You Score When You Don’t Defend

I enjoyed the goal fest that was the Arsenal versus Leicester game last friday. From an entertainment point of view the game delivered, but I didn’t think it was a good game. The wingbacks, despite providing offensive cover, left large stretches of territory unguarded behind them that Leicester exploited. That’s not to say Bellerin and Ox didn’t defend, because I vividly remember Kolasanic running up to mark Mahrez on the left to stop him from advancing with the ball. 

It didn’t stop there as I saw Mahrez being pushed back a few feet in what reminded me of a Greek army pushing through another army. This all occurred within the first fifteen minutes. A few minutes later Kolasanic again ran up to Mahrez on the left in an attempt to win back the ball. It was a great display of a player staying with his market and using his strength to win back territory. I believe one of the Arsenal Player commentators called him a “Neanderthal” which gives connotations that’s he’s all brawn. I get the feeling this isn’t the case. It does show that a center back had to constantly cover his wingback who was higher up the pitch. 

Bellerin on the other hand traded in his defensive responsibilities for more offensive ones. He was ever present on the right touchline providing crosses and another lane for his teammates to use. This allows him to stretch the Leicester defense to open up gaps and capture the attention of other markets that can release his teammates move around in the box. We all know Bellerin is important to the Arsenal attack. His lack of defense at times needs to be covered by a center back or has to pull one of either Xhaka or El Neny to cover the spacing he left behind. This doesn’t mean I think Ox had a bad game. I quite enjoy his drives into the final third with and without the ball. It just would be reassuring if it didn’t come at the expense of defensive responsibility. 

To further discuss the Arsenal defense I have to mention the second goal of the match that Okazaki scored. It continues to highlight how vulnerable Arsenal still are at set pieces. The three center backs were caught looking elsewhere and not one covered the right post where Okazaki ended up heading in. It might just be me but a team with a better defensive shape doesn’t partake in matches ending 4-3. It’s just the start of the season you say. I know. I know. Yet, how many seasons has this been an issue that hasn’t been addressed? The two games against Bayern Munich continue to haunt me. 

Here’s to Arsenal having a better season than the last one and winning another FA Cup. Later. 

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1/3 Of A Trident

Holy shit! Arsenal have signed Lacazette!! 1/3 of my French Trident piece over a week ago is being validated. Maybe I should post more nonsense like that… 🙈

It can’t be worse than Paul The Octopus (R.I.P.) or that one polar bear who supposedly predicts match winners. All bets on people!… Jk, I’ll be putting my money on more French things. Maybe that’ll get us Mbappe and rescue Martial from his oppression at United.

We can only hope 🙌

A French Trident, A French Connection, A French Delight

If rumors and the latest transfer “news” are to be believed Arsenal is going to get a long awaited French attack. This trident of a French connection is composed of one young Mbappe, the middle child Monsieur Martial and the old lad Lacazzette (whose last name I’m rhyming Spanish words with). Maybe it was Arsene Wenger’s plan all along to lead Arsenal with a front three of French goodness. Harnessing the power of baguettes, cheese and wine (maybe not this one) will lead Arsenal to the culinary top. Give the wine to Chelsea, leave the liver to pool and confuse the Manchesters with a varient selection of cheeses. 

Not to worry as Arsenal has the winning cheese. All terrible French inspired jokes and puns aside, that front three is an expensive three. Mbappe is available if you have over €100 million laying around, Lyon just upped the price on Lacazette to €65 million and I assume Martial will also be overpriced. With the cost of this frontline they better have a few Michelin stars among them. 

I’m eagerly awaiting to the morning I wake up and see the club has signed someone. Until then I’ll eat more cheese and have myself a red. 

Later!

FA Cup Winners, not losers (Chelsea)

Arsenal denied Chelsea the pleasure of completing the double. Double the pleasure wasn’t to be for Chelsea, but to say us Arsenal fans had half the pleasure is just wrong. It was a performance that pinged out assurances that the Arsenal machine was going to give its update a run for its money. 

The club should get new players and move on those who aren’t needed. The club should also give those youngsters on the cusp of a first team breakthrough a more relaxed opportunity to play. The club should not use the League Cup to give youngsters minutes. Afterall, it’s another cup English teams have to play for. Can we really be picky about silverware at this stage? The club should break its wage structure to keep Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. Speaking as a fan of the club, all I want to see is a winning effort being made to keep these two. I will not talk ill of Arsenal’s ability to keep world class players if one or both move on, as long as the effort being made uses all the resources allocated to the cause. It has to be less of an Arsenal effort and one more on par with the other top teams in Europe. 

It pains me to say this, but maybe Arsenal should ease the burden on those essential players who always end up getting hurt. Have them compete with other class players for their spot. On that note, I want all of us to take a moment and daydream about Mertesacker blocking the rain for us and intercepting on our behalf to bring the club another dash of sunshine in the form of an FA Cup. 

His performance was truly inspirational. One would not know that he spent over a year on the sidelines based on the cup final performance alone. I also want to give a shout out to Rob Holding for not falling victim to Diego Costa’s shenannigans. It was hilarious to see him smile over the fuss Costa was putting up. He also put in a mature performance that deserves recognition. Cannavaro who? Ramsey should always play finals. It was interesting to see Mezut drop back a line and play as a central midfielder of sorts. 

P.S. Excuse my shitty attempts at being clever!

Arsenal of Feeling 2

Arsenal. One word that brings so much out of me if I even catch a whiff of it blowing in cold winter air or that rainy spring funk right before summer. I want to continue on from my post last Wednesday. Thierry Henry left and Fabregas took up the mantle of being that exciting player we all wanted to see on the lineup each and every game. It was a lot to put on the shoulders of a teenager, but the incisive passes he produced are memories that reaffirm why younger me fell in live with this team. It was part part passing and part idealism of playing with youth. Who doesn’t believe in the concept of utilizing your own youth academy with young prospects to bolster the team? No sugar daddy came to our rescue. It was a youthful idealism matched by my own youthful reassurance that I knew what was best for the world.

Arsenal. You and I played on throughout the years. I was there for you through some humiliating losses and you were there for me every weekend morning. We completed each other in a very dependent day that was borderline vice if not for how healthy you were to end the week with. That’s why it tickles my wrong bone to admit that sometimes I’m just not excited by you anymore. We have fallen into a rut. The foreplay needs work and the same moves just don’t cut it anymore. It’s not because the moves are bad, it’s just the context around those moves has changed. Early on this season, the game against Swansea was a reminder of the Arsenal I had first fallen in love with followed by a taste of who she had become. The passing and movement in that game hit me with the nostalgic wand so hard my seat wasn’t enough to contain me, but then the defense conceded again and again. It was the same issue against Bayern. Oh captain, when you’re gone the boat gets torpedoed to shreds.

Arsenal. I have no doubt you will defeat Chelsea and bring back another FA Cup. I will be watching. The past few dates have been a mix of duds, effort and a different mentality to the bedroom. It might not be a well, but the faucet is back on. We have our issues but leaving is never an option. I will be there, eyes glued to screen, hand on the badge of my jersey, as the final flows on.

Poor and Forward, possibly both?

The team that scores the most goals comes out the winner in a game of football on every corner of the planet. This fact doesn’t deviate even if it is being bounced around to places like the Samoa Islands or Uzbekistan. Once the ball rips through the back of the net you know that something special has occurred. From a Demba Ba tap in to a Hulk like shot stunning the goalkeepers palms, that feeling of scoring has to be experienced to truly grasp what this action conveys. So what drives a forward to score goals?

Arsene Wenger said a few weeks ago that the best forwards in the game today were from South America and I have to agree with him. Luis Saurez, Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez, Edison Cavani, and Falcao (before surgery) are just some of the names that jump out of my head when thinking about answers to justify this opinion. I have heard that growing up in poverty helps develop that hustling instinct needed to take advantage of any opportunities that come your way. A striker for all his passing and of the ball movement is ultimately judged by the amount of goals he scores. Taking advantage of a gap between two centerbacks or running into an intended pass because of the space allotted are opportunities to bombard the six yard box with shots. I don’t want to say that a correlation relates between your socioeconomic upbringing and how many goals you score, but both share certain traits that can better be developed when put under pressure from the less than positive attacks of life.

Traits Shared

  • Hard work
  • Eye for opportunity
  • Make a lot out of a little
  • Experience with pressure
  • Hustle
  • Ruthless when it comes to move up a rank

Emotional Intelligence

I was reading a BBC article the other day on how to make the perfect footballer. The section that struck me the most was when the discussion of football intelligence came up. It’s something that’s common sense, but gets the best of us sometimes. As a fan my emotional intelligence is that of a child without a juice box. I am keenly aware of how footballer probably feels, when stepping on the pitch, through interviews I’ve read and seen. My expertise ends there and it would be in the interest of all to not quote my last sentence. Those emotions must be 100x greater than my childish like straw sucking,

What is my point? Controlling negative emotions and turning them into wine is what Southampton emphasizes to their players and nit what Jesus did. I mean he does make wine but not from the angry, fuming, volcano blowing emotions of us punitive beings, Instead of earning yourself a red card for kicking out at an opponent, why not up their annoyance by marking and having him or her kick you? I know first hand how easy it is to not control emotions and end up committing yourself to an act of stupidity. The result is that I do not achieve the desired outcome that I was expecting. A red card for any team automatically puts them at a numerical disadvantage where tactics have to be changed with a more defensive flavor in mind.

Is emotional intelligence a factor in why the players of Southampton sell integrate themselves so quickly at their new clubs? Gareth Bale had a very fine first season with Real Madrid in which he scored in two cup finals. In a game where anything but a victory puts you in the same space as the other teams eliminated those are the moments you want to conquer. It’s a challenge to step up for the big moments and that must be applauded. Calum Chambers was thrown into the Arsenal first team as a centerback/rightback due to the numerous injuries at the beginning of the season and he performed well. Playing the game in a dirty manner via time wasting and or diving is part of the game just like those players who try to prevent teammates from swarming the instigator of a verbal spat or a bad tackle.

Another positive from this is the positivity that arises from  a club taking mental health into account. Not just in the form of football, but in our modern society, mental health should be put on the same pedestal as physical pain. It affects many people among other professions with massive stress even if its just kicking a ball around. It’s encouraging to see progressive advances taking place when in other decades of the sport something like this might have taken a backseat to other issues. The athletes are in sports, but it’s we the fans who consume a product that results from the mass expectations of those who built it. Fans, internal drive, and and the clubs who employ these players are bricks building up this wall of expectation and that comes at the price of mental instability in the cases of some players.