The Arteta revival of Arsenal is proving as spluttery as most expected. The Sheffield United game had positives, but the key thing we’re looking for is a victory and it once again alluded us.
The plan for the moment looks fairly clear. Arteta is trying to make us harder to beat, which in the main, seems to be working. We’re more in control of what’s happening on the pitch, the mistakes have reduced, and it’s in the main, a bit harder to create chances against us.
The main problem is that we aren’t creating enough in the final third to be a problem for most teams. Yesterday our best hope for goals was suspended, so we rolled with Lacazette, Martinelli and Pepe. It’s just not quite there. In the first half, the most interesting of our forward line was Pepe, who seems to be finding more confidence in the way he wants to play, but a lack of end product is still the common takeaway.
Our midfield is where the trouble comes from. There’s only one place a threat is coming from and that’s Mesut Ozil, his passing game was very off yesterday, though he was involved in our goal when he found Laca, who released Saka who found Gabriel for the tap with a deflected cross.
The overall lack of creativity in the side is a worry, not just that, we’re lack dynamism. Because there’s so little power, late runs into the box are a rarity, and if opposition planners know where the creativity is coming from, it makes you easy to play against. Part of the newfound ‘sort of’ solidity comes with a sacrifice in attack. The manager has yet to find the solution, but look, we bitched for 10 years about not having a coach who was interested in defending, now we have one.
I thought Saka showed a lot of promising signs down the left, he and Gabriel are players of the future, they work hard, they have power and pace, but at the moment, as teenagers, they are going to be raw and inconsistent. Arteta was effusive in his praise of the Brazilian after the game.
Absolutely. He’s an 18-year-old kid with all the enthusiasm but as well, he’s so brave to make decisions, to threaten the opponent every time. He’s all the time in the middle of the goal, waiting for an opportunity to come. The fact he hasn’t played 90 minutes for a while – since his injury – but is still in the way he went about every single action is impressive.
The real worry upfront is Alex Lacazette, he really stunk the place out yesterday, he looked slow, out of his depth and a little bit depressed. Not good and not helpful. I wonder if Eddie is going to land game time against Chelsea?
Our defence weren’t punished for their mistakes yesterday. Though in the main we looked solid, it has to be noted that Sheffield United weren’t at their best and we still nearly dropped clangers. I’m thinking about David Luiz not jumping for a corner and letting a man in behind him. I’m also thinking about Bernd Leno flapping at a cross, missing and having to rely on Granit Xhaka to save him on the goal line. I think Arteta made a good point about the general nerves when we’re 1-0 up being a problem he’s struggling to shake at the moment.
Yeah and there’s a history of [nerves in the stadium]. It makes it even more. In the Premier League we are 1-0 up and in the last 10 or 15 minutes you have to be careful, because anything can happen…
… Then when you’re 1-0 up, the last 10 minutes things change. They changed to a back four and they started to commit more bodies forward, and then they’d have six players in front of the ball. It’s more difficult to control when they play long balls or second balls like this. It’s not easy.
You also can’t ignore lady luck, who appears to have looked at Emery’s credit withdrawals last season and deemed us bankrupt. Sheffield United found space at the back post and Fleck hit the ball into the ground and it ended in the top corner, if that was on purpose, I salute you, but it felt like a mistimed shot paid off. The second bit of bad luck was having a ref in charge that always needs a bad decision to feed his ego. Pepe was clattered in the box, it was a clear penalty, but it wasn’t given. When you’re in a rut, these things go against you, and there have certainly been a lot of things go against us of late.
For me, the season was always a write-off. We’re 6 games into a rebirth, and it’ll take time to get the side playing the way the manager wants and the output is going to be inconsistent, but it will click eventually. It’s important to remember the scenario at the moment.
Onwards and upwards, a huge game at Chelsea next where we’ll be hoping to right the wrongs of the last game against them.
See you in the comments x