What Do Gunners Want? by AI
Let’s think about this carefully. Arsenal were in disarray under Emery. Before that, Wenger’s football was starting to be found out. His version of possession play was not as compact and defensively dominant as Klopp’s and Pep’s scheme. He encouraged natural dynamics, flying fullbacks, little proper defensive cover and little serious pressing. Top teams in Europe regularly smacked us heavily. We had little hope against the Bayerns, Barcelonas, Real Madrids, Liverpools, and Man Citys of this world. As a result, we had little hope for a trophy. We needed to change, find a modern coach who could coach a more modern version of possession play.
After some research, we chose Mikel Arteta. He was considered quite capable of coaching modern possession play, so much so that Pep Guardiola, a famous control freak, left some games under his hands.
People say that these modern coaches do not encourage natural dynamics like the traditional coaches like Wenger, Ferguson and Mourinho, but that is the point. Ferguson and Mourinho always had 2 or 3 workhorses in midfield, players who by nature are defensive, as well as strict positioning for their defenders. They played with superstar forwards who could do whatever they wanted. That was how they were able to maintain their defenses. Strictness and workhorses. They only gave freedom to the star players. Wenger gave freedom to everyone. Our fullbacks always went forward. We played with offensively minded players everywhere. We lacked discipline and defensive cover. But we had plenty of freedom going forward.
Is this what fans want right now?
Or do we want the modern version of it?
Or is counterattacking football we want?
The modern version of possession play is defensively minded. People don’t know it but Pep Guardiola holds the most defensive records for most of the competitions he has played. How does he do it? It is not just by buying expensive defenders. It is by the careful positioning of his players and scripting his attacks to go a certain manner. Welcome to the theory of positional play or, in Spanish, juego de posicion.
In positional play, you do not encourage natural dynamics between players because you want the game to be predictable. Your players will always know what to do in every moment, especially when they lose the ball. This predictability in your players’ positioning and patterns of play ensures defensive cover for your team. If one thing goes wrong in your carefully scripted pattern of play, everything can be undone. Sounds familiar?
Therefore juego de posicion teams have to be full of players who are extremely capable of executing actions as well as quick learners. If a juego de posicion manager arrives in a team that is not used to scripted football, there must be a quick turn over of the players, with plenty of new blood coming in. Mikel Arteta has only gotten 3 new starters over two major windows. The rest have been squad fillers and rotation players.
When does a juego de posicion team start playing fluid football, you ask?
When those patterns become second-nature to the players, especially in terms of execution. When every player does his job almost without thinking. The result is devastatingly beautiful and effective.
But when you still have players who cannot confidently execute a dribble or a pass or hold the ball, the pattern that’s supposed to move at 100KM/H slows down to 20KM/H which makes it easy to defend or even breaks down completely.
Klopp is also a positional play manager. If you have noticed, Liverpool almost only attack via crosses and passes from the flanks into the box. All of their midfielders are strictly positioned. Even their striker is defensively oriented. But they play predictable football at breakneck speed and press like mad men. This causes too much chaos for the opposition to handle, who eventually make mistakes and concede. You will also notice that they have signed plenty of very good players who can do almost anything in order to play this football.
Mikel Arteta’s tricky reds have only signed 3 major good players. One is Thomas Partey who is constantly injured. One is Ben White who just came into the side. One is Gabriel Maghalaes. No forwards or attacking midfielders. No wonder why we can’t play faster.
Fans must know what they want. Do you want a modern version of Wenger possession play? Then endure this. Back Arteta and ask for more signings. We have signed only 3 major players across two (2!) major windows and none of the 3 players are forwards or attacking midfielders. Klopp got Salah, Robertson, Shaqiri in one window. Before that he got Wjnaldum and Mane. Two major windows. 5 major players. 3 of them offensively minded.
All the talk about Conte betrays what Arsenal fans say they stand for. If we just want to win by any means, then we are no different from Tottenham and Chelsea. We are Arsenal. We are the Arsene Wenger club. We win by attacking. We are only trying to attack now in a more modern manner. It looks difficult now but trust the process. It is the hill to die on. Patience, patience.