I’m writing this a few drinks deep, so take the information with a pinch of ‘okaaaaay mate…’
In short, what a day.
Mikel Arteta picked up the second trophy of his tenure. It might not be a major one, but a win against a full-strength Liverpool side is certainly not to be sniffed at. I honestly didn’t hold out much hope of a victory. It felt far too early in our preseason to deliver any sort of competition against one of the most brutal teams in the world.
I don’t really want to go over the game in too much detail. We basically recreated our FA Cup run where we let better teams have more of the possession, while we played around their press, and took our chances.
The goal from Auba was another sublime ‘play it out the back’ moment. Elneny fed Saka on the right, Saka created an overload and casually pinged a ball out to Auba. Our contract rebel sharpshooter cut inside, Tierney created a decoy with a fake overlap, then Auba placed a bullet strike over one of the best keepers in the world. Fucking majestic. Thierry like. Think back to how shite we were playing out of the back under Emery? Unreal how good coaching can have the same players scoring worldies against elite teams with the same idea.
The second half was a little more Liverpool. We conceded a sloppy goal. Some deft football by Liverpool and a bit of bad luck on our part saw Minamoto earn enough space to slip a pass past Emi. Again, it’s preseason, the goal wasn’t an abomination, though frustrating nonetheless.
We didn’t collapse though, which was lovely. The players gave it some in the last ten minutes, we weren’t quite sharp enough, but we saw the game out for penalties.
We scored all 5. All elite strikes. Reiss started first and buried it. AMN followed up with a COOOOOOL as a cucumber pass into the corner. Soares, who I thought would miss, smashed his home. David Luiz rocketed his into the top left corner. Then Auba BURIED the notion he’s not a big game player, winning his second trophy with Arsenal with the final kick of the game and a BELTER of a strike.
What a great moment for Arsenal. The Community Shield might not be the biggest trophy of them all, but when you are an Arsenal fan, or player, or board member, it means a great deal. Arsenal are improving. We’re mixing it with the big teams. We’re showing up and delivering when it matters. I said before the game, the importance of the win was momentum. We are a confidence team, this will have mainlined belief into a squad that’s still learning how to be top tier.
So what can we take from the game?
DON’T FUCK WITH US
Yeah, childish headline, but what the last batch of games starting with an ‘FA’ prefix have taught the rest of the league is that we have a capable squad of players that can damage big teams. Specifically, we’ve learned to deal with teams that aggressively press us.
Teams like Liverpool have come at us with extra venom over the years. They beast us, we panic under pressure and give the ball away, then they go again and again until we’re beaten into submission. The we’d cave to the pressure, the more confident the pressing team would get and the more we’d cower. That reputation for meekness has been well and truly weaponised by Arteta.
The lesson teams are now learning is that if they aggressively push us high up the field, we will play around the press and do some real damage. We no longer shit the bed. We have comfortably played around 2 of the best pressing teams in the world and taken home results. What you saw yesterday was a Liverpool side that started to panic when their plan fell apart because we showed them on numerous occasions we’d open them up. That is a warning shot for the rest of the league. Teams will think twice about pressing us hard and high. This is a great development for Arsenal. Big teams will eventually wise up to this, but for the moment, we’re dangerous against top 6 sides.
CREATIVITY WHERE ARE YOU?
Our biggest issue this season is now the opposite of what it used to be. We lack creativity. Arsenal is now competitive for the big games, where we’ll struggle is against teams that low block us and string 11 bodies in front of us. Think about Brighton and Villa.
I thought we were worth more than our 2 shots on target yesterday. The movement in Liverpool’s third was much better. The football was really good at times. What we’re really lacking is a decision and a moment of magic when it matters. Ozil when he cared, Santi, Thomas Rosicky, Jack, Andrey, could all create magic with a deep block… we don’t have that right now and unless we address it, our issues will come in games where teams don’t want to play.
No doubt the Arsenal analysts recognise this issue. No doubt we’re trying to adjust the squad to accommodate a more creative set of players. Willian will help, but it’d also be great to bring in a true number 8 or a modern 10 that could help us unlock defences. The club hope they can get Auoar for £40m, which means we have to sell someone. Torreira, Guendouzi, and Lacazette are all the best hopes of raising funds, but the market is sluggish. I also hear we still fancy Partey… but again, hard to move fast if you have no money.
DON’T SELL THEM PLEEEEASE
My main concern before the game was that we had at least 5 players in the starting 11 that won’t be about come October 5th. Under Arteta, things like that don’t seem matter. The stand out performers were AMN and Martinez, once again. The Argentinian keeper is just a very good player. The idea that Chelsea might pick him up from us for £10m is an absolutely awful thought. He’s focused, brilliant with his feet, great with his hands, and a brilliant leader. I also love that he has a greater goal, becoming Argentina’s #1. Are we letting the better keeper go here?
Then there’s AMN. I can’t have it that he is on the exit list. He’s brilliant. He seems to have the exact mindset we’re looking for, he shows up in big games, he executes Arteta’s plans, and he’s the best wing-back we have. Soares might be a good player, but he’s 29, there’s no resale value, there’s no ceiling. Why wouldn’t we keep the North London boy the fans adore? £20m seems a pitiful amount.
Listening to the prezzer after the game, the AMN issue is consistency, and I’d imagine the backroom team believes the same thing of Emi. I can’t counter people who see the players every day (and know the grand vision), though I will say the main argument in their favour is neither of them have had elite coaching or attention in their careers like they are receiving now.
… also, AMN just landed an England call up. Well done. Totally deserved.
Say it ain’t MO?
I watched the game with Matt from the podcast. I said…
‘You know what Mo Elne…’
‘NO. Don’t even finish’
What I wanted to say was that Mo was pretty decent against MK Dons. He’s more mobile than Xhaka and he’s pretty tidy. Let’s keep it understated here, he was basically an Egyptian Pirlo controlling the midfield. Too far? Ok, well, at the very least, he acted like the ‘server’ we’ve lacked in midfield. He moves the ball fast and accurately without fuss. A bit like Xhaka in that sense (who was also very good). I thought he was great. Hard to ignore a game like that against Liverpool.
After Saka signed his new deal, Arteta used the versatile teenager sparingly, so it was great to see him back in the starting 11 yesterday, tearing it up. He’s such a smart player, he reads the game really well, has great anticipation, and his decision making under pressure really does look good. His switch to Auba was perfectly weighted… it’s magic to see him doing that. I cannot wait to watch him develop into a world-class talent this season.
Auba, please man, sign the deal.
What a player. He’ll be absolutely essential to our success this season. Hopefully, the club can move the deal along and have him tied down after the international break.
Right, that’s me done, see you in the comments.
P.S. I have put some cash/money down on a website refresh. Expect some changes over the next few weeks!
P.P.S Love to see Dani Ceballos cheering Arsenal on from his home on Twitter. He needs to fuck off this Betis idea and get back to London. We need him!