WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN EXPECTING! by Uche
Hello everybody. I am sure we are all in a much better place after yesterday’s giant killing. I enjoyed that performance very much. It was unbelievable ,and when the final whistle was blown, I was left in deep thought. How did we lose against Olympiakos a few days ago and then thrash Manchester United a few days later? Is it inconsistency or complacency? I am beginning to have an idea why we are losing to teams we are expected to beat such as West ham, Dynamo Zagreb and Olympiakos and it has nothing to do with the garbage in the media about an Arsenal complacency, regression or inconsistency. On the contrary, it is because we have progressed and with that progress has come growing pains.
Arsenal has finally been elevated to that elite European team that everybody fears. The consequence of that is that many teams are now playing us the way they play Barcelona and Bayern Munich. They sit back, defend with two banks of four and hope to hit us on the counter. This is a new situation for us and we are struggling to find solutions to this problem. Sometimes we have succeeded in winning such games and at other times, we have not been as effective.
We beat a Newcastle United team that sealed their post with ten men and we also scored goals against Dynamo and Olympiakos. Had we finished with eleven men against Dynamo, who knows? We might have drawn or won that game.
Teams like Barcelona and Bayern Munich have had a lot of practice playing against bus parking teams under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, the best tactician in European football. They have excelled and found multiple solutions to compact teams, and of course with players like Lionel Messi and Arjen Robben in these teams, more wins are guaranteed. If we had a Messi or Robben in our team, we will be winning these tight games too. So am I surprised that we beat Manchester United the way we did? Not really. It has been a long time coming. Give this Arsenal team the space to play and they will murder you. We have always played the better football but with poor finishing – while they played badly and won from effective counters. But the signs of our improvement has been there for a while, especially last season at the Emirates when we lost to United 2-1. We battered them in that game even more than we did yesterday but we just did not take our chances.
So it is no surprise that yesterday, everything eventually clicked with our finishing and we put out the kind of performance Wenger has always known we are capable of, because he sees these boys in training every day, whereas we only get to see them for ninety minutes twice a week.
So where do we go from here? Are we now going to be playing like this in every game? No way. You need space to play like that and many more teams will park the bus while playing us – meaning that the results of these games will be mixed. This is what we should expect. Opponents are adapting and improving. We need to show them respect by not expecting to win every game. This is the best fan outlook on these games. The alternative is to unrealistically expect to win every game and when we don’t, we proclaim we are in crisis. It is time we viewed football with more brains than emotion.
Observe the trend. With so much money in football, the average European team can now buy 20 million pound players too and with that, the playing field is leveling. The days of the super team are numbered. Bayern Munich just might be the last of the super teams. Every other team has drawn and lost games this season. But Arsenal is getting better at playing these compact teams. Without the space to play, winning has become extremely difficult. But we are scoring goals and we put two past Olympiakos even with their very tight defense. What we must learn now is how to maintain absolute concentration at the back when we have so much possession. Possession gives you a false sense of security. When we keep the ball for so long and our keeper has had nothing to do for long stretches of the game, that is when we are most vulnerable to an efficient counter attack. Ospina may be low on confidence but he is not the only reason we are not winning all our games. We must be alert and maintain our defensive shape and commitment even in possession.
And finally, I will like to end this piece with Theo Walcott. I bet all Gunners are loving him now, right? Isn’t it funny how the guy without a ‘football brain’ has been our most consistent offensive player so far? I am so happy that the run he has been given upfront has aided his development, like some of us suspected, and we are playing our best football with him leading the line. So enjoy the Man United win folks. That was first class. Peace.
Lagos – Nigeria