running. That’s a change of mentality as well as performance in 2 weeks.
Xhaka is off I’m sure. I think that’s good for all. Think about that though. He knew that when we played AFCB and he played his best game for a year. I wonder who motivated him to do that?
Ozil playing well and making the difference in a big game. Didn’t think I’d ever see that until I saw him playing for Inter Miami against Chicago Fire.
If he can reignite the flame in Ozil into the guy whose social media tag line of ‘can I assist you?’ has not been relevant for at least 2 years, then we have a player worth building around again.
Aubameyang is getting his goals back but that was never the concern. Did you see him tracking runners and making big tackles? I thought he was de-motivated and wanted out?
I always compare Nelson to his best friend, Sancho. Such similar abilities. It’s clear that the coaches recognize his very high ceiling and want to invest in him. When he starts to make good decisions in the final third, Arsenal have an £80M player on their hands.
* Loved seeing a full stadium at kick off again.
Concerned and baffled that at 1-2, people left.
* I read something very interesting pre-game and maybe you did too…
@gunnerblog told a story of getting to the Bournemouth game early and watching the pre-match rondo.
He stated that there was a marked difference in the intensity of the rondo under Arteta than Emery. He noted that the ‘Emery team’ treated it as a giggle vs the ‘Arteta team’ who treated it seriously.
I think this speaks very loudly.
* Our sports science department will take care of player fatigue, but there is still a natural concern that Aubameyang is still scoring by himself and playing every game.
Torreira has run around like a lunatic for 3 games in a row. AMN and Saka have had no help either and it doesn’t look like any is coming, especially for Saka.
* Nelson (like Pepe), needs to run behind when Ozil turns. Both are quick but both stop short and ask for it to their feet. Whoever has played right wing this season looks like they are told, ’you have great skill under intense pressure, so wait for the crowd and make sure you make your life as difficult as possible.’
* Guendouzi’s short term future is in the balance. He was recently in the French squad. Hardest squad in world football to get in. He is now becoming a bit of a liability. He takes too many risks and is addicted to trying to be the hero. Until we get another midfielder in, we will need him.
* Leno is giving me the Mustafi’s.
It’s not the goal, it’s his distribution.
It’s once every game that he passes it to a midfielder under pressure or under weights his pass.
* Aubameyang is so important to current Arsenal. His goals are pivotal. I’ve always thought that he plays to not get injured, which on some level is smart. There is almost no risk of getting injured when you are side by side with an opponent and he willingly gets shoved out the way.
* “Hey, Skhodran, come here. You played like a ruddy hero and then chucked it all away. Again.
Listen man, if in doubt, don’t do it and for the sake of everyone you are affecting, please stay focused for the entirety of your time on the field. Thank you. Now go to Bologna on loan with an obligation to buy.”
* Hoping Saka had cramp and not a hamstring. AMN will have to go to left back and Bellerin has to step in.
Hoping Chambers is ok.
* Arsenal need Bellerin, Holding, Ceballos and Martinelli to be fit for Wednesday.
* Arsenal need a play maker we trust.
I have an answer and it’s controversial with the few I’ve shared it with.
I’ll let you read my new ‘transfer blog’ on Le Grove (coming out any day now) on potential purchases in Central Midfield. One upcoming on Strikers too.
Due to Emery’s sin of allowing ‘Arsenal basketball’ for 4.5 months we will need some loans to increase the size of our squad.
I have an idea of the type player I’m talking about.
We need a player who hasn’t played much, that has energy to burn. A player that can’t afford to just be a squad player because it’s his last chance to play at the Euro’s. A player with high standards playing for a good team. Preferably a player who is versatile and can help when our plays fall like skittles.
There are many of this type available.
The specific player I’m thinking of is Adam Lallana. He fits all the above.
I just wonder if he wants to leave the Liverpool party?
The Rabiot rumours are finding this exact player too.
Jonas Hector is another. Can fill in at LB and CB.
The Jerome Boateng rumour is one I’ve suggested previously and would be a genius move.
In the short term, he is better than all of our centre backs and long term if he proved himself as worthy, we need an experienced partner for Saliba, I’d imagine.
Foden isn’t at last chance saloon but could easily get into the England squad and possibly the team. City have given him false hope for years and Arsenal could really use him on loan.
To relieve Aubameyang and other attackers there are players desperate to play in the Euro’s in his position too… Mertens, Rebic, Alcacer, Draxler, Giroud, Piatek, Volland, Ousmanne Dembele, Jovic and the insanely talented Rafael Leao.
* This is not an easy call as we need a win badly, but due to the huge fatigue risk I’d be very tempted to give certain players a winter break (5 days off) and risk chucking the FA Cup. Now we have Arteta we have a real chance of CL qualification through Europa and keeping / attracting certain players.
* When Leeds come to the Emirates, watch Kalvin Phillips closely. For me, he is the best English DM. No idea why Southgate hasn’t tried him yet.
There are four parts to football.
Technical, Tactical, Physical, Mental.
Mikel Arteta in 2 games, 4 sessions, 2 weeks has improved Arsenal Football Club in every area.
Happy New Year! @mike_mmcdonald