I’m starting to feel old ……. by Dan Smith
When I was growing up a goalkeeper was judged on purely what they did with their hands, if their out ball happened to be good then that was a bonus. If that’s how I feel then spare a thought for Petr Cech, a man judged most of his career as the beast in his role now being judged every game on what he can/cannot do with the ball at his feet. It might make him speed up his decision of when to retire.
In 4 games so far this season, more has been mentioned about how the veteran is making mistakes when kicking the ball out, the decent saves he’s made in the same matches an afterthought. This is not a problem exclusive to Arsenal. Building attacks from the back seems to be the latest faze, how long it stays is anyone guess.
With the Europa League and Carabao cup due to begin, it’s likely we will see the debut of Leno who is apparently learning off the current captain. Yet the large reason we spent such a fee on the young German was his apparent natural ability with the ball at his feet. In other words he’s the one who who could be teaching the 36 year old a few things.
Emery’s decision to stick with experience could be that he views one better with his hands, the other better with his feet.
For decades the rules used to be that as long as you were keeping the ball out of your net you were earning your money. I said countless times a good manager should not change his principles. Emery has his beliefs in how the game should be played and should not second guess himself no matter opinions of others. He’s inherited a defense already not confident in doing the simple things, asking them to also worry about passing the ball around seems asking too much. It’s not like Stan Kroenke has the ambition to recruit individuals specified in this role. Instead the Spaniard will hope with the right coaching and time he can teach new habits, which is a refreshing approach. But Arsenal’s problem has never been offensive, even in Arsene Wenger’s last few months the issues were not keeping possession or making chances.
I’m yet to see the benefit in insisting our keeper builds from the back, it’s not like it’s dramatically changed our goal/game ratio. I much rather our center backs learn how to do the fundamentals right, then maybe the man behind them will have more confidence.
It’s not just us. We have now seen mistakes in Champions League and World Cup Finals based on men thinking they will be told off if they didn’t show they were comfortable when the ball was passed back to them. How many fans would have wished they smashed into into the stands instead? Just because Pep Guardiola does it does not mean every manager should make it their tactic. It’s like when his Barcelona teams were the best in the universe at pressing and winning back the ball. That became the template everyone tried to replicate before they realized you needed the personel to make that work. Arsenal were already one of the best at keeping the ball and making chances. What we lack is game management and the right mentality. Work on that first.
Cech learning to kick the ball? The juice isn’t worth the squeeze.