Arsenal v Man Utd thoughts by TJ
I watched the game three times. The first live, and then two more times to take a look at our shape, tactics and work rate. I am sure many of you watched it many more times than I did!
Clearly a superb effort by the boys and a very focused effort – albeit with a few lapses which is understandable. But my biggest take out from the game…we are still 20-25% off playing our best. I’m not talking about missing personnel. I am talking about the collective understanding on the pitch.
But first to the actual performance. Three sublime goals. One with superb teamwork and a quality finish. One was about fast counter-attacking and great vision, and one with vision and individual magic. Defensively we were good with a couple of moments..but we dealt with them.
What could have been? 6 or 7 to nil realistically if were on song. So there is good upside from here. Today seemed to me a day where quite a number of players decided they were going to make a mark on the season. Everyone turned up to play their A-Game. We just need this each game.
1. Ozil increased his tempo and play-speed to match the team! He played to match the speed of the movement instead of slowing it down. More decisive. This was crucial and I believe he’s finally in sync with Cazorla, Ramsey, Sanchez and Walcott (and the wing-backs).
2. Cazorla is still evolving his ‘Pirlo” role and creating new moves (seeing new spaces, using a different less predictable movement, which the others aren’t in sync with yet. This is a good thing but I guess it will take a while for the others to gel with and we can expect some mis-placed passes.
3. We have 4 No. 10’s who are beginning to start inter-changing through game. Ramsey, Carzola, Sanchez, Ozil. Ok – when that finally clicks..good luck defending against that!
4. Hector is maturing very, very fast….it’s frankly scary how quickly he’s learning and adapting. Monreal – I think you’ve all said it already. But here’s the thing…they balance the speed of the midfield attack. It’s the team speed which is important and not just having 1 or 2 speedsters. Man Utd have a much lower “team speed” because they have too many key dependent players who don’t match the speed of the others.
5. Per was good today but it also highlighted the fact that he can’t man-mark – a quick, nimble player will always turn him. He’s fantastic at reading the play and guarding the dangerous spaces and he uses his anticipation to make up for his lack of mobility and speed…and here’s the but…if the attacker sits on him, he will get away. The flip-side is this…we are a short side and we need height in this team. Add to this his leadership qualities. It’s not an easy decision just to say play Gab and Kos.
6. Ramsey worked his nuts off today and this is what he needs to keep doing. Should have finished off his chance but such is this game.
7. Coquelin again proved why he is such an important player. I thought his distribution today was excellent and his decision-making and focus was brilliant. I do think the natural change up for Coquelin when he’s out…is Ramsey and not Arteta. And then play either Jack or Ox out on the right. I think Bellerin is maturing enough to understand when not to over-commit through the flank when he doesn’t have the defensive cover someone like Ramsey gives him – Ox is still suspect in tracking back to help cover his RB. And why not Arteta…well it comes back to team tempo and speed. To my mind, he doesn’t have the higher 3-4 gears. Too often he slows down the play when we need to counter-attack. Quick recycling is key when we win the ball in our third of the pitch.
I wasn’t going to do a player by player analysis but I just wanted to highlight where I see the development and changes and the opportunities for the team. It’s still not a finished product. We still have our challenges but this is something we can build on for the remaining 30 EPL games and we will be there and thereabouts.
Very encouraging signs…COYG!