Playing devil’s advocate I think a draw away at Leeds playing almost half the game a man down would not be so bad had it had not come on the back of that previous game with Villa, and if Spuds were not in such good form.
This all adds to the angst but we are still only seven points away. A win at Villa and a draw against Leicester, which should have been quite achievable, would see us only three behind the leaders having already played at Anfield, the Etihad and Old Trafford. Small margins eh.
I was happy to see us move to a back four because the team needs this. Despite what the weekend threw up we still need that move to a back four for us to progress, and we shouldn’t make a knee jerk reaction away from it after one game against tricky opposition with much of it played with 10 men. We are kind of entering another transition phase.
Our defence and work off the ball has improved immeasurably but now we need to find the flair and increased goal threat to go with it. Arteta hasn’t got every call right to date and has maybe misjudged when to make the changes in the transition, but the most successful managers have had tough periods when their credentials have been called into question, and I still massively believe he will move us on.
Don’t forget that he inherited a massively dysfunctional squad with little confidence and no identity. You can’t correct every aspect of the side in one hit from there, and he is likely doing the right thing by making us tougher to beat as a first port of call, even if not that pretty on the eye at present.
I still feel that we need a four pronged goal threat to really kick on. That comes from the No 9, the No 10 and the two wing forwards. Again I will say that I feel that the two wing forwards need to be, for the most part, inverted wide players to increase our goal threat, in other words a left footer on the right and vice versa to the left. Add a number 10 who can create and score in front of two DM’s and you have a potent attack while still retaining defensive solidity.
Regarding Leeds, most teams that come up into the EPL from the championship need to adapt from a more functional way of playing to a style with more guile and quality. Not so Biesla’s Leeds who were already being groomed as an EPL side even while battling their way out of the championship. They arrived already playing like an EPL quality side and have proven to be tough opposition for other bigger clubs as well before this weekend.
I took a few things away from this game:
Firstly how much better and more comfortable Auba is when getting on the ball in deeper areas rather than holding the high central line where he sees less of the ball.
His game is not best suited to holding the ball up with back to goal with defenders on his back and with fewer touches on the ball. He is far better suited to getting on the ball more in deeper areas and receiving the ball going through on goal. I think the attacking left wing forward position is the right one for him and we just need to get the rest of the forward line formation right to get him firing.
This means he needs the right No 9 to cover that work up top and act as a link player with him. Do we have that player in Laca or Eddie? Not sure. The most ideal type of striker would be a Lewandowski type. Laca isn’t as bad as many believe and he kind of does a bit of a Firmino job for us up top, operating as the foil even if not scoring himself. Eddie has that eye for goal so should also get a big look in. Putting Auba up top is not the answer to our issues and he should play off one of the other two mentioned.
Secondly we need to get Saka playing higher up the pitch. That goal scoring opportunity wasn’t as easy as it seemed. The ball already took him wide narrowing down his angle past the keeper, and really the keeper did well rather than Saka doing badly.
However, the ability of Saka to get through on goal should mean we look to get him playing a role that allows him to do this more often. The 4-2-3-1 is right but I think Mikel still needs to find his best combinations in this formation and maybe Saka should be considered for the number 10 role, or be in competition with Pepe as the inverted right side attacker.
Pepe could, however, still become a big player for us and needs to be handled well after his fall from grace, but Saka should fill in that position in his absence in the EPL games.
So I think the biggest questions are who plays No 9 and who plays the attacking CM / No 10 role, with the biggest question being on the No 10 / ACM role.
In reality I would like to see Auba, Saka and Pepe line up from left to right behind either Laca or Eddie with Partey + one other sitting behind.
I completely agree with Saka being played as a 10.
This isn’t in response to the report but I just wanted to call out how good Leno was on Sunday. I know he got MOTM but nobody’s mentioned anything about him since his amazing performance. I honestly believe he’s the best shot stopper in the League right now his set play corners and he’s playing out of defence are not bad but his ability to stop goals is world class.
I also think the Saka as a 10 should at least be tested to see how good he is there maybe a Europa game would be a good idea. However don’t forget how good Saka and Martinelli were before he got injured so Mikel might be waiting to pair them up again before trying anything different with Saka.
Sean and Mig
There seems to be a real, groundswell of support for the idea of Saka as a No 10. Will Arteta try it? Let’s hope so – I too would like to see it.
Mig – two of Leno’s saves on Sunday were absolutely top class: one down low and one that was heading for the top corner. I agree his shot stopping is exceptional.
If I have had a complaint with him it has been his tendency to punch or parry in situations where it looked like he could have caught the ball. One of the things I liked about Martinez during his run in the team was the way his first instinct was to catch crosses etc. He felt like a bit of a throwback to the days of Jennings, Seaman etc.
Thanks for a well argued post GoonerB (and for adding some positivity to the discussion given that most of us have been down in the dumps since Sunday).
Saka @ no.10 – definitely. I’ve been saying that will be his position. Mikel probably protecting him currently.
Leno had a great game – props.
The reaction on the blogosphere to Arsenal’s current malaise appears hysterical to me. Mik needs time.
Good Morning All,
GB, that is an excellent Post, and I really enjoyed the read — so much so, I did not have the heart to pull your leg — except for the ‘knee jerk’ reference as I see no analogy between that and a grave disappointment — especially as knee jerks seem to be in short supply at the moment as I have never seen a knee jerk, tho I have seen plenty of jerks with knees. 😁
“We want our Arsenal back”
Always the most ridiculous song and as proven by so much angst and hand wringing across social media there is no hard consensus as to what precise Arsenal they want back, apart from it should win games comfortably never concede a goal and play with flair whilst working their socks off.
That’s a hard ask, Maureens job at Spuds was so much easier than Arteta’s he had the basis of a good team (Poch’s run of poor form came from exhaustion and lack of squad investment). Klopp didn’t get a winning formula right away, Guardiola had instant success but has found it hard to replicate even with his embarrassment of riches. If we want to compare it is probably with Man United. We have seen what multiple managerial changes will mean.
So I think GB your assessment of the current situation is spot on.
Arteta doesn’t look like a happy man, that’s a good thing, he clearly expects more from his players and I don’t doubt he is working to achieve it.
What about that no 9 position? As you are right it will never be PEAs best position he needs space to run into and needs to be facing goal, so he needs a hold up man, who can play with back to goal and bring others in, we used to have a very decent player at doing just that, Olivier, however I do think we have one in the ranks who can do it, Gabriel Martinelli, he is tough, physically big and better than OG has good pace to support players he sets free with hold up play.
Agree with Pete. If Mikel is not given time, either by the idiots or, worse, the Board listening to the idiots, it would be a catastrophe, and things will get much worse.
Going to say it at risk of much ridicule, I think Aubang’s tenure is/should be almost up! And, as soon as all fighting fit, I would play Eddie, Martinelli, Saka and Smith-Rowe as our dynamic and youthful forward spearhead.
I am not sure Saka’s best position would be Nr. 10. I think he can be very effective as a LM or as a LFW or even on the right side.
As for Tierney, I really believe he should play as a LFB or LWB. His crossing and ability to drive the ball forward is missed when he plays central defense.
Leno – Bellerin or AMN?, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney – Partey, El Neny, Saka – Pepe, Auba, Martinelli
Would that work out?
I have been watching different leagues lately and there is one type of attacking players that is really becoming extremely influential:
– We all know about the wingers. No debate there.
– However, I can see that players that play “in the hole/pocket” of an attack are taking an increasing role in attacking outputs. It can be players like Firmino in Liverpool’s set-up, Harry Kane in Tottenham’s set up, Muller in Bayern’s set-up, Dybala in Juventus’ set-up, Yacizi in Lille, Joao Felix at Atletico…. They are the ones that play centrally at part of the front two or front three or front 4 and create the “/surplus/danger”. We have not really had a player like this since Bergkamp I suppose or maybe once when Ozil was played right behind the striker during a few months under AW.
In our current squad, I would have hoped that Lacazette could play that role but maybe it will fall to Martinelli to play that role or can Willock or Ceballos play that role?
What do you think?
Thanks Rocky. Only just switched on to see what was happening on here and found that my compost was today’s subject 🙂
Anyway I think we have a few options at number 10 that we can try out. Personally I think Willian should be our experienced option for that position. I think his wide playing days are behind him now but I think he could be excellent in the pocket in a central area. Much like Mata at Utd who has put in a couple of excellent performances in that position but now looks a bit of the pace out wide.
We have plenty of wing forward options and can choose from Auba, nelson, Martinelli and even maybe AMN from the left and Saka or pepe from the right. Willian should be an option but we can then look at Saka, ESR, Martinelli, Willock through this season to see if one of them has the ability to step up in that position.
We have good options in all 4 points of the attack, (number 9, number 10 and both inverted wing forwards), so we have better options to increase the goal threat than we have been using. I hope Arteta takes the handbrake of and lets loose a bit with that 4 point style of attack.
Almost choked at Dani in the “pocket”!
Wonder also at your repeated use of Luiz, in a first choice team AND in a four man defence.
So glad ESR and Balogun have travelled to Norway. Azeez and Cottrell have also travelled.
ESR has scored 3 goals in the last 2 games for the U23s… a goal is a rarity these days – he has to start surely?!
Looking forward to Thursday…
Thanks for comments chaps and chapesses.
Jerks with knees RA….yes I could fit that bill although it would be more accurate to say jerk with dodgy knees courtesy of the football and rugby in me yoof.
Sue, like yourself and LBG I am keen to see more of our youngsters. ESR has always intrigued me and I have often likened him to De-Bruyne. He has a high potential ceiling if his development goes well and injuries stay away.
Hi GB.. I’m a big fan of ESR and hope he has a good game on Thursday. Poor sod has been plagued with injuries -.please not another super Jack!!
I’ve enjoyed our EL games this season much more than the PL (bar United!!) 😫… so bring it on!! COYG
Hi LBG – I m also in favour of Luiz in a 3-man defense but we gotta think outside the box. Ceballos played behind a striker in Spain’s Euro-19 and basically was their most influential player during that tournament. We definitely need something else. I think the spark will come from playing Martinelli and Saka but until Martinelli joins, what do we do?