The way I feel right now, this could be my last article. I’ve lost faith in people to think or behave reasonably. The negativity is stomach turning. Still, this is not another rallying call, or a dig at the fans, goodness knows we all have reasons to be unhappy.
Before I go on, let me first admit that what you are about to read is ill researched, and based on my thoughts, which as far as tactics go, are about as valuable as a handful of beans.
Lets first look at what we know.
A) Arsenal are worse than last year.
B) Arsenal are just not playing like Arsenal.
C) Something has gone badly wrong.
D) Something has happened to make A B and C come about.
When we were at our best last year, we had Arteta and Ramsey in the deeper positions shielding the back 4. That system basically won Szczesny the golden glove. In most games both players had passing % in the mid 90’s and sometimes upward of 100 touches each on the ball.
In front of them we had Mesut, a player you can give the ball to and he will cherish it, if he cant make a telling pass, he simple recycles it and control is kept, the ball is kept. Control is keep. Calm is keep.
Giroud could be given the ball, he would hold it up and lay it of to the MF, we know how effective Aaron was arriving from deep. We looked good, top of the league and going well . The system worked. The league standings for two thirds of the campaign proved it.
However, there was a problem. Without Theo (or anyone else with pace) teams could come out and pressure the MF sure in the knowledge that Giroud, or anyone else, would not run in behind them. Without pace there was a way of stopping us.
When we bought Sanchez my thoughts were that he would give the pace and goals that Theo gives in that system. he seemed the perfect answer. He could play wide right until Theo was fit, he could play wide left for Santi, and if needs be he could play at CF if a shake up was required. In other words we could rotate and have cover for injuries in all the areas where pace is vital.
Of course fate took a hand and we lost Giroud, Ozil, and for much of the time Arteta.
So rather than coming in to a settled team and improving us, Sanchez has come into a totally disrupted team and changed us.
For all his heroics he struggles to make 70% pass completion. That, from mainly the centre of the field, is shocking. For all his effort and endeavour his ball retention is pathetic. And yes , I know he he is a marvelous player and scores goals right left and centre, but he is like a rower in a boat that’s stronger than the other guys but because hes rowing out of sync the boat is going slower.
It gets worse when other players think it a good idea to play like that and go chasing the ball or turning it over for no obvious reason. It worried me when the Ox, said “we should follow the example of Alexis” . Thats fine if the example followed is chasing down the ball in the final third and scoring goals. However, if its giving the ball away time after time in the middle of the park and not managing to pass the simplest of balls to a teammate, not so much.
For a long time I’ve though our tactics have been to start fast and if we didn’t get a goal early control possession and run the legs off the opposition. Then go again in the last 20 minutes when they were tired and Arsene’s famous late substitutions were made. Now though its us who have no legs in the last 20 and have our legs run off chasing the ball.
We will just have to wait and see how it all works when we have the players back. But its not working right now.
Should we have bought a 4th choice CB ? Well yes, on the face of it
Should we have bought a player that can cover or replace Mikel ? Well yes, on the face of it.
But would that have altered any of the things I’ve mentioned ?
Ramsey is simply not the player he was last year ! Or does he just suffer from the loss of shape that saw him playing to his strengths ?
The greatest strength of our team has been weaving patterns of play that confuse the opponents and open up opportunities. There is zero chance of that happening with a 70% pass completion .
Of course if would be better if Koscielny and Debuchy were fit, but they would just be better defenders playing behind the same chaos.
Arsene cant be exempt from criticism. No matter what the circumstances its his job to find the answers. But I for one am willing to wait until we at least see something resembling our best 11 and he is given the chance to bring in the players of world class level I believe he is searching for, in the positions we all know are weaknesses.
I understand the frustrations of fans, indeed I share them, but I am not about to suggest throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
So thats it , my tuppence worth. Like it or lump it. I accept that it could be complete bollocks.
Now as far as this site goes, I’m going to see how the comments go and decide if the blog has a future or purpose. To be quite honest it feels like I’m pissing into the wind at the moment.