Well hello angry people. How are you today? I am still a bit bummed about the result at the weekend. It was really bad. Still, we can’t cave. We have to move forward and imagine ways this could be made better.
I think there are two issues we have going on at the moment that need addressing ASAP.
- The system doesn’t produce enough high-quality chances
- The system relies on elite finishing to finish the few chances that are created
- Our elite finishers are out of form, big time
Now, there’s a lot of debate going on about which is the bigger problem there. Are our big names struggling in a restrictive system? Perhaps. But there’s been a little too much good noise coming out of the club to assume that the players are playing badly because they are sad.
The system wasn’t the problem 6 months ago, it was the solution. But maybe too many things have to go right for that system to work. Living off low xG can only exist if you have someone like Auba absolutely on fire. He’s not on fire at the moment, he’s the opposite, and no one else has stepped up.
We’re not going to get back to form by fine margins-ing our way out. I think we need to try something different. We have learnt that fine margins is not good enough for top four. We have learnt that it’s quite miserable to watch. We clearly don’t have the players to be Atleti at the moment.
We do have good players though. We also have a good manager and lots of smart young coaches and analysts. I don’t think we can live in a world where we let Arteta off the hook because he doesn’t have the perfect squad. He needs to move on a new idea. Arsenal simply has to find the right balance.
Fans have ideas as well. I think most of them revolve around taking an L on Lacazette and Willian for a little bit, but there are more, so keep reading.
PEPE: Could the Ivorian be deployed more centrally. We touched on this the other day. It’s a wild idea, but it ‘might’ be wild enough to make sense.
The player is a bit of an enigma. He’s been dross out on the wing. Awful. But what has added to that? Well, he’s generally smashed off the ball, and if he’s not, he has to work his way through a lot of players out wide. Could playing through the middle be better for him? Would it win us more penalties? Would playing off the last defender be better for his style of game?
Could he work well as a two with Auba? Let’s look at what he’s good at. He is a handful, defenders do not like what he represents, imaginative, tricky, with a rocket shot. He’s fast with the ball at his feet, a lot faster than Lacazette, and he smashes low shots like Anelka in his prime. He’s also good with his head, standing at 6ft tall, it’s much better to lob balls at him than Lacazette. His quick passing in tight spaces might work well with Auba.
It’s a stretch, but weirder things have worked… like, Thierry as a striker when he arrived as a winger.
AUBA: No one complained about Auba on the left when he was scoring goals out there. Well, now he’s not. He’s barely touching the ball. Lacazette touched it about 5 times, which Mike McDonald who blogs here called correctly: that means the manager has said don’t pass to him or the players simply don’t trust him. Both bad for him. Lacazette through the middle needs retiring. Auba is at his best, when he’s sniffing out chances in the 6-yard area. He’s a fox in the box and we’ve put him out wide where he’s next to useless at the moment. Let’s put him where he’s going to be most effective.
REISS: Look, he’s a bit all over the place, but he can be a player on his day, and he knows he’s in the last chance saloon. He’s fast, he’s very direct, and he looked good when Arteta started him way back when. Can it be any worse than Pepe or Willian? That’d be very tough. Not impossible though.
WILLOCK: Joe has been given two chances in the Europa League and delivered both times. He has never really done it in the Premier League, but now would be a good time to try something. With Partey in the side, could his quick passing, smart runs, and love for a shot be what we need? Maybe. Sometimes you have to take a player that’s not quite there to give you more balance. All our best pieces on the pitch don’t work at the moment. Could Joe give us something more interesting?
BIG LESSONS: I wrote back in July that you can’t coach character. I still stand by that. Players that consistently let you down will always let you down. Mikel seems to have gotten a little high off of some of the things he saw last season and he doubled down on people he should have moved on.
Now we are where we are and this is the way.
He chose to spend £250k a week on a 32-year-old looking for a retirement deal.
He chose to tie Auba down to a longterm deal in his thirties instead of cashing in.
He and his backroom team did not add a creative loan to the team and they chose to omit Mesut Ozil.
He won’t hide from those decisions, because he can’t, but that means he has to make them work, which is why I am very confident he’ll get it right. Arteta cannot afford to fail in his first job.
As fans, we can either cry like children every time we lose… or we can trust in one of the best young coaches in the world. He is the right choice of candidate. We are the poorest club in the top 8, our squad is still a mess, and we cannot afford one of those fancy managers everyone assumes would come here with limited funds.
This is a tough job. Really tough. This is his first major test of faith. We’ve been drossy all season, we’ve had little to smile about, now it’s time to get smart and take some risks in a better version of Arsenal. It can and will be done. Just keep the faith
Over to you, Mikel.