Firstly let me say that I have not seen any highlights or read too much this morning so I am not in a position to comment on refereeing decisions or any controversial incidences. As you know they do not show anything controversial as a re-run so I will need others to fill me in on this. Certainly from the stands I was suspicious of off-side for their 3rd and with UEFA not using goal line technology I would welcome some feedback on their 2nd.
This was a strangely disjointed performance that left me slightly puzzled, and I know what you are thinking, a puzzled GoonerB with few tactical solutions is verging on a national crisis 🙂
Reading through some comments there does seem to be many feeling that this performance (or others like it) is down down to non recruitment of certain personnel or too much rotation and inexplicably not playing our strongest team.
The first may have some merit that we do lack certain qualities in the squad. It is probably, though, also about missing certain qualities through injuries. Notably I felt the way Olympiacos defended was made for Giroud’s presence in the box, but he wasn’t available. Theo wasn’t bad, but I do have a couple of gripes regarding him that I will comment on later, but I would have preferred Giroud to have been brought on up top (once we had seen how the game and their defensive line was developing) with Theo moved wide right (due to the Ox having an off game IMO).
I think the game also craved Jack’s intricate ability to operate in the tightest of spaces with those subtle 1-2’s, so he was also badly missed as an option. Add potential missing options in Welbeck and Rosicky and our options to change the game tactically were limited.
On the rotation side of things, I am sorry but it is necessary. When and how is a different matter, but I question why many feel we went in with a weakened team last night. With what we have, and had available, many would say that Walcott, Alexis and Ox is our strongest front 3….I do…. Many would say that Ozil is the best 1st choice starting option in that number 10 role….I do…. Many would say that Le Coq and Santi is the best CM pairing….I do…. Bellerin and Kos are generally considered 1st choice. Gabriel will now be considered by many as being ahead of Merts. Monreal was a massively improved player last year but for me there is not much difference between him and Gibbs, certainly not game altering differences.
That leaves the keeper. I get it that Cech is better and is truly world class but big teams win big prizes even with injuries to 1st choice keepers by having excellent ready made back-ups, even if slightly inferior to the first choice. Are we really saying that we have lost this game because our2nd choice keeper, the number 1 Columbian international keeper, is not good enough to help us beat Olympiacos at home??? I really struggle with that one, and if it is the case then he has no place being in the Arsenal squad at all. On paper it looked a strong, fine, and balanced line up to me so I am looking for answers to last night elsewhere.
So we once again we gifted some poor goals, I think everyone will agree there, and I just don’t think you can do that as often as we do in Europe, even against some lesser teams. Is this a personnel or training issue? We again left ourselves a mountain to climb and to be fair to Olympiacos they were very organised, compact, and solid in defence. We couldn’t easily find a way through tight central spaces and the fact we did twice should have been enough, if we did our job properly elsewhere.
The route through them seemed to be from the wide areas. We are good at this by and large, and mostly use the overlapping full-backs to good effect so all we then need are dangerous balls into the box (some aerial some low and powerful). I do however have an issue with theOx and our right flank last night, but will say more later. If we get into dangerous wide areas and get the balls in, we then just need players in the box to finish these good chances off…..errmm….seems to fall down at that point!
I have a big problem with this, especially with the aerial balls. The default seems to be that we miss a big CF in these instances so we can immediately jump on the Giroud bandwagon. Personally though I think many of the most prolific goal-scorers in the air are just technically good at it, and are good at finding and attacking space gaining a half yard on the defender. The height obviously does help at times but even as a biggie Giroud for me is an average threat in the air. Sanchez (all 5′ 6 1/2” of him according to Wiki) is good in the air and a good technical header of the ball. He has learnt this away from Arsenal. I then look at many of our attacking players that have been with us for some time, so their skill set is more shaped by Arsenal’s training of them, and I ask who else do we have that has good technique in with heading, regardless of size? It leaves me questioning our coaching and training unfortunately.
Was last night “just a bad day at the office”, or are we getting too many bad day’s at the office to keep saying this. What do you guys think?
Written by GoonerB