Well, a bloody good morning to you!
We’re smack bang in the middle of the mere-mortals-international break. No one knows what day it is, the only guide we have is when the football is, so we loosely know that something is going on in day 29 of the 12 month.
That’d be the Chelsea game.
It was quite interesting watching the chatter post-Bournemouth yesterday. I feel like the level of fan conversation has jotted up a couple of notches. There are the folk that saw some very interesting innovations in our starting 11 after just 5 days. Then there’s Thierry Henry, who gave an extremely salty analysis of Arteta’s first game, which amounted to, ‘shit performance, saved by Auba.’
If you watched the Bournemouth game and you didn’t see any improvements, you’re either not paying attention, or you’re being willfully blind because you are holding a grudge. The most disappointing part of the game was the uncharacteristically poor finishing. In Emery’s first season, our chance conversion rate was something else, it’s gone missing of late. We had 17 attempts at goal, the 3rd highest away from him this season.
I think a lot of fans were interested to see AMN being pushed into midfield in an inverted full back role, helping us to stem the flow of counter-attacks. That also gave Saka more opportunities to push forward as a winger, though it has to be said, his delivery was terrible on that occasion.
There was also clearly a lot better positioning on the pitch. Below is Leicester then Bournemouth.
These are all very basic, but they point to a coach that at least has a clear idea of what he thinks is wrong, along with the aptitude to implement fast changes.
Then, if you didn’t notice the increase workrate, something we’ve moaned about all season, well, no one can help you.
Now, where I will dampen the joy is this was the first game against a broken team. Bournemouth are always game to give Arsenal possession, and they are often ideal teams for Xhaka and Ozil. Though I think it was clear that Arteta created the right conditions for Ozil to have more time between the lines, then Xhaka when Bournemouth wised up to Ozil.
The other dampener is that I think we’ll continue to have a tough 8 weeks. Chelsea and United in rapid-fire succession is far from ideal and we could easily be beasted by both of them. There’s simply not enough time to really shape the players up. New ideas + not time + fatigue isn’t a great recipe.
We’ll see though. I think the talent we have in the squad is far more promising than many give it credit for, the biggest regret for our season was that Raul didn’t pull the plug on the Emery coma before the international break. We moved from the precipice to free fall in those games after, and it’ll be hard to exit that. But we still have good players, we still have a very exciting forward line, and there’s a lot to be said for smart coaching.
A few people noted that Arteta, in the one game we’ve seen from him, looks at player attributes and shapes the structure around them. The inverted full-back move with AMN used his athleticism to track counters. Moving Saka up to create overloads with his pace and ‘delivery.’ He knows Xhaka is shite defensively, so he moves him to the left and gives him more time to pick out passes. Torreira makes the most tackles, interceptions and recoveries and looks the best he has in 18 months, but has support from someone more athletic than him. What I’m saying, is though we don’t have the right players, we certainly have a lot of tasty attributes ready to exploit teams.
I read Marcotti’s piece on the Lille setup, the article is super interesting, but this piece on Pepe had me very damp.
I think Pepe is a winger who is also a world-class finisher. This is a guy who played goalkeeper until he was 13. He understands them like few others — that’s why his finishes, even from long range, are rarely blasted and always placed. I say this because it’s one of the two factors that, I think, have slowed him a bit. We played Pepe in a 4-3-3 in a very specific position: He was wide, with freedom to come inside and a full-back behind him who always covered for him. Now he’s in a new team, his teammates don’t know him and he has to jell. That takes time; the same thing happened when he joined us and it took about six months for him to be very productive. In fact, we were almost relegated.
He can’t control that [period of integration at a new club]. What he can control is his confidence. He has to be confident. There is so much pressure on him that sometimes, it gets to him and as a result he’s a less selfish player than he was when he was with us. He’ll pass sometimes when maybe he should have the confidence to finish. But I think he’ll get over both those factors. We’re already seeing glimpses of what he can do.
Arsenal fans are all very miserable at the moment, we’ve been quick to write-off the Ivorian, but I’m still convinced there’s a player there. He’s clearly a confidence guy, he’s having trouble adapting to the rigours of the league, but under the right coach who understands him, he could be electric. Remember, Arteta did brilliant work on Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane. No reason he can’t master a turnaround project on someone that has pace and elite finishing. One of the clear things we missed with Pepe is that he’s been a counter-attacking winger, then he comes to Arsenal, has to operate in a confused system coming super deep to pick up the ball. No wonder his game is a mess.
Coaching is going to do wonders for this squad. We have a group of eager young kids that want to get better, we hopefully have some senior players that want to come to the light and we have a coach desperate to prove he’s not the guy that picked up the cones.
A few shot at me yesterday regarding the shifting expectations for Arteta. It’s pretty simple why the season is a write-off now. We blew the season with Emery. Arteta will have no pre-season, he’s picking up broken players, he’s now dealing with at least 6 contract rebels, there are cliques in the squad and the fans are sitting in a toxic atmosphere. Expecting top 4 now is a huge stretch. The best we can hope for is an elite run in the Europa League… but the most important thing for me is that the club shift their efforts into the rebuild of Arsenal, now we know what we want to be. Identify the best kids, get them playing the Arteta way. Sign up the senior players we want to keep. Have a very smart idea for turning over the players we want out, and make sure the replacements can carry us through next season into the top 4.
Right, that’s me done, see you in the comments.