Welcome to Monday precious ones.
It’s international break. Kill me. Honestly, why do we need so many of these? Can you beleive Mr Wenger would ideally like this period to be AN ENTIRE MONTH OF FOOTBALL. Honestly, he fell off so hard. I cannot believe that all that good work he did managing his reputation, to just jump right into bed with FIFA and try and reinvent the game to have World Cups every two years, something he’d have hated as a manager. Really shoddy.
Anyway, I’ll take this break on the chin.
We’re going to have to be Perspective FC today because this season moves in phases and we have to look at how we’re tracking.
This batch of games was overall, a big improvement on what we saw in the first three games. 10 points from a possible 12. We’re 4 points off Top 4 having played 3 top teams so far. As Johnny said in the podcast, we’re now at a crossroads. We’ve lost some games we wanted to win and won some games we thought we’d lose.
Now it’s all about how we move on to the next phase: Consistency.
Some of that is going to come with time. Whether you want to accept it or not, this is a new team of players and new teams take time to bed in. Factor in that it’s the youngest in the league and you have to consider other elements like experience and maturity.
The game at the weekend was a prime example of what a lack of experience gives you. The weather was absolutely dreadful, Brighton’s press was bang on-point, and we didn’t have an answer.
Liverpool had the same issue against City. They were totally boxed in during the first half. Everyone was one step off the pace. The team reacted by stepping off City, which is exactly what Pep wants you to do against him.
Listen to how Klopp dealt with the issue tactically.
You don’t get this level of tactical insight very often from Klopp. Grab it while you can. pic.twitter.com/IIU6OmDehY
— Josh Williams (@DistanceCovered) October 3, 2021
It takes time and experience to do that. Arsenal’s young players didn’t know how to respond and didn’t really have the confidence to step up against the Brighton press. There was too much fear in the system. Long balls were the easier option, but tactically, Potter had an answer for that. Auba can’t play in a side that has a midfield frightened to break the press. He’s at his best when the ball is moved into his feet at speed. We don’t have an Olivier Giroud for long-ball football. Our players can’t allow themselves to be press-bitches like we were under Wenger. There needs to be more bravery in the system going forward.
Confidence doing that will come. Players like Tomi and Lokonga have never played a game that intense in their careers. They will learn and adapt. That’s just how it goes when you move the Premier League. Look at how hard it has been for players at all club. Emerson Royal and Christian Romero are taking their time to bed in. Jadon Sancho has been way off the pace and he’s English. Saul has had his problems. If it’s happening elsewhere, there should be forgiveness when it happens to us with less experienced players. Remember, it took Thierry 7 games to score his first goal, and Robert Pires took a long time to show that he had teeth.
Just as important for me was the fact we didn’t concede and our defensive structure looked solid for the most part. Brighton are excellent from set-plays and we dealt with it. Even more impressive when you consider the level of wind that was going off that day.
There’s still work to be done in the final third. It’s sloppy for the most part. But we are creating chances. Brighton wasn’t our best run out, but it’s worth noting that they conceded the third lowest xG last season. They are hard to get at. Their setup is well structured and they make it tough from a chance creation perspective. I very much doubt Palace, Villa, or Watford will have that level of discipline with their defending when we go there after the break.
Regardless, we need to see more shots finding the target. Thomas Partey needs to lay off the long-rangers, and our better players need to get sharper.
Overall, the key things we learned from Phase 2 of the season.
- The young players we signed are good and will get better
- We have seen what peak Arteta-ball can look like
- Arsenal can still defend, but now we’re doing it with players that can pass
If you need a bit of a hand with the explainer on what has changed, no one does it better than Statman Dave.
Just a quick one today, there is much to be done at work. If you desperately want more content, then check out our video or listen to the latest podcast.
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