The case of Baltimore Ravens and similarity with Arsenal’s current playing Situation by Beast Mode
Being American, I watch a lot of American football and sometimes I like comparing aspects of different sports.
When watching Baltimore Ravens of NFL, it reminds me of the playing pattern of Arteta’s Arsenal. Baltimore drafted Lamar Jackson as a quarterback 3 years ago, but didn’t start despite being 32nd overall pick. Eventually he became a starter after the 1st season and his inclusion turned the offense from average to one of the best in his first season.
Jackson is an unorthodox kind of Quarterback who doesn’t excel in the most basic attributes of what is required of his position. He is not a good passer of the ball and not accurate for a deep ball thrower, but he has the build of a running back. He is elusive, and as fast as any other running back in the league, and Baltimore incorporated that in their game plan. They didn’t force him to be what he wasn’t, and actually built the team around his other abilities.
So, the first season he tore up the defense and the opponents couldn’t figure out how to stop him. Normally, defense is more worried about the quarterback passing ability, but now you have a guy who will run around with the ball and is hard to tackle. It’s like playing 12 vs 11. It wasn’t pretty style but it did work. Jackson was eventually voted the MVP of that season.
They then meet the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs. The Titans had a different plan that turned out to be the blueprint to beat Jackson and co. Their defense jammed the running lane and made Jackson to beat them with his arm, and not with his legs. They took away his strength and made him a pocket passer-which was his weakness. Another weakness that was exposed during that game was that Baltimore cannot beat teams from behind as their playing style doesn’t allow them to score fast. Normally, passing QBs can change the score with only a few plays, but Baltimore is a running team that consumes a lot of time to score. Jackson’s Baltimore now won only one out of ten games they were behind at half time.
Now the similarities with Arsenal. When Arteta took over (or toward the end of UE tenure), Auba was shifted to the left and the attack went through the left side of the field. MA overloaded the left side with a combination of AMN/Saka/KT and Auba, and this tactic created space for Auba to run into. In some games, AMN overlaps and occupies and pulls away the opponent CB, thereby creating space for Auba. MA was able to get the best out of Auba with this tactic. But just like Baltimore being found out by opponents, Arsenal was figured out too. The other teams have figured out this tactic and nullified that side completely.
The 2nd similarity is that, just like Baltimore being forced to rely on their weakness, Arsenal too is now forced to rely on their weakness- THE PASSING. Other teams are allowing Arsenal’s CB to have the ball as much as they want, and daring them to beat them with the passing. Our midfield is garbage, and cannot pass the ball to save their lives. We don’t have players with quick interchanging passing abilities, and now most of the forward passes are from the CB’s, and is much easier to defend by the opponents.
The other comparison is that Arsenal is not a high scoring team, and can’t come from behind. I don’t have the stats, but I heard from the commentators during the Arsenal vs Wolves game that we have lost all the EPL games that we were behind at half time. Our playing style doesn’t allow us to score in quick succession.
Anyway, the moral of the story is that Arsenal needs to be more dynamic in the attack than relying on only a few tactics or players. During Wenger’s tenure, we had midfielders and wingers who chip in with goals, but now everything is on the strikers. Giroud wasn’t a goal machine, but because of the goals from others we were able to score a lot of goals.
How can we do that?