So, exactly what did we expect from a game against Vorskla Poltava Who?
Goals? Yes, sure, but there’s a bigger picture. We will try hard to win this Trophy for obvious reasons, and this journey will include a few more Who Teams before we get stuck into the tricky fixtures later on.
Historically, the early rounds of any tournament against Minnow Opposition are opportunities for yoof players to grab experience and shine, as well as the returning-from-injury sorts.
However, while all that was true for last night’s encounter, it was still very much in the context of a new Manager establishing his own footballing template.
Most obvious to me is the hugely positive impact the Club’s transfer policy has been over the last six odd months.
Mesut and Iwobi re-signed, Mhki and Auba brought in, and most recently the importing of Sokratis, Licht, Torreira and Guendouzi.
Last night we saw them all, and I believe the latter four will massively improve both our Europa campaign as well as in the league.
From the evidence of last night, I’m still not convinced Unai has got the balance quite right, although I do understand that when there are so many player changes, finding that fluent rhythm is not going to happen instantly.
While I wouldn’t describe either Elneny or Xhaka as offensive midfielders, neither are they true defensive midfielders in the sense of the DM sort. Both Torreira and Guendouzi are, but what I liked so much last night about their play was, having won the ball back, how quickly their heads are up and immediately looking to build/pass for forwards momentum.
When I mentioned balance earlier, I was referring to two things. We were slightly lopsided in the first half towards the left, which, if exploiting a tactical weakness of the opposition’s right flank then fair enough, but I’m not convinced. The other concern if the balance between midfield and attack. Mhki was sent out as the link man last night, and I think given more games, it could work. He is strong and aggressive in possession and can drive forwards with the ball when the opportunity presents itself. He does also possess an intelligent final ball.
Way too early to judge, but young Smith Rowe does look to be capable of playing exactly this role in due course. Another very exciting cameo from him.
I’m waffling, and I’m also out of time, so I’ll end with a comment and a question.
Laca looked pissed off. I would be too if I were him. Why? Because Auba looked far better central than out wide.
I’m still convinced 3-5-2 is the only way to optimise those two and Mesut. Unai doesn’t agree. What do you think about Auba being shunted back out left?
Leno – did everything very well, tidy on the deck, looked to be heading for a clean sheet and then, bang, beaten by two beauties….6
Lichtsteiner – oozes experience and defensive know-how, though joined in the calamitous defending at the end….6
Holding – didn’t really do a huge amount of note but looked competent without being oustanding….6
Sokratis – growing in confidence by the day. Made some great tackles, my favourite being when he thumped the floor in celebration at a job well done – exactly what we want to see….8
Monreal – Arsenal’s left flank saw a lot of action last night and most of it was offensive. Nacho played his part as usual….7
Elneny – patrols the centre of the pitch effectively but sometimes lacks forward drive….6
Torreira – outstanding to begin with but then took a bit of a battering which lessened his impact. Let’s hope he is as indestructible as our last wee fellow, Arshavin….7
Mkhitaryan – took time for the motor to start purring but grew in confidence, contributing to most everything we did well going forward. Micky’s highlight was the commentator suggesting that in the build up to the first goal, Micki had called “my ball” in Ukrainian causing the Vorskla player to leave the ball as if dummying – as Micki played over a 100 games for Donetsk in the Ukraine, this is highly likely 🙂 ….7
Iwobi – sometimes his feet can’t keep pace with his brain but when he does get things in sync, he’s outstanding and a real attacking threat….8
Welbeck – scored with his first decent chance, looked a little confused as to where he was playing in the first half. He’s such an athlete, there seems to be a great striker in there somewhere….7
Aubameyang – two classy goals and one beauty curled against the foot of the post. The smile was back which was more than you could say for Laca on the bench….9
Guendouzi – gave Torreira a rest and proceeded to create with every touch, tackling, surging forward – the whole package….7
Ozil – bizarre substitution, didn’t need the game time but seemed to enjoy being on the pitch because he loves football so much. Enjoyed his improvised finish for the goal….6
Smith Rowe – first player born in the 21st century to make a full debut (well, I think that’s what they said). Surging runs, good on the ball, could be something extra special….7
My post match thoughts.
A second half of two halfs.
The good and the not so good.
Went in early to watch full warm up. (40 mins).Very different to previous 22 years. Very intense warm up/stretch followed by skills with ball, followed by intense sprinting/calisthenics then shooting first time drills. At least six warm up staff working players hard. Leno, admittedly without pressure, seemingly happy with both feet medium and long from ground.
Terrier made such a difference. Positionally always ready to receive a pass with economy of movement ( this contrasts with Ouzi, but later for that). First touch immaculate, reminds me of Pires, and often on half turn, so sees the next pass early. Four examples of Xhaka type diagonal/chipped passes to runners into space ( not enough of those runners for me, sorry Didit, esp Danny).
Elneny full of energy around him and with the positional discipline he is capable of.
Micky buzzing for sixty minutes, playing the forward press consistently ( unlike Danny and Aubang after first five, but perhaps understandable given their lack of threat).
Sokratis immense, and quicker than he looks. Holding satisfactory. Still high hopes for Mav- get fit soon and give him a go Dick.
Lichsteiner solid and again disciplined. Will never be able to get behind a full back to cross!
Didn’t learn anything about Leno from game. No chance with goals.
And so to sixty minutes (approx). Elneny now shot and therefore unable to give Ouzi much support when Terrier subbed. ( before I forget, T hit with two very hefty challenges, from which he got up and got on with it, although I was worried about legacy of second one, and perhaps another reason for his substitution).This substitution changed everything!!
Ouzi is so keen and energetic, he is all over the field. Good if you had Terrier behind to give some shape. Somewhat chaotic otherwise, when you add players like Lich also now out on his feet. Ukrainians now look more dangerous on fast breaks ( second goal) and when not pressed/closed down in final third ( first goal).
Result, for me disappointing concession of two goals. Would have been much more serious against a better team. Hope we learn from it.
In general an exciting game to be at. Lovely fast break for first goal and pass from Wobbly, but, sorry Didit, only thing he did right for me most of the night. ( One comical drop of shoulder to deceive defender where he moved himself but left the ball behind to the amazement of the defender who carried on regardless. An own dummy!). Sweet inside of foot from Aubang for second. Micky assist for Danny and interception and pass to Wobbly for first. And, important for me, no sitting back after second goal. Fill your boots and make it impossible for them to come back – almost.
Sorry for diatribe but felt enthused.
Especially liked the in-house reveal on the warm up routine, although, what the heck a calisthenic is shall remain a mystery
Is a syringe required?
micky – oppo of pilates.
thanks guys, really appreciate the reports. As usual i got it terribly wrong, thought it was going to end a boring 1 nil and went to bed at half time. nice one, I missed 5 goals, ejeet.
LBG – I am with you, delighted we won and scored 4, but why did we let 2 in? As chas said, we were the Arsenal and it’s the Arsenal way. We have not kept a clean sheet since May in all competitions. Not very convincing, is it?
Thanks, Micky (and LBG for the first hand account).
I thought the first half was pretty dire, with the goal and Auba’s curler on to the foot of the post the only bright spots. Most of the responsibility for the tedium was the green bus parked on the edge of the Vorskla 18 yard box. Even Torreira struggled to pass the ball forwards.
The second half was completely different, enjoyed it immensely.
I didn’t even begrudge the Ukrainians the two goals, the game was over, we took our foot off the pedal and their supporters got two excellent goals to cheer. At 4-0, why make a big deal of it?
Thank you Mr Didit.
I really enjoyed the game against a poor team.
Iwobi was my MotM. PEA not far behind. Terrier at just 22 y.o. looks superb and will improve.
Loved Sokratis performance, he reminds me of Steve Bould, which is high praise.
Agree with chas 8.51 about the goals conceded. Two wonderful strikes.
ok ok ok, it doesn’t matter we cannot keep a clean sheet. Me being pedantic.
What impressed me most was the technical analysis of the game done by didit, my lord he knows his footy! And this was the icing on the cake: “Mesut and Iwobi re-signed, Mhki and Auba brought in, and most recently the importing of Sokratis, Licht, Torreira and Guendouzi.
Last night we saw them all, and I believe the latter four will massively improve both our Europa campaign as well as in the league”. I’ll drink to that
LBG – who is the older brother – you or ch?
I enjoyed the game last night and was intrigued by our build up against a bus.
Yes the ball went from side to side a lot, that is unfortunately a necessity when playing against parked double deckers, you have to do something to keep them moving and offering different angles to wear them down. This paid dividends in the second half when they struggled to shift across the ranks with as much efficiency as they did in the first half.
What to me was interesting that we appeared more patient than in the past, and we didn’t go just sideways, we went back and sideways. There to me is a very subtle difference to last season. Previously we would go sideways but in areas where we could lose possession, and passed to players in the middle surrounded by massed ranks, last night we were prepared to go back to half way line to shift ball from side to side, which meant the opposition were not just in a line moving like crabs they had to go up and back too to pressure deeper midfielders. This wore them down more but also meant we weren’t losing possession and assusceptible to dangerous counters.
I am almost another century to Chas, but thanks for the benefit of the doubt!
I am going on manoevres for a long weekend (to the home of the WC winners) and will not be able to write the Everton PM – sorry.
LBG – so how come they little bastard shows you no respect, ey?
Ant’s teeth got better and better with age 🙂 🙂 beautiful photo
Was thinking about GIE’s going backward to go forward comment.
Isn’t that what we’ve always done? And doesn’t it depend on how far the front of the bus presses out from the penalty box? i. e. It doesn’t make sense to go backwards if the bus stays in the back of the garage. 🙂
Raddy/Chas – I’ll write a PM for the Everton game, the only issue is that it cannot possibly be up to Raddy standards.
Chas I think it’s case of me comparing to Wengers sideways passing, for me, the team rarely went back as far as we did in the clip you posted (or last night) maybe when we had Arteta it did. And you can see how many players were pulled out of position by the movement of red shirts forward and back in that clip.
I think there was a reluctance to go backwards as much under Wenger but also the players did not move as much as they are now when it did. When it goes back we are retaining possession better and moving the bus around.
I am miffed that this has to be coached to £30m footballers though. And I guess Wenger was too.
But surely we only went back in that clip and last night because we were being pressed back by the opposition.
If you go back when they haven’t moved out at all, it looks daft.
Anyway, I’ve no idea what I’m on about so I shut up. ☺
Everton PM sent………..
Chas I did not add a team selection – I’ll leave that up to others.
I might add one myself.
Picking up again late with you Chas, I know what you mean, I think we would have tried to force the play through spaces that were not there instead of being patient and going backwards when there was no progress to be made.
Its only an opinion, of course, just feels like we are more prepared to be patient for longer, and value keeping the ball safely and not run into cul-de-sacs to lose possession and be out of position. (Admittedly I’m thinking of Hector here)
I’ve been there when we’ve given the ball away on the edge of the opponent’s penalty area and all hell has broken loose.
Hope you’re right – would be a major step forward.
wow. what a double bill. 🙂 thank u Micky, thank you LBG, and Chas as ever. 🙂
Happy. very happy. particularly for Iwobi and Holding. onwards …
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