Elementary Errors Cast A Shadow Of Doubt On The Forthcoming Campaign

Before the game against Legia Warsaw started I didn’t know what to expect. Within minutes from the start it was clear that this was going to be a tough battle that will expose our weaknesses.

Legia pressed high up the pitch and maintained a high tempo. They also used the channels and the long ball to good effect. This is a strategy that Fulham have successfully employed against us in recent seasons and this team in White looked like a clone of the Hodgson side.

Arsenal had a very weak midfield. Frimpong wasn’t able to keep up with the tempo of the game and Wilshere looked more like a Bolton midfielder than an Arsenal one. I don’t think either kid was really at fault, the simple fact is that neither of them is ready for a midfield starting role. Wilshere is also a kind of player who likes to run with the ball and that takes him out of position quite often. In the system we play, the second midfielder needs phenomenal off the ball movement and quick, sharp short passes. This allows us to maintain possession and keep the rhythm going. With Wilshere in that role we will always struggle when the opposition presses so high up. The youngster is more suited to the advanced midfield role that seems reserved for Cesc or Nasri. Anyway, both Frimpong and Wilshere would have gained a lot from this experience and I don’t really worry about the mistakes they made.

Sadly for us, the inexperienced midfield was exposed further by some awful football by Rosicky and Walcott. Rosicky should have used his experience to control the tempo but he played as if he had Song and Cesc with him on the pitch. Too often he passed the ball to a youngster under pressure or failed to offer himself to receive a pass. To be fair to Walcott, the midfield wasn’t working and we couldn’t use his strengths. He was hardly given the ball with any kind of space to run into and that made his life really difficult.

Considering the fact that four out of the five in midfield were not having a good day it was not a surprise that we conceded three in half an hour or so. Many writers will find it easy to blame the keeper and the defensive partnership but I thought our problems were far more fundamental and systemic and not completely down to individuals.

For instance, see how the first goal went in. The opposition keeper kicked it long and Koscielny got the ball. It bounced off him towards the centre circle. The opposition player took it and was pressurised by Wilshere. The player held on to the ball and ran back all the way to the spot where his left back would have been. Wilshere followed him till there and that left a huge gap behind him. Walcott and Nasri joined Wilshere in pressing the ball but none of them was decisive enough and all three were taken out of the game by one simple turn and pass.

Think about this again. Three of our five midfielders were out wide on the right in a five yard area. Once they were completely out of the game it was easy for a Legia player to receive the ball on the wing. Sagna went with the runner, Frimpong came to cover on the flank and the whole centre was exposed. The scorer Cabral received the ball in the centre circle, ran unopposed up to the edge of our box and smashed it past the keeper. No defender closed him down.

This goal showed why we conceded key goals from counter attacks last year. There were five or six players at fault. I wouldn’t blame them as individuals but I would certainly blame the defensive drills they have been doing. It doesn’t matter whether we call it 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1, if our players don’t get their defensive balance and positioning right we will concede plenty more this season.

The second goal exposed further problems that plagued us all through last season. The opposition winger was able to easily receive the ball and run down the channel almost to the byline. Sagna did a decent job of cutting his cross by conceding a corner. Most teams would have defended it easily. Arsenal could not.

There were six or seven players in front of the goalkeeper. There was no way he was ever going to get the ball. He still went for it and I’m sure it was because he has clear instructions to go for almost every ball. We’ve seen Almunia, Mannone and Fabianski do this far too often to think it’s their decision making that’s flawed. The flaw is with the person who decides how Arsenal will defend set pieces. There is no way the keeper should be forced to go for that ball.

Frimpong wasn’t able to read the flight and head it clear. Chamakh was more interested in grappling with his man even though he has the talent to judge the flight and attack the ball. All of this is down to the training we do. Arsenal are crying out for a top class defensive coach. I’m convinced even if we sign the best keeper in the world the same problems will continue unless the approach to defending changes.

I can do the same analysis for all the goals we conceded in this game. I can also prove these points by a frame by frame analysis as I’ve done in the past. But it’s not the fans who need to understand this, it’s the people in charge of defence who need to get it. For each goal we conceded there were three of four elementary mistakes and we will lose some crucial points during the season because of similar mistakes.

I’m also worried about our midfield. With the injury to Ramsey we have been short and unless Song, Diaby, Denilson, and Cesc return soon and hit the ground running, we could surrender the title challenge within the early months. I hope Nasri doesn’t come back crocked from his meaningless friendly for the national team. Given our luck with injuries that seems quite likely!

I was really frustrated by this game but there were a few positives as well. Nasri obviously was brilliant. Chamakh had a very good game and the goal he scored is the kind that will help us against stubborn defences. Vela too had a decent outing as he picked up three assists. More than any of this I was happy with Wenger’s flexibility. It seemed to me that we changed the system in the second half.

Nasri dropped deeper and we got better cover on the wings in the form of Gibbs and Eboue. Vela was playing more like a second striker. It was a fluid system but looked more like a 4-4-2 or a 4-4-1-1. It wasn’t surprising that we controlled the tempo in the second half and scored half a dozen goals. It just highlighted the fact that all our problems started with a weak midfield that couldn’t handle the tempo and pressure.

At the end of the day, this wasn’t the way to go into the first game of the season; especially one away at Anfield against a manager who knows how to play against Arsenal. The positive side is that not many teams are going to win at Anfield so we are not in a must win situation. But a poor result in the first game will affect the confidence in the squad and the mood of the supporters.

Arsene has his work cut out and he has to come up with some answers in the next week. It won’t be easy but he’s done it before.


42 Responses to Elementary Errors Cast A Shadow Of Doubt On The Forthcoming Campaign

  1. Kevin says:

    Excellent post. Never really thought about it, but now that you mention it, something’s gotta give with the defensive department over at Arsenal. Still, we need a decent keeper and centre half. If its true that wenger made a £23 mil bid for Reina, i think he should use that to get Hart and mertesacher!

    • desigunner says:

      Thanks. Normally, i do try and analyze most issues in detail.

      I seriously doubt the Reina bid but we should surely use the money for a couple of additions. Only problem is transfer market is complicated and most people are unwilling to sell or want exorbitant value. I’m sure Wenger is trying his best and hopefully he will be a little less frugal this time.

  2. walter says:

    Last year we lost our final practice game. This time we showed character and determination when 3-0 down.
    I also think the goals were mainly the fault of to much players running out of position at the same time. These things happen when you play a few 18 years old with not a lot of experience.
    I think this is a game where the team can learn a lot from during next week. I’m sure Wenger will point the (joint) mistakes out.
    On the other hand, how many teams are going to score 6 goals at Legia Warsaw?

    • desigunner says:

      Walter I agree with your optimistic view. The only reason I was a bit irked was because these were not one off issues and wasn’t limited to playing youngsters. We’ve seen similar problems even when we have Song and others in the team. Of course, this doesn’t happen in every game otherwise we would be relegated. It’s rare but we need to eliminate it completely.

  3. Zgunner says:

    Despite the technical mistakes…. Arsenal didn’t shut down when they were down 3-0… We’ve seen our team give up in these situations so many times before…

    Another thing… Call the game a friendly if you like… Warsaw played like it was the Champions League final… The opening of a new stadium is an important game morally… overall, Fabianski is not ready, but I’m glad we came back to win.. there is good fight and winning mentality in our squad.

    • desigunner says:

      Yes the game was really competitive and that was good in a way as it gave us the feel of what is to come next week.

      I didn’t really want to focus on the result in this article so I left out the coming from behind part. It was certainly commendable that the team showed the right mentality and worked hard to get a win.

  4. clive says:

    Re: the attacking midfield – although Wilshere and Nasri have both shone in an attacking midfield/behind the striker(s) position in pre-season we have to give Cesc that role as he seems most effective there and presumably prefers it, and anything we can do to make him happy, we must, surely. I would like to see a more positionally disciplined midfielder to accompany Song in the midfield, possibly Ramsey (obviously injured tho) or a new signing to accompany and/or deputise for Song – as it would be a big ask for Frimpong or Eastmond to step up to a regular first team place so soon.

    • desigunner says:

      Even I’d like to see Cesc in that role whenever he is fit. Nasri could play the link role in midfield, Denilson also does a decent job in some games.

      Frimpong/Eastmond will be used only if we have 3-4 injuries in midfield positions. I hope that won’t be a common theme this season although the start doesn’t look good.

      IMO A new signing who can play CB and a defensive midfield role would be ideal addition to the squad.

  5. Phil23 says:

    Yes… there was nothing wrong with that performance eh Walter! Lets be blindly positive and pretend that the problems don’t exist! The goals are the same problems as usual which points out to weaknesses we must try to fix or we will fail in the same way we normally do and just miss out again. The problem with the couple of 18 year olds is that they have a big chance of starting against Liverpool. Diaby and Denilson have niggling injuries as usual, Frimpong is Songs back up and it is widely speculated he will start against Liverpool if Song isn’t ready. If Song isn’t ready and gets rushed in we will pay for it later in the season as we always do. We needed a second defensive midfielder this year and Vertonghen was the answer. Desi, when you explained the first goal you pretty much explained my argument on why we need two defensive midfielders. In fact, that is the first argument I ever made on this website. Sorry about the Walter thing but I have no time for his website who completely ignore any posts that aren’t completely one eyed and I personally found it offensive to the point where their website is one of two (them and Le Grove) that I rarely read because of blind one sidedness. The sad thing is that I see myself as a positive Arsenal supporter who rarely puts down players and will always get behind the team yet I was ignored over and over again on Untold Arsenal for not putting my view in a 100% biased way. That is why I and many other readers of this blog thank you for being a realistic blogger and just because you can see faults when they occur it doesn’t mean you or I are any less of a fan than someone who refuses to acknowledge the faults we have. The thing that annoys me the most is that both Tony and Walter are knowledgeable about football and therefore see the faults just as any of the rest of us but they refuse to acknowledge them just to look like they are the perfect supporters or something? Sorry for my rant and I don’t expect you to back me up as Walter is a highly regarded person who I personally still have high regards for but will always lose respect for him until he starts to blog rationally.

    • desigunner says:

      Phil, I’m guessing you were in a bad mood (can’t blame you after that defensive performance) when you wrote that.

      I would say Untold are doing a very good job. Even if they are extremely optimistic and positive they don’t take away your right to oppose their view. They also touch upon subjects that are not dealt with by most others.

      I also feel that there is so much negativity regarding Arsenal in the blogosphere that one purely positive blog is the least we need.

      Anyway it’s not my job or place to defend the good work of Tony, Walter and their team and neither to tell you what to think or what to read. I just shared my opinion on the issue you raised.

      • Phil23 says:

        Read me like a book! Was in a terrible mood actually. My apologies to most statements I said. I will say one thing though, Blond optimism is what turn the doubters into Blind doubters. Its like a law of nature or something stupid like that. I also agree that Untold (and Making) come up with some very thoughtful and different pieces. A tiny tiny little dose of recognition of our mistakes would go a long long way though. Once again, my apologies Walter.

  6. Phil23 says:

    Anyway, other than my angry rant, as usual my problem was not so much the defense and goal keeper (although they were not very inspiring) but that Central midfield role and obviously we missed Song a bit. I think Denilson will either make or break this season and in leaning towards the former. Lets hope him and Diaby create some great competition for each other as Wenger has stated: no more midfield signings. The best we can hope for is an experienced defender who would do wonders for our team. It looks to me like Vermaelen needs that experienced partner for another year at least because as I’ve stated before, theres too much pressure on him. I still also think that the main thing we miss from our goal keepers is direction and confidence (inspire confidence and organisation in the back line). Lets see who Wenger signs. Most likely a Center back but how good will he be? 33 year old back up or 30 year old starter? We will see! Exciting! Bring on Liverpool.

    • Ash says:

      Phil 23 you make a good argument but I must admit one thing you menion which I think there is a problem with is both Diaby an Denilson, mainly because in the present formation neither have the discipline to stay in position. Too often they either track runners into wide areas leaving cenral zone exposed with only Song covering against 2 midefielders or they don’t track at all (remember Denilson completely losing Rooney for 2nd goal at Emirates last year?). Wenger will buy a central defender but i have a strong feeling it will be a cover defender and that Koscielny wil start. This will cost us many points as he will make mistakes in his 1st year. But more than anything we need a keeper who can command the defence. Our present batch are excellent shot stoppers but I would rather a keeper who makes very few mistakes and can deal with crosses as that has always been our achilles heel. Scwarzer would have been ideal.

      • Phil23 says:

        Yeah I agree that was definitely both Diaby and Denilsons weaknesses last year but they must surely know that and will hopefully have been working on it in the summer. Sadly thanks to the world cup we didn’t get to see their progress in pre season so thats why I haven’t judged them just yet! Denilson definitely needs the competition though as that non tracking against United pretty much cost him the support of a good chunk of Arsenal fans. With the keeper situation I completely agree. I would sacrifice 5 magnificent goals that our stoppers would have stopped for 10-15 saved by having an organised defense and stronger set pieces thanks to a new keeper.

      • desigunner says:

        I think one of the central midfielders will always have to go wide because our wide attackers don’t often track back. It’s difficult to blame the midfielders for that.

        In fact, I feel they don’t it often enough and that’s what leaves a lot of space down our wings.

        I guess it’s more an issue of synchronization and understanding rather than an individual error.

        I would also say we get it right more often than we get it wrong. We can’t be all that bad if we can finish third in the Premiership.

    • desigunner says:

      I think when we play Denilson or Diaby, both of them generally try to maintain the discipline and play like a second DM. It’s not a physical DM role like Van Bommel or De Jong did for that boring Holland team but more like what Alonso did for Spain.

      In this particular game and towards the end of last season we had too many first team players missing. After that it’s very difficult to get everything right.

      We could certainly use an experienced CB. In fact, I’d have loved having Campbell around. There are not many of his talent and stature around. Anyone who comes from a different league will need time to adapt and the experience won’t be fully relevant. If we get someone from the Premiership then it would have to be someone like Cahill who might not have the experience of playing in big Champions League games. What we need is fairly obvious but the choices are really limited. Seriously, how many 30 year old starting CB’s with Champions League experience are available?

  7. Phil23 says:

    Oh and what do people think about Wengers recent statements about management?
    “I am at a stage where if I extend my contract it means I will finish my career at club level at Arsenal. If I go for a different challenge – I have been offered many challenges you know – it has to be now.”
    “That’s a decision I have to make. But basically, I have no desire to change from here. I have one more year, and we are maybe thinking about extending it.”

    “I cannot see that my enthusiasm will drop, but I am not necessarily the same resistance physically as Alex Ferguson. At 65 I will certainly move to some different job, unless I still feel like I feel today.”

    Can anyone imagine what it would be like if when he turned 65, the board convinced Wenger to stay on in a lesser role. For instance, have him as an attacking/youth coach but then have a new youthful manager with new ideas. That would literally be the perfect situation possible for Arsenal, Wenger being able to focus more on the youth and coaching side that he is so gifted at, while giving the rest of the duties to someone else who will also learn from Wenger as well as being able to influence their own style.. What a vision! Sure it probably wont happen but come on, Arsene loves this club and wants it to work long term not just while hes here, thats what its all been about for him, leaving his legacy, who said he wouldn’t want to teach another manager the ropes? Lyons Claude Puel anyone? Oh the possibilities…

    • desigunner says:

      I’m excited by the possibilities for the future but I want to keep the focus limited to the present. Right now we are at a stage where we could go back to the glory days or slide downwards. Arsene could have an incredible legacy or it might get tainted. This season will make a big difference one way or the other. I think that will also have an impact on whether he signs a new contract or not. Once we get a good year, the possibilities will be truly uplifting.

  8. sameep says:

    The problem at defending the corners and set pieces is indeed as you mentioned due to the training method. If we see good teams (at defending set pieces) like Manu, Aston Villa we can observe a very interesting point that there are two or three people who clear the header perfectly almost all the times. It is Vidic, Ferdinand, Carrick for Manu who we see always clearing the ball. The way they do it, it seems they have desire to attack the ball as if they are going to score and they don’t want anyone to reach to the ball apart from them.

    this kind of desire to touch the ball first is not at all there in our defending (set pieces). There are two players in Arsenal side I have seen defending the set pieces with that kind of desire and those are Djourou and Bendtner. We, now, have players like Verminator, Koschielny, Chamakh, Song, Bendy, Diaby who are good headers of the ball. If we try to train them little differently, I think w could see similar trends in defending the set pieces like Manu and Villa. These players could solve our problem of defending the set pieces. because if a team has 3-4 players on the pitch who are good headers and they are defending area of few square meters, the ball is bound to go near one of them and if that one attacks it as if he wants to score, they could be able to clear it.

    • desigunner says:

      Exactly. The other teams have players who can deal with balls into the box and the keeper doesn’t have to do it that often.

      I saw the second half of the community shield today. Neither keeper had to consistently punch the ball. In fact, Hilario didn’t do it even once in the half. Van der Saar made one catch (no one within two yards of him) and flapped at one. Cole missed a good chance that came from that flap. Van der Saar also palmed the ball straight back and that led to the Chelsea goal.

      And this is not new, it happens all the time. The way United defend makes VdS look much better than he is. Our players have to do much better in helping the keeper. It’s a shame some people don’t look at the details.

  9. just me says:

    Brilliant article mate. You have pointed out the one issue that is rarely addressed in most of the web posts I read daily. Too much blame is placed on the players and no one ever thinks of the people who are responsible for coaching them on tactics and positioning. For a team like ours were we are lacking in the height physical strength departments as well as in holding midfielders who are extremely adept at reading the game or have have real presence on the pitch, the entire midfield unit need to work that much harder to maintain our defensive edge.
    That comes from pure tactical and positional awareness. Something as fundametal as that will make us far more efficient and less error prone defensively.

    I personally think we have too many utilty players and not enough specialised. I dont feel we need another player who can play holding and CB, what we need are two players who only play in those specific positions. When a player is made to play in more than one position they may decent in both roles and would “appreciate the game” from another position but i they tend not be exceptional enough in either. This is not to say it cannit be done, but what it does mean is that the players developement will be slower and would require that much more experience. What im saying is basically they would lack tactical and positional awareness ealry on in their career that both these posiontions require and the like of Song are still relatively early on in the experience department which exactly what we are and have been missing at Arsenal. We need at least two specialised defensive minded players one holding and one CB. I definately agree that somthing must be done about the coaching at Arsenal, something is missing and we need it… SHARPISH.

    • desigunner says:

      There is a good argument for the use of specialized players. Given that we have so many versatile players already we could use one or two specialists. It boils down to availability and the kind of budget needed to get two top class players v one top class versatile player.

      I’m not sure many top class specialists are available. For instance, Matthew Upson is a specialist but I wouldn’t say he is much better than say a Kompany who would be a versatile player.

      If Wenger can find the specialists (like he did with Koscielny) then there it would be the right thing to do.

  10. SomeRandomGunner says:

    Our problem is more than just players. It is the whole system, either our defensive strategy is wrong or our players simply do not understand how to do it. I kind of accept the tactics is right because we got 2 goals directly from the result of winning the ball in the 3rd quarter of the pitch. I think the players do not know how to react when their pressing / tackle fails and others fail to cover. The biggest problem for Arsenal is the last goal , since we were not attacking we wanted to sit behind and defend and there were 2 banks of four but some simple balls in the air we were broken. Our midfielders and defenders were all looking at the one with the ball, suddenly a runner from the center went past 3-4 arsenal players and scores. That defensive awareness from the midfielders is what we are missing.

    I would like our second half team in Anfield. Packing the field with fullbacks :). But both of them were not anything less in attack. We are very very short on numbers. Fingers crossed on our injuries.

    • desigunner says:

      Your observations are quite pertinent. Our tactics of pressing high up are absolutely necessary for the kind of game we want to play.

      I’d say we do a good job of it by and large. That’s the reason we won more than 20 games last season in the league and were third. Sometimes we lose it and end up conceding 3 or 4 goals and we need to eliminate that.

      If we look at their first goal. Once Wilshere went that far forward there were many ways to maintain the balance.

      Walcott could have stayed behind. That way he would have covered the flank and Frimpong could have stayed central.

      Rosicky could have come to cover the centre. A CB could have moved up a little (if you note they didn’t have any attackers making a run when Cabral shot… both CB’s were marking no one). Nasri could have dropped back to cover.

      Normally one of these things happens and the game goes on. In some games we lose the plot defensively. Normally it’s when too many first team players are missing or when we are over enthusiastic about attacking, especially against bigger teams.

      Finally, it’s about balance. We have to attack and be true to our style but we also have to defend. It’s a fine line and works only when the whole team is synchronized.

  11. just me says:

    Injuries, injuries and more injuries. When ever that whole issue comes up it just highlights the one glaring fact we all have to face up to as Arsenal fans, our club has no strength in depth. Injuries are part and parcel of any premier league season, especially for us, and we are always sweating over injuries quite simply because we, unlike chelsea, united and, dare i say it, the SCUM dont have strength in depth in key positions up the middle of the pitch and it has been our undoing in the last five seasons. And if we fail to add some strength to our defensive game especially then unfortunatly we’re going to be teetering on the edge of being one injury away from being a mediocre team struggling to hang on Chelsea, united and Citeh’s coat tails.

    As a gooner Im nervous and our captain doesnt inspire me any longer after this summer. He seems to fail to realise that if he goes Barcelona he’ll only be there provide Iniesta and Xavi some respite from working too hard. We get it Cesc, you love barca and we respect you professional approach to it but you have commitments and you’re still very young, if barca really wanted that badly they would have triggered the clause on your contract, but they want you on the cheap because they dont really rate you. He seems to think he is competition for Iniesta, which he isnt, and the World cup should have served as a wake up call.

    Against Liverpool I hope we’ll be a bit more tactially aware of the glaring space in behind the opposition should they decide to press us high up the pitch, enter Walcott with a double and an assist. Cant wait.

    • SomeRandomGunner says:

      I hate this Arsenal lack depth. What if Chelsea now have injuries to Essien , Mikel, Ramires , who would they have. We have depth, and we have more injuries with 25 players i dont think we can have more depth. We are better with young players coming through. We need to find out why Arsenal get so many injuries . It is impossible to have depth for so many injuries.

    • desigunner says:

      I agree with SRG here. Saying everyone has injuries is somewhat generalized and not fact based.

      We played without RvP for large parts last season. We even had RvP and Bendtner missing for 3 months. Can United deal with Rooney and Berbatov missing for three months or Chelsea without Drogba and Anelka?

      Similarly towards the end we had 7-8 first team players missing. United had a similar situation with their defence for a short period and ended up getting spanked at Fulham.

      Overall, I think we have much more depth but we have a lot more injuries as well. Beyond a point it’s tricky. Just how many back up players can you have?

      One aspect where the other teams are better is that they adapt their game and defend better when key attacking players are missing. Something we don’t do that well.

  12. santori says:

    You are spot on Desi.

    We need a specialist defense coach. Whilst we’re at it we should get a specialist attack coach too to help sharpen our finish.

    We should also replace Pat Rice.

    Pressing early when the ball is turned over is one thing but no amount of additions will help us if we don’t learn to manage space properly.

  13. Paul says:

    We have so many attacking midfielders flittering about that surely we must get some goals, yep the opposition did score.

    Warsaw is easily on a par with a prem side, preparations are looking fabulous, we are good to go, no need for any reinforcements as the whole package is in place.

    Desi, what you on about mate, this team is almost there, we can win the league and the cl, we just need a bit of luck with injuries.

    Fabianski is the new Vieira!!

  14. Gunner Young says:

    Like the technical article. Just like to add that our new 4-3-3 was introduced last season and Wilshere/Frimpong as well as being inexperianced, are more use to 4-4-2 and needs time to adapt in a competitive environment. Yesterday was damn competitive!

    I think the problem we have is an inbalance to the whole team. In a 4-4-2, we do not have out and out wingers, who has the pace, trickery and crossing abilities. Both Vela and Arshavin are strikers, Walcott can’t cross, nor has any tricks.
    In a 4-3-3 we have the same problems on the wing (with also the added problem of Arshavin sometimes going awol in his tracking back)and added problems in the middle, as there are too many attacking midfielders and not enough defensive ones.

    I would actually prefer Cesc and Diaby swapping roles. I think Diaby’s, carrying of the ball, excellent shooting, finishing, headers and lack of defensive duties would suit him. I think Cesc, with his workrate, exceptional technique and creativity would be ideal in the central midfield role. Almost like a quarterback. Song has done really well as a DM, but in that role I feel against top class teams, his lack of mobility is a problem. It is no coincidence that the finest DMs are short and swat e.g Deschamp, Makele, Masherano etc. The short burst of pace, along with high endurance is essential in that role. Frimpong is not ready, we still need a DM, CB and GK.

    • desigunner says:

      Over the last season or two even the juniors have played the same system. So I’m not sure if it’s completely new to Frimpong and Wilshere. Playing against fitter and faster opponents than the youth teams would certainly be new and that is difficult no matter what the system.

      As you said it was a very competitive game and the kids are, after all, just kids and not experienced pros. Can’t really blame them for what happened yesterday but they will have to learn from that experience.

      A number of people have mentioned Cesc in a deeper role. I think even Guardiola had that in mind if he’d have gone to Barca. He can certainly do a good job there.

      I prefer Cesc up front because his vision, speed of thought, and technique are unparalleled. In a crowded space those skills are invaluable.

  15. John says:

    This is a truly excellent analysis. You ever thought of becoming a professional football writer?

    • desigunner says:

      I’d like to 😀 but I’ve no clue how to go about that 😦 I know how to be a management consultant or an investment banker but no idea how the journalism field works. Would greatly appreciate if you can share some insights.

  16. Alibaba says:

    Who is our specialist defensive coach, anyone know?

    • Gunner Young says:

      I would assume it would be Boro Primac, as he was an international center back in his day.

    • Alibaba says:

      He’s listed on Arsenal.com as fist team coach. There’s no mention of a specific defensive coach, and in fact there seems to be a lack of coaches in general. We have a kitmanager and assistant kit manager though so that’s sorted at least.

    • desigunner says:

      I guess Primorac and Rice were both defenders in their time so they must be taking charge of the defensive training. Overall, I’d think Arsene would be the one who decides what needs to be done and these guys would help execute the plans.

  17. Ketch says:

    Great read, really enjoyed that.

  18. MSL says:

    You point out a lot of things quite well. We lose shape very often and which is why Song has become so indispensable. I guess if Song is down, we look like headless chickens. Denilson is good technically but we need someone who can anchor there. Diaby is more of a runner than a DM. The only solution is to have your CHs maintain position. The number of times I groaned when Kos and Vermaelen had no idea where the other guy was. Drills, drills and more drills. Find out what Jose Mourinho is doing right. Inter’s defensive line could have won synchronized swimming contest.

  19. […] Elementary Errors Cast A Shadow Of Doubt On The Forthcoming Campaign Before the game against Legia Warsaw started I didn’t know what to expect. Within minutes from the start it was clear […] […]

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