The final hurrah of Nacho Monreal sadly will NOT be scoring a 32-yard screamer against Spurs tomorrow. The Spanish left back will instead be heading back to sunnier climes, choosing Real Sociedad to see out his career.
I think I speak for most Arsenal fans… no… ALL Arsenal fans, even you @BREXITGOONER1 (my dad), when I say: Bit of an odd one, this.
We’re banking on Kola learning how to defend, and we’re putting a lot of chips on Tierney 1) Adapting to the league like VVD 2) Breezing past his fitness challenges of the last year.
Still, it is what it is. Nacho is getting on a bit and his hamstrings and body parts will all be a touch more brittle than in the past. I’d imagine he’s at that age when you grunt when you pick up a slipper and he’s at that age when the slipper is probably his. He’s also probably wearing those slippers to the newspaper shop as well. Age is a bitch, but damn, we’ll do it in M&S levels of comfort.
I get the logic behind not having 3 left backs as well, we can’t keep pumping money into the ether. I just thought that if anyone set a great example for professionalism at the club, it was Nacho. He never let us down. He was a true warrior. He was an excellent player.
I remember about 5 years ago, Arsenal let a bunch of us interview him. His English was a bit broken and he was asked a question about what he thought we needed.
‘Someone who can score more than 20 goals a season regularly’, then his agent whispered something to him and he backtracked as hard as his words would allow. We went off the record so as not to cause a stir. But today, I’m causing a stir because Giroud is at Chelsea and who really cares this far out?
Manchester United drew with Southampton today. A great start to a big weekend for Arsenal. Only thing that’s bothering me there is that OGS is going to end up getting sacked before Christmas if he doesn’t pick things up a little. Would love him to have the whole season. Give him a chance, Ed.
The news coming out of the Spurs camp is delightful. Poch is unhappy. His team is disrupted. He has four players angling for an exit, names like Aurier, Eriksen, Vertonghen and Toby. Their squad is finally picking up injuries, there should be no Ndombele, Dier or right back tomorrow. The press were asking if he’d leave this week.
Spurs are there for the taking.
My hope is that Emery can avoid being timid in this game. I don’t want to see us lined up with a deep block on the edge of our box. I don’t want to see us persisting with playing out the back if it looks like Spurs have that sussed. I don’t want us playing for a quick counter-attack at home.
We have the tools in our squad to play to win. Spurs are in a bit of a hole, if we gift them too much respect, we’ll make it hard for ourselves. When confidence is shaken, strike hard and strike first. Test their collective resolve.
I talk like Spurs are totally shite, chances are they’ll turn up because of the magnitude of the game. I just hope we’re positive. Emery plays with too much fear and indecision in big games. I hope that’s just Liverpool jitters… because the fans are not going to gift him a 50/50 split on tomorrow regardless of what he does tactically. It’s a must-win against a team that finished 1 point ahead of us last season.
Win this, and we’re telling the league that we’re here for the top 3 this year, lose, and you’ll start to worry if Emery has the beans to push the squad forward this season.
Our underlying stats have been poor this season. You only have to take a cursory looks across the numbers sites to see that we’re not in great shape. This from Statsbomb.
‘It’s well known that shot rates tend to increase as matches progress, so even when you see a 30-plus shot beatdown, most of the time, the shots get racked up in the second half. And that’s true here. Only four times in 2018-19 did a team reach the half time point having allowed 15 or more shots.’
That number above is quite staggering to read when you’re setting up to stifle attempts at your goal. Add to that, Arsenal has turned the ball over in their own half more than any other team in the league, and you can see a problem brewing. I say brewing because Liverp0ol was a particularly bad execution of what could be passed off as a new strategy against a new rule (I am reaching so badly for the Emeryista here).
A pal in my ArsenalMensSupport chat groups pointed out, Arsenal’s lack of expenditure at the back this summer points to a club not taking defence particularly seriously. The statistics early on this season point, mapped against last, point to a manager not capable of creating a defensive structure that can serve an elite team.
I don’t know what the exact solve is, but my amateur thoughts have led me to this:
- Be less predictable. If you play out the back every time, you make it easy to set up against. Being dedicated to an idea is commendable, but if it’s not working, mix things up. It shouldn’t take 80mins for a keeper to go long once. Even mix up the variety of how you do it. You can play from the back and have a more vertical approach.
- Do it faster. If you are slow and methodical at moving it out the back, you let teams reset, which again, makes it easy to play against you.
- Stop playing staff that are prone to being targeted. Xhaka is well known to be awful when put under pressure. Stop playing him.
Let’s see what Emery has in store tomorrow. He’s a tactically flexible coach, he needs to think a little deeper about what he wants from his defence this year. Hopefully, there’s a simple solution he can adopt.
In other news, Elneny is off to Turkey. Nice guy, about as useful to the squad as a motivational bus driver. Mustafi did not leave, an absolutely disgraceful indictment on his passion for the game. I really hope Emery doesn’t start using him. Keep him frozen out. Mesut Ozil also didn’t leave, he’ll be a bit part this season until he moves on to DC. Say what you will about the German, he’s at least useful.
Finally, listen to our pre-Spurs pod.