Bernd Leno shrugged a sigh of relief as Emi Martinez dropped his first blunder of the season as his Aston Villa side crashed to a 3-0 thumping at the hands of Patrick bloody Bamford.
Leeds had more shots yesterday than we’ve had all season. Sad times.
What is interesting about our lack of shots is the absolute consistency of our lack of shots. It’s hardly budged in 9 months.
People keep saying this is the same as it was under Emery, but I disagree. Our lack of attacking swagger is a clear choice by the manager. He wants to play football in a buttoned-up way. We’re trying to be more Atleti than Barcelona. It’s hard to stomach, but ultimately, I suspect an exCity coach would play the City way if he thought he had the players to do it.
Still, just because the way we’re playing now feels a bit sad, doesn’t mean that it will last. What we didn’t have in our last Premier League outing was a match ready Thomas Partey who ‘can control the midfield on his own.’
Does Thomas Partey mean we’ll see more ambition in the final third? Will we see our front three start to click? Will the manager settle on a starting 11 and loosen the handbrake? It’s clear he’s aware that his main goalscorer needs to see more of the ball in opportunistic positions.
‘He needs to get in more goalscoring opportunities, he needs to get the ball more around the box, in order to do what he is able to do. Thursday was a different game to some of the other games we have played against some of the big teams we have played this season’
I also like that he’s pumping his confidence.
‘It is the same for him or Aguero, who didn’t have a shot on target as well on the weekend [for City against Arsenal]. It is not an isolation of just our player. But Thursday it was promising, I said to him before the game, go out & win us the game, and he did it’
Arteta is painfully aware there’s a lot of work to be done, I find it weird that so many people think that we’re at the finishing line already… reading people say, ‘Arteta plays football like this because that’s what he was like as a player’ does seem to be the one observation that links dim people on the internet.
Though I wouldn’t be shocked if the plan with this squad of players was good defending and efficient attacking. It’s hard to argue that we should be playing the Bielsa way after we watched Unai Emery opt for 4-3s over 1-0s and absolutely tank his career.
We have seen, for 10 years, what playing open football does to our league position. If we’re trying the opposite while we develop the squad over the next few windows, maybe let’s see how it pans out? Remember, the only reason Arsene Wenger could immediately play expressive football was firstly, he had a world-class defensive united that had won titles at his disposal, secondly, he had money to throw around.
Leicester City is an interesting game for Arsenal. They are widely seen as a better side than us, but for me, they sit in the same collection of sides as Chelsea, Everton (based on form), Spurs, and United. We’re all a much of a muchness, and we can all do damage on our day. I think we should be beating them. It’ll be tough, they play great football, but they won’t sit deep, which suits us. They’re also not City or Liverpool in attack. It’ll be an interesting tactical battle.
I’m a bit concerned that we already have Willian fitness issues, but more worryingly, Dani Ceballos is also a doubt for the weekend.
Arteta was keen to impress that actually, the Rapid win wasn’t the loss many fans are painting it as. He acknowledged that Bernd fucked up, because he was told to take risks, and that’ll happen this season. The reaction was what made the manager happy.
One of the examples is the reaction the team had with Bernd after his decision [for the Rapid goal]. I ask them to do that, to take those risks, to play the way we want to play and sometimes it is going to happen, but the reaction of the team with him when we scored the first and the second goals was really good. That comes from them and the culture we are trying to create here.
I have been heavy on Leno, and maybe on reflection, that was deeply wrong and I should flog myself as restitution. As a fan, it feels like everyone is living more in the moment more than ever… versus looking at the bigger picture. Literally, one bad half of football and fans are questioning everything. It’s a bit exhausting.
The reality is, Arsenal is not a project that can be solved with one non-Raul window. It’s going to take some time. Arteta spoke to that in a delicate way.
It is about finding the cohesion in the team and the fluidity with and without the ball what we want. Finding some specificity was in my opinion lacking in the squad, to get the pieces in the right places where everyone is comfortable doing their job that we give them to do. I think we are much more balanced. The same with Gabi (Gabriel), the performance he had last night as well and what he brings to the team. We will see a team that is closer to what we are trying to do.
As fans, we keep asking why players are doing jobs they shouldn’t be doing. It’s because we’re still in a round pegs/square holes phase of squad building. I don’t think our issue is tragic, but it’s clear that there are things we lack. We don’t have a Jack Grealish. We don’t have an elite centre forward that can beast people the way Arteta needs. Willian and Pepe are both struggling on the right. All that might change. Pepe might click, Willian will no doubt start performing, and Gabriel Martinelli is ever so close to reclaiming a starting spot… and to my mind, he could play through the middle. Imagine that monster back to his best weighing 5kg extra?
I. Am. Purring.
Anyway, the main thing we need to remember. We have new players that open new possibilities, but new possibilities will take time to bed in. So be patient and let’s not lose our minds until we see what the shape of the side is going to look like.
… then, if we don’t like it, we can fire up the BannerAir brigade and get our message out there. Until then, let’s enjoy the games today and go to war tomorrow!