Disconnected, Nervous but Full of Fighting Spirit: Eight Observations

Not much time tonight, but here are my eight observations:

  1. The obvious one: the eleven players on the pitch were not a team. So many misplaced balls, unspotted runs, offsites, space left in and around the box etc, etc. I know it is the start of a new era etc, etc, but still it surprised me how disconnected we played.
  2. Guendouzi is a promising player and at times even brilliant…. but he still has a lot to learn tactically. He should not have started v MC in my opinion. You cannot allow a player to run across our box and then shoot, using our defenders as a shield to fool the keeper. Guendouzi may have drive and looks good on the ball but he also made a number of mistakes.  We have better and more experienced players, like Elneny and Torreira, who really should be ahead in the picking order. Let’s ease Guendouzi in.
  3. Xhaka and Rambo, our experienced midfielders, also had ineffective games. The three did not work together well and MC ruled the midfield as a result. Some say we played much better when Torreira came on but that’s when MC put the foot off the gas and the game was truly lost. Xhaka is being targeted at the moment, and yes he had a bad game but so did Rambo, who was all over the pitch and yet unable to give us time to reshape and get control in midfield when he had the ball.
  4. Mustafi and Sokratis worked well together. Definitely not faultless, but I liked the energy and focus by the pair and I can see them grow and grow together this season.
  5. Auba, Mkhi and Ozil worked hard enough but were poor in finding each other and did not work as a well oiled machine. We had chances in this game and could have scored one, two or even more goals, but all our attackers were poor with their finishing. Ozil was rusty but he at least was in the right place at the right time a lot.
  6. Cech had it tough with the MC pressing and with receiving back pass after back pass, but he made some good saves and had no chance with the two goals we conceded. It looks like Leno will be too tough a competition for him in the long run, but Petr’s fighting spirit is simply inspiring.
  7. Lichtsteiner replaced AMN successfully and he added quite a bit of bite to our defence. Laca and Torreira also had effective cameos, and all three are pushing for a start v the Chavs.
  8. The team and the manager never gave up but they did not get a lucky break which we needed desperately. The support was great in the first half but I felt we needed more from them in the second half. It will take time for Emery to build a solid, quality unit and we as fans have to be behind the team in each and every game.

By TotalArsenal.

17 thoughts on “Disconnected, Nervous but Full of Fighting Spirit: Eight Observations

  • I thing Guendouzzi was our best midfielder today bar Torreira. Lay of the kid already. It’s his first competitive game. I think he has made himself a good case to start next game. I quite agree with every other point you raised.

  • Tactically, based on this game it appears that Emery uses the the 10 as the point man in the press. It’s what Ramsey did in the first half and what Ozil did, though not as effectively, in the second half, so that may be why Ramsey appeared to be all over the place. So as the point of the press, he’s not going to be expected to reshape immediately.

  • T, I agree, disjointed, many misplaced passes around their box by our attackers. The offside I keep mentioning are clearly part of that description. Ozil not up to his own standards, either.

    I disagree on Guendouzi, he tried to stay with Sterling running across the top of the box, but both central defenders failed to step up tight to close him down. Though Matteo did almost cost a 3rd goal … saved only by Aguero selfishness. That is an example why the great collection of Argentines never amount to anything playing as a nation.
    … Guendouzi brings a lot of dynamism that we are going to need. I do prefer him over Xhaka.
    That is the other disagreement. You are downplaying Xhakas bad performance.

    We all know, as I said just before the game began, that he has cost us by playing lazy passes in dangerous areas, or not being able to survive the press. It happened again. I don’t equate Xhakas performance with Ramsey, or the other subpar work today. Ramsey worked his tail off, all over the pitch, and was always a threat to get a goal or help get one. He also defended and pressed much better than Granit. The first goal in a game against any top team is more than crucial, and this is not the first time for Xhaka, or the second that his mistakes have cost us, or almost did.
    We are not saying to get rid of him. We are saying that he shouldn’t start against City, Tottenham, and definitely not against Liverpool, because it will happen again. I think that’s fair. He is not quick on his feet, or nimble. It’s just a fact. Find a way to keep him a useful member of the squad, but I’d rather see Guendouzi right now, even though there will be growing pains.

    Having said all that, Emery may prefer Xhaka in tandem with Torreira, because he’s so good that he can make up for Xhaka. That can work against weaker teams.

  • Jnyc. Xhaka is only out of sight due to the ball appearing at the feet of Douzi. The team played forward passes more than side passes, and it all comes down to Douzi and Lichtsteiner bringing the ball forward.

    The problem is with the misplaced passes in the final third. Still our weakness.

  • To be honest Xhaka is a liability. Ozil is worse. We supporters continue to undermine players like Welbeck who despite limitations to their game play to the best of their abilities & give everything. Xhaka is supposed to be the glue that solidifies our midfield but sadly he will never be. Ozil is supposed to be a game changer but he will never be. Like DB10 used to do Ozil must be the player all other players look up to when the going gets tough. We played rookies against Man Utd towars the end of the season and they played much better with better focus and intention. Unai must not be soft like Arsene. He must be ruthless with under performers. Ozil & Xhaka must be exiled form the team because if they can’t win the big games for us they are not serving their purpose. The team needs a radical change in mentality. Sanchez despite his problems had a big desire and drive to win. I also see Lacazette as a better finisher than Auba and his link play is much better.

  • Nice post TA..
    Guendouzi is already a better player than xhaka! I’ve never liked xhaka and never will.. to play emeryball, we need faster midfielders and xhaka ain’t one..

  • Well fellow BKers it is fine to disagree. I have high hopes for Guendouzi but you are being way too romantic about him right now. Against a team like MC the whole midfield have to click to have a chance and they did not. Xhaka, as we saw in the world cup once more, is a formidable midfielder but we have to play to his strength. We didn’t and that will need to change. Guedouzi can play in the attacking midfield role but please let’s keep him away from defensive duties for now.

    J, Ramsey motored on and on but to little effect. Playing Rambo, Ozil AND Mkhi is one midfielder too many.

  • I think what yesterday brought into focus, was the false premise that Wenger had bequeathed a great squad of players to the next manager. Arsene left a dysfunctional group of players, lacking direction and with questionable characters. You defend from the front, especially in these days of pressing pressure football, but we didn’t. Our defence was under constant assault for the entirety of yesterday’s game and on the whole they did really well but they also had very little help from our forward players. I’m not going to dig out individuals because it was a collective failure on their behalf, but Emery will be learning a lot from games likes these because champions perform in these games, champions love these games, champions don’t hide in these games.

    I said the other day that it’s going to take Emery two years, three more transfer windows for Emery to bring in the players he needs and for Unai to move on those players who cannot adapt.

    Good post Total.

  • Kev, good points. I wonder how much still gets lost in translation. You may remember I was keen on a dual language speaker as Unai’s assistant but he went for another Spaniard. It was a tough game to start with and psychologically it did not go as we hoped for, but I really don’t agree on your players assessment. System, tactics, philosophy, hard work on the training ground, and starting to gel much better. Give it time, we will come good with this set of players. Unai will turn it round! 🙂

  • TA, that’s a balanced post. And you’re very quick on the draw. I have something in your BOX.

    The result didn’t hurt me. Rather glad that our first game threw up materials Emery would use to progress the team. And what better introduction to the premier league for him than a match against the league’s juggernaut.

    Guendouzi would learn quickly to cement his obvious high rating. I don’t know about Xhaka overcoming his slow limbs.

    NM …. thanks for that point. Emery must have given Ramsey a special brief on high pressing. Ramsey then converted it into a license to usurp the striker.

    I was happy with the back 5 except when it came to playing the ball on the ground from the back. Poor Cech.

    The fans were fantastic but we have to face the fact that their patience should not be overstretched. In football patience easily wears thin.

    On the whole I think there is progress measured in terms of commitment to a new direction.

  • Total, you have made a great point about communication and yes, it must be an issue with some of our players, especially if he’s coaching in English. I’m not sure what other languages Unai speaks, I would imagine that being a Basque, that he can speak French and as we have a lot of French and Spanish speakers so no issue there.

    You are an experienced international footballer, do you need to be told to track runners, do you need to be told to make runs and make yourself available for a forward pass, do you need to be told to drop back and help out your defenders and midfielders, I don’t think so?

    But as you rightly say, I will give it time, I will look on the bright side of life, I will makes a cup of tea and enjoy my garden. 😀

  • Have a rich tea(m) biscuit with it, Kevski 🙂

    All agree my friend but comms is the hardest thing to get right, ever since the building of the Tower of Babel…. 😉

  • I agree TA, but with reservations
    I don’t think xhaka suits a fast pressing team like mancity.. he’s got a wand of a left footno doubt, but he seems way too slow to fit into our new system.. he needs a beastly partner to buy him time on the ball.we don’t have that luxury for now until torreira or guen stefani develops into their future selves..
    Btw, I think there’s a need to give youth the chance towards the end of games to build their confidence.. e.g. I’d have brought Nelson or nketia in place of ozil in that match..
    I’ve got serious hopes for this team..I’m sure we’ll make it into a top4 spot this season.

  • Hi all..
    I think the reason of the disconnected play.. is the starting line up..
    Ramsey in the Ozil post..
    Guendouzi rule make Xhaka vanish..
    And Ozil as a winger.. hehehe..

    After this game.. Xhaka must work harder to gain his place again.. Torriera, Guendouzi, Elneny and Ramsey will make him rest a lot..

    Ozil.. please don’t ever see him as a striker.. he will never be a good one in that position.. Like Voltus said.. hehehe.. better Nelson in that position.. and I agree.. totally agree.
    If Emery think he won’t suite for our CAM then better sell him..
    For me Ozil is CAM.. period. Germany win WC 2014 with Ozil in that post.. And fail when Ozil becoming a winger.. whatever free role you give him.. in a winger position.. Ozil won’t give a value added..

    Bad result in our first game, can be a blessing if Emery know what to do next..
    So.. next game against Chelsea will be as hard as lastnight.. But I believe next game will be so much different.. hehehe..
    Go Gunners.. VCC

  • Thank you for the postgame review TA– and, actually have found another perspective on the screen capture I posted in-game on Xhaka being out of position for Sterling’s goal. I’ll circle back to that in a second post.

    Find myself both honored and slightly amused on topics I’d mentioned (first?).
    One in June. The other last January.
    Believe it was in a post you’d written TA– about the possible naming of Xhaka as captain, in June, shortly after Emery was unveiled. Did my due diligence and posited that everywhere UE had managed to-date, he showed proclivity for naming Spanish-speaking captains (except at Spartak, where no one did). My recommendation was Monreal at the time (and in that vein). Shard had asked whom among his captains at PSG spoke Spanish (I’d located an article on the club; where, somewhat oddly, the prevalent language in the changing room was Italian). Did some further digging, and IIRC found evidence that Marquinhos (3rd captain) spoke Spanish. So I’ll lay claim to that idea.

    Back in January, when I was claiming on BK– ‘there was a plan in place’ for SI(and soon, R) to restock the roster and revamp the club– I endured some catcalls and snideness*. Then, and in detail I also predicted, shortly after the surprising moves in late-January– that it might take 2 to three further transfer windows (as Kev has expressed upthread) to accomplish what SIR felt necessary to become contenders once again. Still feel that will be the case.
    (*Also prognosticating AW’s departure in Summer (correct); and Arteta’s arrival (so-close-to-correct, even Ornstein was wrong).)

    Now, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to replicate that series of calls again. The situation has changed internally and the decision-tree has been altered markedly. But I will lay claim to having been clear on what was occurring when the tectonic shifts began early this year.


  • Mea culpa.
    As for my calling out Xhaka on Sterling’s goal in real-time yesterday? I was wrong.
    Upon further reviewing in slo-mo on the DVR– Xhaka was not at-fault.

    City created 2 defensive mismatches– with midfielders and even fullbacks (in this instance Gundogan and Mendy) making attacking runs toward the box.

    Guendouzi had just tracked Gundogan man-to-man on a run through the box toward the far post. When the ball was crossed-over to the opposite side for Bellerin to head– Mendy gathers and sends the ball quickly to Sterling. Mendy, then makes a run toward the box– Ozil follows. Guendouzi bursts back across the 18– overrunning where he could have helped on Sterling. In hindsight? Here, Matteo could have flattened Sterling barely outside the 18– and taken the booking.

    However. At this point, aside from Guendouzi? Five other defenders covering 4 attacking players. Xhaka picked up Gundogan. Sokratis has Ageuro. Ozil on Mendy. So when Sterling cuts inside Bellerin? It’s actually Mustafi– without a man to cover.

    Didn’t have time to convert video to an image to post here. Maybe later.
    Buildup starts at 13:30 game time, if you are so inclined.

    My 2¢ — upon further review.


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