So I’m watching Everton lose to Leeds United at home. Ancelotti, a manager plenty of Arsenal fans talk about when we lose, is just 3 points ahead of us going into tomorrow’s big game. He’s had money, he’s one of the most experienced managers in the game, he has an excellent squad to work with… but it’s still hard.
If we beat Wolves, we go from 14th onto the same points as the clubs in 6th position currently.
Say what you will about our miserable play this season, we’re still in the mixer, and if this is our bad patch… we’re more than on target to compete for top 4 this season.
Therein lies the challenge, to keep up with the pack, we have to start winning games and we really have to start scoring goals. Wolves is going to be a big test for us, on paper, they’re basically the same team as Arsenal this season. Defensively, they’ve conceded 10, and going forward, they’ve scored a meek 9. They average 3 shots more per game than us, but only about 1 more on target. They have one more point than us though.
Both teams need to find a bit of spark in front of goal. Both are dealing with very different problems. Most of our first team issues stem from experienced players bombing, and new signings not settling or picking up injuries.
The biggest issue for Mikel is getting Auba scoring again. He’s massively out of sorts and in our low margins system, we simply can’t afford for that to be the case. We get these fake hits of dopamine from the Europa League that don’t really tell us much. I have my doubts we’ll play a 4-4-2 against Wolves, but what we might see is more of our wide players going direct and coming inside.
The hope is Thomas Partey and Bukayo Saka are fit. That should immediately give our midfield and attacking options more sex appeal. Seeing Xhaka in the starting 11 again isn’t going to be good for anyone. The question then becomes who compliments the Ghanian. I reckon we might see Joe Willock and Dani Ceballos given a role again, mostly because it’s the only real options we have at the moment.
The front three, assuming we’re going 4 at the back will hopefully be Saka, Auba, and maybe Nelson. I think we need directness and speed tomorrow, Reiss has those vertical runs, and he looks very, very motivated at the moment. That said, if anyone is going to get played into form this season, it’ll be Willian. Salt Bae’s best friend needs the same love Pepe gets. However, he needs to ball into his feet faster.
Tomorrow really has to be about speed. We’re rubbish building up slowly. If we have pace in our frontlines, we need to exploit it with quick balls. We can’t afford this slow passing combined with players running the ball up the pitch from deep positions.
We also need to take chances. Have a shot. Play a speculative pass. We are so predictable at the moment and it makes us easy to defend against. To achieve that, it means Willock has to step up, it means Saka and Reiss have to be at their best, and it means Auba needs to lead by example and get back to form.
Arteta had this to say on why we are playing the way we are.
“In football, time is very precious and people are very impatient. But if you don’t respect the processes and you ask certain people to do certain things when the foundations are not there, it’s a really dangerous thing to do.
He’s basically saying we don’t have the player to do the things he wants right now, and if he were to prove out that he doesn’t have the players, he’d look even worse than he does now. It seems very certain that we’re going to make moves for a creative player to help us move towards a better Arsenal. Isco is the latest to be linked. The Spaniard is very much out of favour at Real Madrid and they are in all sorts of financial bother. The rumour is a loan move to perm signing. I don’t like these deals for older players, but he’s certainly an outrageous talent when he’s focused. I just get the Ozil jitters when I read through the stories about why he’s not playing. If he bombs, on the money they’d want, we’re in another bad situation without a sell on clause.
We’re still being linked to the Hungarian from RB Salzburg. The Athletic reckon Arsenal are worried about his ball retention rates and his lack of ability to go past players. However, Jesse Marsch loves him and reckons that can all be developed. He called him the Hungarian Beckham. I think we need two players, we need someone that can beat players like Isco or Aouar, and we need someone that gives us goals and final balls from midfield. We’ll see where the club takes it, but at least it’s looking good for improvements.
Finally, Dani Ceballos dropped an apology press tour. He had this to say on Emery and Arteta
“The team was almost dead – but after Arteta’s arrival we won the FA Cup and the Community Shield.
“It’s not even a year since he arrived and he has given a radical change to the club.
“He’s the soul of the club and he’s lucky that the players trust him 100 per cent.
“Arsenal need him, in part because he takes the initiative most of the time.”
I will say it again, the weirdest people in the Arsenal community are those that try and right the wrongs of the Emery tenure after we have a bad game. It is incredible. The fashion equivalent of of defending a gilet. The fine dining equivalent of taking your wife to a Jamie Oliver restaurant for a 25th wedding anniversary and asking for some ketchup for your bread roll. Defending Emery is a keyword trigger for MI5 that warns “DANGEROUS PERSON.” Just stop doing it. It’s really weird.
Right, that’s all you’ll get from me today. See you in the comments!