Arsenal in The Middle of a Defensive Dilemma

August 16, 2019

Let’s look at the best DM’s around and figure out who we’d take if we had our choice. Then let’s see who we have and what they’re capable of. Then come to a conclusion on how we should best set up.

For me, past best was Busquets. Best now is Kante in my opinion.

A good DM needs the following attributes in this order

1) Positional discipline
2) Ability to win the ball including anticipation and agility
3) Reading the game and opponents in possession
4) Pressure in our defensive third to stop easy balls though and behind the last line
5) Ball distribution
6) Offensive threat and creativity including goals

I think Busquets had 1-4 in spades and 5 was just a Barca thing. Kante has 1-4. Strangely enough Sarri didn’t think that was enough and brought in Georginho who has #1 and 5 but lacks the rest from what I see.

If I could pick a DM for us it would be Kante. His extreme engine makes him better than the rest just because if he is out of position his recovery speed is incredible. Leicester and Chelsea will attest to that.

So what do we have?  No Kante. That’s certain.

Torreira is the closest in my opinion. Probably a little better distribution but definitely the best at winning possession and breaking up play.

Guendouzi has the engine but lacks a little positional discipline and probably not as good a ball winner.

You all probably know how I feel about Xhaka but if not, let me clarify. He has 5 and 6. No clue about 1-4. Probably our least effective DM as far as I can see.

Luiz would be proficient at 2 and 5 and Chambers at 1 and 4.

So for me,Torreira is way ahead and Guendouzi next best. For those of you that think Willock, I’d agree 100% on one contingency. Emery.

And that’s where I see the solution lies. UE needs to act like a manager in control of his team and instruct – no DEMAND that his DM plays the role. I think Joe Willock would happily do the job if he’s given the task and he checks all the boxes. So come on Unai, sort it out and make us solid. Pep, Klopp and Pochettino would. Will you?

Mike M

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David Luiz Could Mean The End Of Ozil

August 15, 2019

Arsenal’s signing of David Luiz on the final day of the transfer window divided opinion among the faithful.

But love or hate the fuzzy-haired Brazilian beanpole, I fancy that few of us have fully considered the impact he’s likely to have on our style of play this season.

It could be massive, and here’s why.

Although we have had some good footballing centre backs (Mertesacker stands out in recent years) we have never had what you might call a “deep-lying playmaker.” And that’s exactly what Luiz is when given the chance.

How does a deep-lying playmaker affect the way we play? Well, in just about every way you can think of…

We have grown used to Arsenal teams where the primary responsibility for creativity has come from attacking midfielders or withdrawn strikers: the likes of Ozil, Cazorla, Ramsey (some of the time), Fabregas, Arshavin even Sanchez on occasion.

In this system our defenders’ job is to bring the ball out from the back and give it to the “creative” players ahead of them (an alternative being to push it down the wings to wide players who, invariably with Arsenal, then cut inside and lay it off to the creatives).

It’s not an unusual approach – most top teams do it (although some make better use of wide attackers than we do). But at Arsenal in the later Wenger years and also during Emery’s first season it has led to a constipated way of playing: we get an uncomfortable blockage in the middle and when we eventually manage to squeeze it out there’s a huge feeling of relief, only to start all over again.

The build-up is slower, opponents can organise their defence and we need to use guile to break them down rather than speed and power. When we manage a rare breakaway goal (as we did with the winner at Newcastle) we all get excited and remark how it’s the sort of goal we used to score during the Invincibles era.

The “central guile” approach was a deliberate policy by Wenger after the break-up of the Invincibles when he was building a team around Cesc Fabregas, modelled on the Barcelona tiki-taka style and we have never really shaken it off since.

What does Luiz offer?

In short, something we have not had for years – a talented play-maker from deep. He can bring the ball out from the back and dictate the play with his excellent range of passing or with his willingness to advance with the ball at his feet, commit opposition players and then find the gaps.

Examples of deep-lying play-makers that come to mind are Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Andrea Pirlo (for Italy and Juventus) and, interestingly enough, Jack Wilshire for England for a while under Roy Hodgson, before injuries lost him his place (again) and then Hodgson lost his place after England’s abysmal performance at the World Cup in Brazil.

Of course, none of those are primarily central defenders like Luiz, so perhaps a better comparison is one of the best players ever to have graced the turf: Franz Beckenbauer at Bayern Munich and as a World Cup winner for West Germany (in the days before German reuinifcation).

Beckenbauer was a more reliable defender than Luiz but his ability to dictate play from the back was similar. Germany built such a successful system around him and this approach that they made two World Cup finals (winning one) and two European Championship finals (again, winning one) with it in just six years.

If this is how Luiz is going to play for us, what are the implications?

Well, for a start there is a lot less need for a playmaker further forward, which might mean curtains for Mesut Ozil. In fact I would not be completely shocked if we offload Ozil before the foreign transfer windows close (DC United anyone?).

Don’t believe me? Look at the Chelsea team that won the Premier League in 2017 with David Luiz playing a central role. Notwithstanding a few appearances from poor old Cesc (after Wenger sadly declined to bring him home to Arsenal as he’d hoped), Chelsea played most of that season without an out-and-out playmaker ahead of Luiz. They had protective midfielders like Kante and Matic and pacey attackers like Hazard, Pedro and Willian, with a despicable but undoubtedly effective goal machine up front in Diego Costa.

I know you could describe Hazard as a playmaker, but really he’s a wide attacker who is blessed with such brilliance that he can bring in other players at will and change games on his own.

Don’t be surprised to see this year’s Arsenal resemble that Chelsea team.

One positive aspect to starting our playmaking from the back is that it gives us a chance to return to the pace-and-power approach that worked so well in the first half of Wenger’s Arsenal tenure.

Although we did not have a defender-playmaker under Wenger we were able to move from defence to attack very quickly, whether through Seaman-Vieira-Overmars-Bergkamp-Anelka or through Lehmann-Vieira-Pires/Ljungberg-Henry.

For Arsenal 2019-20, with Luiz taking the lead playmaking, role perhaps a future first team line-up looks like this: Leno, Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Tierney, Luiz, Guendouzi, Torreira, Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang.

Well, I for one would be pretty excited by that. And, of course, we have sufficient squad depth and strength to change it up as needed for particular opponents or if it just isn’t working in a given game.

Am I barking up the wrong tree with this? Or just barking?

Let me know…

RockyLives


Happy as a Mad Brazillian?

August 9, 2019

I said before the window that our 2 main areas of concern last season were the defence and the attacking midfield areas. Fast forward a couple of months and we’ve signed 3 defenders and 3 attacking players.

Very, very happy.

I cannot wait to see Pepe and Tierney in the side and Luiz and Ceballos should get plenty of games too and improve on what we have. Martinelli has looked capable in pre season and should develop, and hopefully Saliba will be first team ready when he arrives next summer.

We’ve gotten rid of a few fringe players in Bielik, Jenkinson and Ospina, aswell as seeing Iwobi, Ramsey and Koscielny leave. However, none of those losses feel too hurtful as we’ve known about Ramsey for a while, Koscielny is no longer what he once was, and Iwobi just didn’t seem to be developing. I really like the Nketiah loan deal to Leeds too and it would be fantastic if he could fire them into the PL and earn himself another 12 months their next season to see if he’s ready for the top flight.

A net spend of around £80m and a feeling that we’ve strengthened our attack significantly whilst managing not to make an already porous defence weaker despite losing our captain. We’ve even managed to look to the future with the signings of Saliba and Martinelli, aswell as the integration into the first team of Willock, Nelson, Martinez and Saka.

A very successful summer from the Arsenal hierarchy. The addition of Edu and the work that’s been done by the transfer guru’s might have just started to repair what was a crumbling relationship between the fans and the men at the top. It looks like we will be an exciting team to watch this season and I can’t wait for the football to start.

Over to Unai to make Arsenal great again!

fatgingergooner


David Luiz in an Arsenal Shirt … Yes? … No? … Indifferent?

August 8, 2019

When the news broke that Arsenal were considering taking a discontented David Luiz off of Chelsea’s hands, supporters heads were in a spin. Was this the best business we could do to replace Koscienly? Feels a bit like Sylvestre all over again.

Luiz, at 32, is an experienced defender, he’s played in the Premiership and won things with Chelsea. We’ve watched him for years and know that he’s strong and wily and prone to go missing. He likes working with Emery but doesn’t like to be criticized so I’m not sure that’s really the personality we want but we do need a CB ……… and he’ll be ready to go.

These comments from some of our bloggers sum up different views.

LB says:

I go out for five minutes and we are talking about David effing Luiz.

For goodness sake……………I despair.

RC78 says:

I saw David Luiz at Psg and he is a good footballer and a decent defender. I don’t mind seeing him join AFC because he also adds a very very credible option at DM. When he played there at Psg for a few matches, he did excellent because his passing and positioning is rather good. He is also good at free kicks and is a serious aerial threats on set pieces. Big issue with him is that he has lapses and can let an attacker go unmarked or he ll get Booked stupidly. Another reason to get excited is that he had his best season with Conte when they played 3 at the back and I think that he would form quite a partnership with Holding and Sokratis at the back: Holding – Sok – Luiz

LBG says:

Despair is my reaction, LB.
Following the positivity of the rest of our signings, Luiz is a backward step, and no I dont believe will be an improvement whether CB or MF. Disruptive, ill disciplined, and most of all will he knuckle down and work on combinations for the good of a team in red.
Not a chance!
And finally, why would we ever be reconsidering three at the back. Doesn’t work unless all three are lightning quick and good positionally and even Holding lacks pace, let alone the Greek barge.
Dont do it please, Dick!

And this from fatgingergooner

Only way another CB other than Luiz comes in is if we get deals sorted for at least a couple of Iwobi/Kolasinac/Elneny to leave. Surely now it’s too late to think a deal will be done for a £20m-£40m defender? Luiz and Tierney would bring our outgoing to about £140m.

Luiz is the new CB. Time to get on board and get excited about the season. He had a solid campaign for Chelsea last year in a back 4 a lot of the time. No reason he can’t do the same for us this season.

Is he going to make our defence impenetrable? No.

Realistically, is there a CB out there who could do that within our transfer budget? No.

Is it he better than what we currently have? Yes and proven in PL so can play from day 1.

Maybe Transfer Deadline Day will bring some more surprises ……………….. just a few hours to go.

peachesgooner


Mighty Mustafi

October 6, 2016

 

Is it possible to assess the effect of a player upon the future of Arsenal FC after just a few games? Normally No, but every so often a player just ….. fits.

Think back to April 1996. We were playing Sheffield Wednesday (what happened to them?) and losing 1-0 when Ray Parlour got injured. Onto the pitch came a lanky French kid as his replacement and by half time, just 17 minutes, we knew we were witnessing the arrival of Wenger’s Arsenal. Despite Wrighty scoring a hatrick PV4 was named MotM.

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It would be hyperbole to say that Mustafi will make a similar impact at AFC but he has done all we could ask so far. As I wrote above – he fits. In just a few weeks he has  meshed with Kos into a fine CB partnership. BFG, Gabriel and Holding will struggle to get pitch time as a CB pairing are rarely rotated.

There have been concerns about our lack of height at set pieces and we do appear to be vulnerable;  at Burnley, Vokes could and should have scored plus some blob hit the bar. Kos and Xhaka are both 6´1″ and Mustafi just 6´0″. Santi, Sanchez, Theo, Bellerin, Monreal etc are all under 5´10″. I guess we will have to rely on our massive GK who stands at 6´5″!

€35m makes Mustafi the 4th most expensive defender in world football, today it appears to be money well spent. Who would you prefer – David Luiz, John Stones, Mangala, Ottamendi or Mustafi? BTW Mangala is out on a season’s loan at Valencia which is why we haven’t seen much of the oaf.

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What do I like about Mustafi? His positional awareness is excellent, his passing conversion averages over 85%, he is not afraid to carry the ball, he is vocal and already bosses the defence, his tackling is powerful and the man will not be bullied- will he Mr Costa?

What I do not like is his first name …. Shkodran. What kind of a parent names their kid Shkodran? What is wrong with Peter or Michael or Brian? And yes, I know his parents are Albanian – it doesn’t excuse them.

I rarely make predictions but here is one – Mustafi will be the next Captain of Arsenal. He is that good.

written by Big Raddy


The Mole. Can Benitez finish the Job?

January 20, 2013

Doesn’t seem that long ago since Terry hit the dirt and watched as Brave Sir Robin danced away from him. Happy Days.

And what chance of a repeat today? Well, we did it against the Cave Dwellers so why not against Chelsea? I know, I know – lightning doesn’t strike twice but in a world of infinite probabilities, it does!

Both teams are going through an inconsistent patch. Chelsea’s home loss to QPR was inexplicable but so was ours at Bradford. We have both lost at home to Swansea. The main difference being that Chelsea have a squad which cost at least double Arsenal’s and a bottomless pit of money to overcome any problems; they also sack managers with alarming regularity.

Benitez. Why? What kind of incompetent signed this man? How can Chelsea employ a manager who a few years previously publicly stated his dislike of the manner in which they do business? Bizarre. But one must be impressed by they way Rafa is doing his best to destroy the club, a loss or draw to us and Swansea will see the Chavs out of the CC and with no chance of winning the PL. Perhaps he is on a huge earner from the Northern Oilers. Fairplay to the man!

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Do you think it is to Arsenal’s advantage to have Arteta injured for a while? Could the midfield of Diaby, JW and Santi function more cohesively? Admittedly, we only have a reduced Swansea to compare and today will be a far sterner test, but I believe this will become our first choice midfield (though how long Diaby can stay fit is impossible to predict). None of them are  defensive players but both JW and Diaby are strong in the tackle. Concentration will be the key and a full awareness of who ventures forward . For this reason I would play and  extra MF – either Coquelin or Ramsey, both of whom played well on Wednesday.

For this reason having Koscielny out is also positive, BFG’s lack of pace requires hime to sit deeper! I must say, I am worried about Ba, he is in fine form and loves scoring against us. Furthermore, the excellent wingers at Chelsea will cause major problems to both Sagna and Gibbs.

Runners & Riders:

chavs v arse

Of course, playing a 4-4-2 is not Wengerball, but I doubt AW will start the game with Giroud upfront and he is unlikely to trust Ox in a game where we will be under the cosh.

Stamford Bridge is a strange place, an uglier ground it would be hard to find, but then it has to house some of the ugliest fans in world football. If one were to make a League of teams with the ugliest fans Chelsea would get a Champions League slot every season, Stoke would win the Prem most years 🙂

Today’s English Explorer is from the Days of Yore, and one of England’s Finest. Sir Walter Raleigh (1552 – 1618). An aristocrat and favourite of QE1, he is best known for his colonisation of North America and the introduction of tobacco to England and the world (how costly has that been?). His first colony was in Virginia where tobacco was harvested  – it got the Royal Seal from Her Maj and thus became the famous Royal Virginia tobacco.

He discovered Guyana and explored East Venezuala. His ship was the first Ark Royal which was a gift from QE1.

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Top Bloke. Full Set. Knighthood. Beheaded.

Raleigh wasn’t just an explorer he was also one of England’s great warriors.We all know the story of his defeat of the Spanish Armada, but what is less known is that after Elisabeth died and King James came to the throne, Raleigh was imprisoned in The Tower for 13 years for “plotting against the Crown”. Following an unsuccessful expedition to South America in search of El Dorado, he was re-arrested and beheaded. His head was embalmed and sent to his wife who kept it in a velvet bag until her death when it was re-united with his body.

Two defensive errors cost us the game at the Emirates; we weren’t outplayed and had the better of the game. Raddy would be satisfied with a point.

COYRRG

Big Raddy