Many regulars on BK will know how much I detest the focus on one or more players when things go wrong. I understand that disappointment needs a target and it is much easier to aim it at a single player than at the whole club, its system of football or even the management of the team. Blaming effing ‘lazy Ozil’, effing ‘liability Xhaka’, etc is just so appealing for so many.
Players do not just do well out of pure intrinsic motivation and ability. They are part of a team and need to operate in a system of football, and as 1/11 of the whole team they can only have a limited impact on it. If I have learned one thing over the years about football it is that system of football is King, not the total sum of the qualities of the players on the pitch.
ArseTeta appears to be a manager who focusses hard on a system of football with a strong set of values, and he is using the squad to fit into this. And all of a sudden the players who were written of by many start to show us how good they are. A defence that gets protected can take a breath and organise itself; its individual footballers gain confidence and play much better. A midfield that gets support from the attackers can stay more in position and don’t have to cover acers of space; they are then able to boss the area and support both defence and attack much better. An attack that gets support from all areas – both wings and through the middle – will start to enjoy themselves again and score goals much easier (this still needs to come).
I don’t want to put the boot too much into emery – more than has been done already – but it is fair to say that his system of football did not work for us and individual players became less confident and then effective under his management. Arteta appears to be turning this round, although it is of course still early days. We look much more compact and play as a strong unit in which everybody fights for each other. Players are enjoying themselves again, and Arteta, unlike Unai, seems to understand how to motivate the Millennials.
I am over the moon with Arteta’s approach: to see Mesut, Lucas and Granit come to the fore again is just pure ecstasy. The big question is, though, what will happen when one of them gets injured? Our back up players are all young and seemingly not ready to replace them: Guendouzi, Willock and ESR are all promising players but even Arteta will struggle to get them ready for the big midfield roles.
Now, we have Ceballos who can stand in for Ozil and possibly Granit. I am not yet convinced about him but he is ahead of the youngsters just mentioned. But that is it. An injury to Torreira especially is likely to cost us. So this January, Arteta/Arsenal have to buy back up. The good news is that Arteta will know exactly what he needs and the tabloid rumours are encouraging.
Arteta has of course two more internal options: bring back Elneny, who I have always rated, or turn Ainsley Maitland Niles in a Torreira-Terrier. But maybe the best thing to do is to buy right now as to give the squad a boost and fill the gap instantly.
I would love Francis Coquelin to return to Arsenal, but I guess that ship has sailed. I feel he still has unfinished business at Arsenal, but whether the club would want to pay Valencia good money for him is doubtful.
Any realistic suggestions from fellow BKers?