Editors Note: Professor Geoff (JGC, Geoff Chase), our American Gooner based in New Zealand, submitted the following piece BEFORE the Crystal Palace match. Clearly he was up for the match, but also thinking about the team and our football in a very unique way. See what you think of the article–and if Arsenal followed the Professor’s advice. –17HT
This is a short piece on one of my many “theories” on football. I hesitate to use the word without quotation marks. You’ve heard from me before on defense, the all-important transition, as well as on the need for players with “Presence!” (note the ! in there). And, now, given the WHU game, and without any idea what will happen today as I will be on one of the many airlines my career seems to subsidize, it’s time to talk about attack.
And that is where water comes in. No, it’s not about proper hydration, though I could chat on the topic a fair bit. It’s about how water flows, and how, in particular, Arsenal football, should flow the same way in attack.
First up, what do we know about how water flows. Well, the following are generally held to be true except for very rare special cases:
- Water flows downhill.
- The steeper the hill, the faster and more ferociously it flows.
- It doesn’t like obstacles, and will flow both into, but mostly around, them.
- The fewer the obstacles, all else being equal, the faster the flow.
So, how’s that like football? Well let’s say that downhill is like having more players than the defenders. On attack, we should always be seeking numbers and advantage. The steeper the hill, the better the numbers and the faster our water flows to the opposition goal. Equally, the fewer obstacles, the more direct it is.
But, even with obstacles, water can flow fast and slow. Go hiking and you will see torrents turn to trickles, and, as it finds another incline and gathers together again, back to torrents. That’s the patience part about it, and as long as it flows, it goes. So, sideways can happen and isn’t a bad thing, as long as it is flowing!
Thus, on attack, we are blessed with one of the most creative and silky midfields around. Not the biggest, or toughest, or most direct. But, silky, smooth, fast and flowing. Like water! 🙂
But, here is another fact:
–Constrain it, and it barely flows at all, requiring excessive time and wear to seep through.
Water in this form is highly corrosive and will eventually wear through obstacles if allowed to flow. But, the more constrained, the longer that takes. There is no silky smooth there, just bludgeoning and boring, with requirements for patience.
Thus, when we attack, we should be seeking numbers, letting the ball flow fast and rapid all over the field, unconstrained, to find those narrow points of access to attack. Other teams will try to sit back, park the bus, and force us to win by erosion and corrosion – sometimes, or too often for our comfort, making us rely on “the luck of the bounce.”
However, and here is where the WHU match comes in, we also constrain ourselves. When we don’t let the ball flow and hold it too long we reduce our chances to find numbers or a steep incline. When we narrow the pitch, we allow ourselves to be constrained further.
Worse, when we do that, we naturally remove the ability of our team. More directly, we try to turn water into something it isn’t well equipped to do.
What we want then is the ball moving. All over the field, using width to find numbers and create advantage. Using Giroud as a point to hold the ball and bring numbers to him to allow the pass off to find numbers, perhaps wide, perhaps not, elsewhere. Fast ball, making the pitch large. All simple stuff and all unstoppable with our midfield if we get out and do it… with the composure it requires.
And, that’s the last point. Composure… Water is a substance, Arsenal are a team of people. Water has composure by simply following the laws of physics that define its nature. Arsenal must implement and impose that composure in the style that best suits them.
Simple as that, football, the Arsenal way, and with this team in particular, is like water. Fast moving, silky and smooth when flowing well, always seeking a steep incline to rush forward and find the next gap. That is, to me, Arsenal football, the football we are best equipped to play.
So, what are your thoughts? Are we water? Or some other substance? Why?
Here’s hoping Crystal Palace is like a massive rapids of Arsenal on the attack!