On Wednesday afternoon Arsenal played their latest friendly at the Emirates before the restart. We lost the game 3-2 to promotion chasing Brentford. I don’t like doing analysis as much, but this is something that I must point out because something isn’t right. With myself being a grassroots player and knowing some of the rules of defending (more of sayings), although it is not ideal this is where we need to improve if we are to contest for Europe next year.
But during the highlights there is something that is showed that can be looked at as to question what the players involved meant to do. The first goal we conceded was due to Luiz trying to flick the ball over an opposing player and being unable to win a strength competition in a two on one pressing situation. As soon as the opposition turn to go forwards, there is no urgency to win the ball back. the opposing player is given free roam to run straight at the defence with no real pressure and you can count about four to five players retreating away from him. By the time the Brentford players are in the box they already have a chance to score a goal.
The second comes from a defensive position where Kolasinac has headed away a cross where it bounces away to Lacazette who is forced to hold up the ball and loses it to the oncoming pressed Brentford player; who goes on to get the assist. You can see Lacazette’s frustration about not being helped, half the players are still coming out of the box and don’t seem to be paying much attention or understand that he needed some assistance, or they were marking an opposing player.
The final Brentford goal comes from again a press that starts from the wide areas of the pitch and then them losing the ball and able to win it back quickly against what seems to be Joe Willock, who again seemingly isn’t told that there is a man on.
Just from this display from a highlight point of view may not show the whole story but it is alarming that the urgency wasn’t 100% there. Firstly, yes, I know it’s a friendly, and that the whole teams there but as of today there is only a week until the first restart. Which is against Man City. A game which there will be pressing from the opposition and a lot more urgency needed around the defending third of the pitch.
The three main points I must take away from the highlight video:
Lack of awareness, looking at Laca’s hand in one of the Brentford’s goal where he is pressured to hold the ball off is something he does well especially in the final third. but there is no awareness to give a short pass to a teammate and a lack of runs from them as well. In defending; this is worse there is no awareness to get back quickly and help defend for players as well as an urgency to see what could possibly happen (take for example the two on ones; which lead to scoring opposition).
Lack of communication, this is down to the individuals to tell teammates that they need help when defending; to initiate the press and so on. Yet it was shown in the instance that Lacazette being forced to hold up the ball in the defending third that there is a lack of communication within the team to ask for the ball or even to tell him he has another player on him when he can’t see what’s behind him. Or maybe there is another issue.
The lack of pressing the opposition is a concern. Before even starting to press there are a few questions, one of the major ones being if there is any danger you leave your position to press. In the case of Luiz giving the ball away, he left his position to go forwards with the ball and losing it, then Brentford are going forwards and there isn’t a press on the advancing players, causing no delay to their attack or to even deny an opportunity.
With about a week to make sure that the Gunners are in some good form and ready to go. It is a wakeup call as apprentice and master go head to head for the very first time. Like I said in my previous piece, this restart is a welcome distraction and hope that it goes well. But if we continue to have these issues defending then it could be a stream roll for Man City next week
A football lover from an early age, who began to support Arsenal in my early years. I never got to go to Highbury to see any games or even the tour, something I wished I was able to do. I play disability football as well and appreciate the support that the Arsenal Foundation has given the local community, which I have raised money for previously.