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9 Positives to take from Arsenal’s win at Anfield (and one caveat: Don’t Fall In Love)

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Photo credit: REUTERS/Laurence Griffiths

Don’t fall in love

POSITIVES, NEEDS and HOPES

How often did you fall in love as a youngster?

I distinctly remember thinking that I was in love on numerous occasions.

I remember forcing the feeling. I wanted to be in love. My mates were. They told me that it was brilliant. They told me that it was especially brilliant when she says it back. I did it a few times. It was brilliant. Then Chris Miles kept getting girl’s saying it to him first. Chris Miles didn’t even have to initiate. Then it happened to me. Even more brilliant. What a time! Everybody chucking the love around.

Then my heart got broken. I got dumped. Then again. The second time was because my girlfriend was trying to play footsie under the table whilst I’m desperately trying to not be nervous at her parents house for Sunday lunch. I threw up the spaghetti all over her Mum, ran to the loo to hide and then decided to jump out the bathroom window and run 6 miles home. Probably a justifiable dumping. My Mum told me to stop falling in love. That I was jumping in too hard, too fast and forcing feelings.

I actually stopped because Arsenal taught me rather than listening to my Mum. Limpar went to Everton. My favourite Arsenal player. Then I fell for Petit and he ran off to Barcelona. I stopped falling in love until Santi Cazorla showed up and I tried so super hard to pretend that he wasn’t worth it, but alas.

As I’ve grown up its still not easy to keep distance from players that you invest so much emotion in, but even though we’ve had fewer that are worthy, I can find myself slipping.

I was watching the Carabao Cup tie and thoroughly enjoying it. I was having a hard time focusing though as my mind has been drifting for weeks to the same topic…. upgrades to Arsenal’s midfield.

I’ve found myself already starting to fall for Thomas Partey and Houssem Aouar. Two perfect upgrades. Transformative.

Then as I start to imagine a line up I get perturbed. How dare Aouar take Saka’s opportunities! Then what of Martinelli? Smith-Rowe is a similar line breaking player to Aouar. I think I love Smith-Rowe. Could he never get his opportunity? Then what of Mr. Redemption, Granit Xhaka? Partey will surely play with Ceballos and Aouar, right? Yet if our midfield is going to start opening their hips and passing forward, Granit may have to sit down. I watch Dani Ceballos take being substituted so personally and think that this may happen even more very shortly. Then I remember that the darling of the Arsenal Academy, Reiss Nelson, may not get any more chances.

Then I realize that the game is changing. It’s actually changed. More games, more intense, more injuries and therefore opportunities for many. Football is very much a squad game and our coach is very much inclined to surprising his counterparts with complex and varied ideas.

I hope I’m learning. I hope that I remember that the priority is the club. Not individuals. It’s the results, not the line ups.

I’m going to try but I sense that due to necessary competition it is going to be hard. It’s for the best but it messes with my emotions.

Don’t fall in love with the players. Their disappointments might just spoil what could be a special period for Arsenal Football Club.

Just love Arsenal.

gabriel

POSITIVES

  • As the game was wrapping up I was again trying to control my emotions by coming up with reasons why it’s ok to lose. There were some valid ones, but nothing more valid than the belief that Arsenal Football Club get from the knowledge that they’ve beaten one of the best 3 teams in world football, 3 times in the last few months.
  • Gabriel wasn’t a main feature but for a new player in a new league playing at a higher level against teams of a higher level and all this without being able to fully communicate, I am very impressed. He exudes confidence. with the ball and without it. His passes have punch to them and are not telegraphed. He is so alert and quick. Brave and strong. I’m falling in love again. Better stop.
  • I love the shape that Cedric gets on his crossing. One of the differences in a good team and a very good team is the alternatives. In a good team you have a ‘decent’ back up. Someone who isn’t better than the first choice in any area. At bigger teams, the back up might not be as well rounded but he has one or two skills that are better than the first choice. Cedric might not be as well rounded as Bellerin or AMN, but he is better at crossing. Would be nice if we had an aerial threat to get the best out of him, and a few others.
  • I always feel sorry for those players that only get one or two games in a row to prove themselves. Fans are increasingly impatient and judgmental which causes hugely unfair threads of disappointment. Players need trust and rhythm and without it only few will excel. I speak of Rob Holding who has been given both and is starting to show why he’s starting frequently.
  • The formation was fascinating. Almost a 3-5-2 with Willock (and sometimes Saka) playing in unoccupied space. This may well be something we see more of. A new tactical development. Players that are intentionally put in areas where opponents don’t want to go. Much like Kevin De Bruyne. I’d imagine if we get Aouar, it will be him or Willian that Arteta will try to get into these areas to create. I do wonder if the formation was more about the future than the present.
  • It looks like Saliba will be going on loan. Surprising to us all, but if you understand his personal situation it’s for the best. Barely out of his teenage years, moving to a new country, doesn’t speak English, HUGE expectation from fans, had a very much broken season due to injuries and covid and most valid…lost his mother. The kids head must be spinning. We will likely have to wait for the dream and trust the club on this. Sounds like they are making a very intelligent decision.
  • Pepe was Pepe. The Good, the Great and the Terrible. I was very encouraged to see him on the left as it’s certainly an option. Perhaps his biggest issue isn’t him? He is the kind of dribbler that needs opponents to bite. To their credit, they aren’t. When and if they do, he is so skillful with the ball as well as those jelly hips, he will have more success.
  • I’ve been concerned for a while that the playing out of the back is more of a risk because everyone is doing it the same way, rather than the exercise itself. If everyone is replicating then coaches know how to anticipate and intercept. I was encouraged that not only were we more effective but we varied our exit routes. Very important.
  • Two points on Leno….. 1) I commented in my last post that his distribution issue isn’t so much the kicking but that he delays it. I’ve had a second thought. Much like the players are being instructed to engage an opponent before distributing, maybe he is doing the same?
Leno-Arsenal

Credit: Arsenal

NEEDS

  • I’ve been talking here for a while now that what football needs and certainly what Arsenal need is unpredictability. With football becoming a ‘passing patterns focused coaches game,’ teams are finding it easier to anticipate. It’s either this or the players are intimidated at having a lower ‘passing percentage’ at the expense of creating, or both.
  • The clip (below) of Said Benrahma is EXACTLY what I’m talking about. It not only bamboozles the defender but shifts the entire defensive unit who were expecting him to pass it backwards.
  • If you can’t be creative in the final third without fear of being reprimanded by your coach who is over obsessed with being countered on, then you may never break through a defensive unit that simply have to rely on their muscle memory reading the same plays as if this was American Football.

  • If Pepe, who is fairly quick, could become electric over 5 yards then his lack of power and efficiency would change overnight
  • On many occasions, the ball was crossed in only for the last AFC defender to unnecessarily make a play on it when it was going out for a goal kick. This is where Leno needs to help his defenders by reading these situations and communicating early.
  • Andrea Pirlo, Glenn Hoddle, Cesc Fabregas. All had the ability to float lofted balls over the defence with the correct weight so as to not encourage the keeper. With many teams pressing high and leaving much grass behind them, we need a player who can see this early and make the pass. The runs are frequent. The passes are infrequent.
  • It’s painful watching Xhaka being pressed. It illuminates the need for a midfielder who is press resistant and is comfortable to turn. Hmmmmmmm??
  • Next topic on the coaching field needs to be creating opportunities. We are still creating very few chances. I maintain that an effective individual player will open it all up if we can just beat the first tackle in the final third and give the defenders a dilemma.

arsenal-united

HOPES

  • I would love for Reiss Nelson to get a run in the team. I do wonder if Arteta has been told that he has to make something of our 72M man in order to encourage the owners to keep investing?
  • Is Felipe Anderson a replacement for Reiss going on loan? I keep hearing rumours.
  • I think Willock is too versatile and helpful at the tale end of games to leave on loan.

FINAL THOUGHT

Klopp seems to like Arsenal. I think it’s more Arteta than Arsenal. We used to be a free 6 points for him, so the fact that we’ve won 3 in 4 must be a big shift.

I think in a few years time we will look back on this period and remember fondly how Mikel Arteta transformed Arsenal.

Just don’t fall in love with him.

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10 Responses to 9 Positives to take from Arsenal’s win at Anfield (and one caveat: Don’t Fall In Love)

  1. Graham Perry October 2, 2020 at 8:50 am #

    A great comment Mike
    Really interesting
    Thanks
    Graham P

  2. Kay October 2, 2020 at 9:19 am #

    Very nicely put. Your writing is really good. Looking forward to your next post.

  3. Francis Redemi October 2, 2020 at 9:51 am #

    Hello, lovely post and thoughts as úsual.

    One of the things I enjoyed most of our match yesterday was a return to an extent to a back four.

    Leno didn’t prove anything we didn’t already know. Saka as well and Gabriel & Holding were great at the back.

    Our main issue is that we don’t create enough chances as a team and we have been outshot by most teams since Arteta took over. Just like our 22 match unbeaten run under Emery, this stat shows there’s much work to do. A system to fully service Auba and our attackers should be fashioned out by Arteta. We have however become more difficult to beat and more organization have been introduced into our team.

    What’s clear and obvious though is that Arsenal and Arteta are on the right track as our wins over other members of the top 6 have shown. We would achieve more this season when we see who we get after the transfer window is closed.

  4. Pete the Thirst October 2, 2020 at 10:09 am #

    Great report Mike

    You have become one of the best bloggers on Arsenal in recent times. Keep it up!

    • Dave Seager October 2, 2020 at 11:23 am #

      We are proud to have him at GT

      • Pete the Thirst October 2, 2020 at 3:26 pm #

        Kudos Dave, you’re building up a nice set of writers

  5. allezkev October 2, 2020 at 10:51 pm #

    Thank you Mike, another engaging post.

    Most of us have had our favourites over the years, players that we invest in and yes Santi was a big favourite of mine as was Mertesaker in recent times, but this lot? Well I’m fond of a few but Tierney is probably the closest to being a favourite for me now.

    The late Wenger, Emery period really left me feeling quite ambivalent about our squad, it was a case of feeling that I wasn’t really bothered if the club sold any of them as I had no attachment to a group of players I’d heard described as The Uncoachables….

    This has now changed under Mikel, his fundamentals has weeded out those who don’t give a toss and we now have a squad that’s motivated and who seems to care and if the players care then so will I…

  6. Wishawk October 3, 2020 at 2:23 am #

    Hello, Mike. Great analysis again!
    About that embedded video, it’s almost like a copy of Pepe. He made a bad touch, then recovered and made a brilliant move and scored. Watching Pepe, I often wondered whether he was ever coached. He has very quick feet, but his movements were like after thoughts, and one can never predict except when he was slowed down and had to make a proper move. It might work when he has room to put the ball beyond the defenders, but in PL, all the players are equal or better than him. So he often dribbled into a wall and lost the ball. I wonder if he lost some confidence against PL level defenders. I saw a few times he slowed down and made back passes rather than taking advantage of his speed and blow by when facing one on one with the defender.

    About Smith-Rowe, I think the boy has a really good football brain by his movement and decision making. But he is not super athletic (speed and strength). And he seems to be made of glass and breaks down often so far. I wonder if it is his growth spurt or nutrition management or something natural in his body. Do we take a chance and wait for his development? Hindsight, it might be a mistake to let The Jeff go given how he developed, but there is also a chance ESR might be like Wilshire who was never able to stay on the pitch long enough to make a difference. Also, he is 20 and Aouar is only 22. In case Aouar comes, where will Smith-Rowe play on the field? The same goes for Willock.

  7. Wishawk October 3, 2020 at 4:02 am #

    Just watched the full match of the Carabao game again. Thought Kola had a very good game. And I really enjoyed Holding doing his strong arm tactics. I think he is getting back to his best before his ACL.

    On the other hand, I wonder how much Nico Williams of Liverpool is worth, £27 million maybe?

  8. Victor Thompson October 3, 2020 at 12:18 pm #

    Mike, I have been writing often to you to discuss what is best for the club, mainly because your views are on the ball and suit my own likes and dislikes. For once therefore I am delighted to see how many scribes you have attracted and each of them is like finding a promising contributor to a Dream Team. They mostly praise your writing as if they were young players who have fitted into Arteta`s scheme of things. The result is the emergence of a man who knows what he is talking about and a flock of also talented contributors who talk the same language. What a pleasure to read! Am I experiencing pangs of love?

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