Fourth place or genuine progress come May 2022? What exactly should our focus be? By Fire
Arsenal’s fourth-place position in the Premier League at Christmas is a surprise to everyone, including fans and commentators on both sides of the Arteta divide. The question now is where will they be at the conclusion of the league season in May 2022, when the final decision will be made. This is a legitimate question that, for the time being, appears to have muted the “Arteta out or in!!!” chant, or, to put it another way, appears to have just delayed the chant until May 2022.
Many people would assess Arteta’s performance and Arsenal’s advancement based on the league table, which is said to never lie. While this is accurate in a mechanical sense (by which I mean interpreting like a machine rather than a human being), there are other nuances to consider, which this article seeks to explore.
If we keep looking only at the league table, we limit our analytical abilities to the level of a machine learning algorithm, that only looks at how teams have done in the past to try to predict how they will do now or in the future. We can never expect Arsenal to come fourth if we adopt this strategy, which will only just serve to substantiate the current “negative-feeling” still entertained by a division of the fan base.
Instead of relying simply on the league table, may we take some time to consider other aspects of football’s fundamentals that often influence how well a team performs in relation to the league table? These considerations include, but are not limited to, the following: passing, positional knowledge (keeper beginning positions, defense lines, and sustaining formations), shutting down opponents/aggression (pressing, pouncing), fitness levels (running capacity, sustaining pressure), and attitude are all important components of soccer (dedication to work, discipline, commitment, belief, confidence). While I do not claim to have mentioned them all, the question is whether we can begin to evaluate the Arsenal team on the basis of these characteristics instead. Most likely, these characteristics will allow us to better estimate the direction in which the team is travelling and where they may finish by May 2022.
While I do not wish to impose my opinions on you; rather, I aim only to establish a narrative or dimension upon which we may begin to base our talks, in order to fairly evaluate and support our cherished team.
In my opinion, the Arsenal team has significantly improved in their ability to control the ball and pass accurately, which has translated into our ability to resist the press and play out more confidently from the back in recent weeks. Because our opponents are aware of this, many of them refrain from pressing us and instead retreat to low blocks. However, with significant gains in positioning knowledge, fitness levels, and attitude, we are now able to crush the low block with greater accuracy and timing, leading to an achievement of even more goals in this area.
When we lose the ball, our fitness levels come into play, as it allows us to press aggressively, hunt in packs, and retrieve the ball as quickly as possible once we lose it. Finally, these tangible outcomes (i.e. winning ratios) have influenced their mentality, resulting in a stronger belief in their own abilities as well as a developing sense of confidence and discipline as a result of their efforts. These factors merely explain what the best teams in the world possess, and there is no doubt that the Arsenal team is amassing these factors, which is resulting in a better position in the league table.
Can they maintain their current position in the league standings and finish fourth or higher at the end of the current season? The answer is yes, simply because it is no longer just knowledge of what to do, but also an understanding of how to do it, which lasts longer and only serves to instill confidence and more competence in the individual/team.
Has Arteta performed adequately? Yes! And should the fans extend him even more time and patience than they already have? Yes! Why? We do this because, while some of these factors can be taught, others are not and, notably in the case of attitude, cannot. People with the incorrect mentality can only be replaced, as he has done so in the last two years, despite it being an extremely tough process to carry out in the first place. Will there be a need for personnel replacement in the future? Yes! As a result, patience and perseverance are required.
Will the journey be fraught with hiccups? Yes! How do we use our time then? It’s as simple as figuring out whether or not the fundamentals were flawed and whether or not the team’s attitude was problematic, and if so, demand improvement; if not, we simply continue to support our beloved team. In the end, whether or not we come in fourth should not be the basis for our criticism; rather, how well we are progressing in terms of these other, more fundamental criteria should be the focus of our attention. And if we are making genuine strides forward, then fourth place or above is simply a byproduct!
Consequently, I hope that this piece contributes to the development of a new strategy to analyzing, debating, and anticipating where and how Arsenal will end this season, as well as whether additional time should be given to the coach and team.
Remain blessed and positive always!
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