Good day everyone.
There is no getting away from it, that was a disappointing result and a disappointing performance, we can almost taste the collective disappointment in the air.
Since Mikel rocked up there has been a swell of optimism running through the club, from management to players to fans. The results haven’t been great but most can see an improvement in performances both individually and collectively from the players. So we went to Burnley and we expected a win and a good performance. Our disappointment comes from the levels of expectation we ourselves created. Had Emery still been in charged we would not have had the same levels of expectation, so the disappointment would be less. As Andrey Arshavin once famously said “Your expectations are your problems”.
The problem with putting forward excuses, is that people dismiss them even when they are valid mitigation.Well for me there were good excuses why we didn’t play very well. I say”very well” because in fact we did not play badly, actually for periods we were reasonably good, given the conditions. So lets look at the conditions for a moment.
The pitch was left with the grass long which clearly favours a less technical team. Therefore immediately we have to accept the technical side of the game will take a knock. And before people start shouting “it’s the same for both” it’s not, the more technical side loses more advantage because they have more to lose.
I felt that Arteta picked Guendouzi over Torreira partly because of the conditions and that Burnley mostly bypass the midfield, so he wanted a ball carrier rather than a shield. Unfortunately young Matteo had a game that he didn’t carry the ball well or progress it well with his passing. The problem was then made worse when Xhaka had to move from midfield to leftback, leaving us with Guendouzi and Torreira in the centre, a combination that has never worked.
One of the tactics seemed to be for Aubameyang to move more central allowing space for Saka to run into, a tactic that was working well until Saka literally got smashed out of the game. We lost our best CM ,who moved to LB and our best wide attacking threat. A double whammy.
The loss of Xhaka in CM immediately means Ozil becomes less effective because he doesn’t receive the ball as often and in as good positions. More on Ozil latter.
Move up front and we had Lacazette, badly out of form, Aubameyang not at his best on the day and Martinelli playing on the side that suits him less. Their collective hold up play was poor. Perhaps on reflection Mikel will feel he got the selection wrong, but no one was complaining when the team was announced, it looked to most that it was the right starting three.
There has been a lot of moaning about Ozil’s performance, something that I seriously can’t understand. “Mesut Özil made the most ball recoveries, created the most chances, completed the most final third passes, succeeded the most dribbles and made the most interceptions of any Arsenal player when he was on the pitch.” I don’t know what more people want from him, he can’t pass the ball to himself so he is relying on the other players to either give it back to him or do something decent with it, well on the whole they didn’t. He doesn’t have a playstation controller so he can move the others into good space and he cant make them pass the ball better. Ozil is definitely not the problem in this team.
On the bright side we look much better defensively, Mustafi didn’t put a foot wrong and play really well, Luiz looks a good player again and Hector is looking better with every minute he gets under his belt.
I have always said that we need a balanced MF, and I feel that the best one is Xhaka, Torreira and Ozil, but if circumstanced dictate that this trio is unavailable we struggle. Well circumstances did just that yesterday.
Nothing is going to stop me from being optimistic about our future under Arteta, the only question is how distant is that future and what levels of performance are we going to be happy with, because for sure, there will not be the levels of investment that will make us contenders for the league. We simply have to curtail our expectations or else we will be in a constant state of disappointment and anger.