Key stats from the loss to the Oilers

202 – Pressures applied by Arsenal against MCFC – 2nd most pressures Arsenal have applied this season (203 was 1st, Chelsea)

54 – Pressure regains against MCFC, the 2nd most we’ve had this season (62 was 1st, that was against Leeds)

72 – Pressures Arsenal applied in the MCFC final third, the most that Arsenal have applied this season in that area

Some context is needed here.

First, the Man City Oilers had 70% of the possession. Which is Arsenal’s 2nd lowest total of any match this season (the lowest was.. Man City). And while the red card didn’t help things, it didn’t really hurt things either – Arsenal only had 33% of the possession prior to the red card. And there is a small correlation between pressures and possession but it’s not a strong correlation because whether a team pressures or not is a coaching decision. For example, against Chelsea, Arsenal had 35% possession and 203 pressures and against Leicester City Arsenal had 36% possession and 124 pressures. In the game against Norwich (home) we had 52% of the possession and 163 pressures. In the two matches against City we had 202 pressures and 124 pressures – the lower number could have been adversely affected by Xhaka’s 35th minute red card but the point here is that it’s a choice that the manager makes.

Second, the high number of pressure regains is outstanding but the percentage was kind of low at 26%. We average 30% this season which is in the top 10.

But, the key thing is that we attacked them in their own final third with 72 pressures. Last season we played Man City twice in the League (which is really unusual…*) and only attempted 19 pressures in their final third, and 15 pressures in their final third. And the season before that we mostly pressured them in midfield rather than in their own final third.

DateVenueResultGFGAOpponentTklTklWDef 3rdMid 3rdAtt 3rdPressSucc%Def 3rdMid 3rdAtt 3rd
2022-01-01HomeL12Manchester City231312832025426.7547672
2021-08-28AwayL05Manchester City957201242419.4674215
2021-02-21HomeL01Manchester City867101172521.4505215
2020-10-17AwayL01Manchester City221691121042726345119
2020-06-17AwayL03Manchester City86170672131.393622
2019-12-15HomeL03Manchester City191210722235323.87611136

As shown by this small excel spreadsheet, Arsenal made more high pressures in this one match than they had in their previous 4 matches combined.

So, the question then is why?

If I look at the players’ numbers we see that Lacazette attempted 16 (in 70 minutes!), Saka 13 (in 83 minutes), and Xhaka even had 12 final third pressures. Ødegaard spent most of the match waving his teammates to press high, but ironically, he himself only had 7 (4th in the team for pressures in the final third).

One answer could be “personnel”. That is one thing that Arteta’s proponents often trot out when they are protecting his often unorthodox coaching decisions; we just don’t have the right players for him to play a certain way. I’m not sure how much of that I buy. In the two matches against them last season Xhaka made just 4 (total) high pressures. Saka made a combined 5 high pressures. Lacazette played in both matches but crucially, he came on as a sub, with P-EA starting up top. The reality is that we just didn’t press. We weren’t a pressing team for two years under Arteta, that is just a statistical fact. We played almost no proactive defense under him. Which was easily the most frustrating thing about Arteta’s first two years.

Another answer could be that he knew City would be tired. That is possible, Pep complained about the rest that Arsenal had and said that allowed us to be more “physical”. I think there is some kernel of truth to this, however, again, the plan wasn’t just some small increase in high pressure, or just a few moments of pressure, Arsenal committed to the high press and were relentless about it – despite the fact that a player was sent off in the 61st minute.

I have been openly frustrated with Arteta’s coaching decisions for a few years now. And I have explained numerous times that most of my frustration comes from our side’s passive (some people would call it “patient”) attack and defense (which people said was because we had too many slow players like Xhaka).

But in the last month – after his team received much criticism and since dropping Auba – Arsenal look like a massively changed side. We are very clearly attacking more (xG is WAY up), taking teams on with dribbles, and getting into dangerous places in the opposition final third. And as we saw with the game plan against the Manchester Oilers, we are also starting to add pressure and proactive defending to our tool kit.

Maybe this was part of the “process” all along? And if it was or wasn’t I don’t care. All I care is that we continue playing football this way and don’t go back to our anti-dribble, anti-defense, anti-football.

Qq

*Once home and once away. Does that happen every year? Weird.

43 comments

  1. “Maybe this was part of the “process” all along? And if it was or wasn’t I don’t care. All I care is that we continue playing football this way and don’t go back to our anti-dribble, anti-defense, anti-football.”

    +1

  2. You all know I’m of a mind that this manager knows what he’s doing. I have two observations.

    One, that a team doesn’t just start to press a top side like City from one day to the next. As much as we might have wanted to see this kind of football a year ago, I posit that the players weren’t ready to do it, certainly not against this caliber of opposition. It’s not because they’re not good players but because you need a certain number of reps to get good at anything, certainly something as complex as a dynamic team press against the world’s finest technicians. And yes, having a youthful, energetic front four helps. The manager sees them do this and more on the training ground. If he can see that our B team is ripping “the press” apart one day before the big game, why would he set the team up to fail by trying it anyway? He set them up to defend in a low risk fashion and it was awful sometimes, but in the background the lab was humming.

    Two, a manager deserves blame when his teams don’t perform but also credit when they do. This type of performance, and the types of performances we’ve put in in the past few months is years in the making. He has a young team playing good football on both sides of the ball, all pulling together in one direction, and improving in leaps and bounds. Most of his big decisions about personnel he has gotten right. Long may it last. I think he is a straight shooter who can lead this team to even higher heights.

    1. It doesn’t take two years to teach people how to press. It’s not as difficult as you’re making it out to be. The reality is that he spent 18-20 months teaching us how to be a very basic defensive unit which almost entirely covered space and which almost never pressed high. That said, we did press a lot occasionally over the last two years, BTW, proof that he was teaching it but he just didn’t want us to do it often.

      You can sing his praises all you like but for me, we ended up paying a huge tax for him to learn on the job. Maybe you’re ok with that, I wasn’t and still worry that we are going to revert to the type of football we saw for huge stretches.

      1. We don’t agree and that’s ok. I can understand your point of view. I wonder though if you believe he was actively holding the team back; if so, to what end? Doesn’t it make more sense to posit that the conservative football was an unpleasant necessity while the foundations were laid?

        1. I don’t think he was deliberately holding the team back. That’s too binary and reductive. I’d posit he didn’t know how he wanted to play. The facts are we have seen just about every variation and formation these past two years. Remember when he was asking Tierney to throw 50 crosses a game and was defending it to questioning journalists.

          Now some folk will say he did know how he wanted to play but he didn’t have the players and needed to replace most of them which is why it’s taken two years to get here. But he’s also the guy who thought Willian and Luiz were the answer and extended Auba for 3 years. There’s a case for both sides of the coin.

          I don’t think there are any facts that support an argument that this was all part of a grand plan and he always wanted to play this way. That’s fairytale stuff. IMHO he’s learned on the job after a lot of experimentation and in tandem the hierarchy have set a mandate to reduce the age of the squad and move on the highest earners.

          1. Agree with the last statement. The more I think about it the more stupid the signing of Soares, Luiz, Willian feel. I think we really lost the plot there in trying quick fixes.

            I have been an advocate for Xhaka but I feel this team has reached a stage where he is probably the weakest in the first 11. Apart from a striker getting a top midfielder should also be a priority. A 120 million outlay spent on getting 1 striker and 1 midfielder :P. I think Laca, Cedric, Elneny, Kola, Niles and Nketiah off the books should cover the wage aspect. If Arteta can reconcile with Saliba and Gendouzi then we can add strong depth to our squad next year without spending.

            Partey was brilliant against City.

          2. The statement that he thought Willian and Luiz were “the answer” is close to libelous. They were brought in to fill important gaps in the squad as free transfers, desperate but necessary. Willian was supposed to do what Odegaard is doing now and no doubt he was given a long leash. That gamble didn’t pay off but that’s how it goes sometimes. That failure paved the way for ESR’s emergence.

          3. Doc, ‘libelous’. That’s not a word that’s thrown around lightly. Please explain what on earth you’re talking about.

          4. What is there to explain? It seemed apt. You can’t tell me you were not exaggerating to make a point, surely.

        2. “Doesn’t it make more sense to posit that the conservative football was an unpleasant necessity while the foundations were laid?”

          I agree with this but isn’t that the same as saying he deliberately held the team back? Because I really do think it was deliberate and that it was quantifiable. I can see it in a number of players’ stats:

          Willian – went from a frequent dribbler to a rare dribbler and is back to being a frequent dribbler
          Xhaka – went from a frequent presser to a rare presser and is back to being a frequent presser. He also took the ball away from Xhaka for about 6 months before giving it back to him. The data points on Xhaka are super weird.

          It all also shows up in the team stats: xG went down and back up, shots totals went down and now back up (including weirdly letting fly from distance), active defensive measures went WAY down and now they are back up.

          Again, I don’t think we disagree over much here other than perhaps my tone and judgement. I have been pretty clear that I hated all that stuff and I also think it was unnecessary. I don’t want to put words in your mouth (fingers!) but I get the sense that you are/were ok with this approach.

          And I bet we both agree that the way we are playing now is rather enjoyable and different from what we saw the first two years.

          1. Thanks for the insights Tim. I suppose we are debating the why if it all. Why did it take this long for the team to produce this type of football? One school of thought is that Arteta mostly knew what he was doing but it took him time to get here while the other camp argues that he was flailing and played reductive football until some stuff fell into place. I don’t disagree that we played with a handbrake on, just on why the handbrake was applied. We needed results, and we had to get them any way we could. To me it’s as simple as that. When he tried to get fancy with tactical formations or advanced player roles, we typically got burned.

            I made the same mistake in my one and only year as a coach of any kind. I wanted to use all my knowledge of the sport and wrote lengthy emails about tactics and led 45 minute warmup sessions. But I had a team that was still learning the fundamentals. I should’ve focused on that and I should have become a leader who could fit them and their needs, but instead my insistence on detail and perfection caused most folks to want to quit. I tried to make them into something they were not and it was impossible. I think Mikel tried too hard to make certain things work at first too, and the reductive football was his concession to practicality until he could get the necessary pieces, as Greg also astutely points out below.

            I say this all the time but perhaps it bears repeating: he’s human and I know he’s not perfect, but I do respect the heck oh keep him.

            He walked into a horribly toxic environment and led a culture change. There is nothing more difficult than change management, anyone who has tried to change anything at any workplace can tell you that. I remember what games were like in the latter Wenger and Emery eras. Half empty stadiums, competing banners flown on airplanes, disaffected star players under performing and fomenting rebellion. We couldn’t play out from a press, we couldn’t press other teams without getting cut through, we were vulnerable on transitions and we didn’t score enough goals. Years of misplaced funds had reduced the squad to its lowest ebb in decades. It was a massive undertaking to fix this team. Now? The stadium is rocking for home games. There is real camaraderie in the team. We look like a polished unit on both sides of the ball. Pomp and circumstance, posturing and buffoonery don’t produce that, only genuine passion and clever leadership. That’s the pudding where I find my proof.

          2. I disagree about the idea that he walked into a “horribly toxic environment”.

            I think he’s a toxic manager. But hey as long as he’s winning I’m good.

            You know what, though? i probably shouldn’t be.

          3. I agree with Tim. He might have had a “plan” but no manager gets the luxury of a plan featuring two 8th place finishes, without expectations of commensurate returns.

            I’m seeing people suggest we should be happy with two more years of 5th/6th place. How? Arsene could’ve got us that without the dour two years in between!

          4. Arteta is a very divisive manager. For everyone who hoped the fanbase would be united post Arsene it’s a big disappointment. For me the disconnect is been between the rhetoric and narrative he walked into a car crash and the fact he’s delivered two very underwhelming 8th place finishes.

          5. Matt, I don’t think he’s very divisive at all except maybe online. I dont see any Arteta out banners or protests at the matches. I see full stadiums and a great atmosphere. How do you reconcile that with your view?

            Tim if he’s toxic, who is he toxic to? Not his players. Not the match going fans. Not his coaching staff. After years of discontent everyone finally seems unified with him at the helm. Who is he harming in your view?

          6. I get the feeling, perhaps wrongly, that some folks just don’t like this manager. I’m ok with that. Emery was never going to be my cup of tea. Why not just say that? I don’t need proof for why you should or should not like him. And surely you don’t need to prove me wrong because I do like him.

  3. I have had my reservations about Arteta, and last year at about this time was saying he had to go. Even thinking the same earlier this season. I know it’s not that hard to teach pressing, but you have to have players who are willing and able to do it. Here’s the lineup for the team we fielded on Dec. 29th 2019, MA8’s first home game. https://www.premierleague.com/match/46795 Ozil, Torreira, Nelson, Auba and Guendouzi were our front 5. That’s not a team anyone could teach to press effectively. One of those guys started vs. MCFC this weekend – Bukayo Saka – AT WINGBACK! And that group somehow won an FA Cup.

    The rebuild we’ve undertaken has been massive. He made a lot of player choices along the way, more or less replacing every position on the field. And now we are playing very differently. I just don’t see how that’s coincidental, or dumb luck.

    He must have had to do a lot of convincing to the Kroenkes to get them to back 160 mm in new transfers this summer. And get them to stick with him even when things were bleak, including through a pandemic. It was always going to be a multi-season revamp, with the dreadful roster we had. If we continue to play this way, I will conclude he’s done a fantastic job, and we will see this in retrospect as a masterful and patient rebuild.

    That’s IF we continue to play this way, of course.

    1. I’m not sure what you’re saying is true.

      Torreira made 24 pressures per90 under Emery – he was a pressure beast, his problem wasn’t that he couldn’t press, it’s that he’s too small for the PL.
      Auba under Emery attempted 17 pressures per90 and won a very good 28%. When Arteta came in he had him stop pressing, until this year! And now he’s back up to 17 pressures per match and winning 26% of them.
      Guendouzi was a better presser than Xhaka.
      Reiss Nelson was also very good at applying pressure. His data points are very small but when he was on the pitch he pressed. He attempted 19 pressures in that match against Chelsea and only won 2.

      But you should go look at the data for that match, we actually pressed them quite a bit, we just did it in midfield and defense rather than high up the pitch. Also, Guendouzi was very good in that game, lol, one of our best pressers. Torreira was very much outclassed in that game, though, and again that’s just because he was way too small.

      https://fbref.com/en/matches/850e18c6/North-West-London-Derby-Arsenal-Chelsea-December-29-2019-Premier-League

      Ozil, I will concede sucked ass at pressing.

      1. And therein lies the problem. A press with only 4 guys, 2 of whom are marginal at it, and a third who physically can’t stand up to the requirements for pressing, isn’t much of a press. I think it extends beyond pressing, too. It’s having wingers who not only press, but who are fast and can progress/dribble like Saka and Martinelli. And do some of the hold up. These are not easy players to find. Also agree with MattB – having a defense that can support a high press is critical. Our CB’s that day were Luiz and Chambers. White and Gabriel are just miles ahead of them athletically.

        I can make an argument that Arteta was trying lots of players out to see if they fit into his vision. (He took his sweet time doing it, but you can only work with the players you have.)

    1. Ha. Not sure if anyone got that reference (Houston Oilers were an NFL team). Bills fan here who remembers the good ‘ole days of Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, John Elway, Warren Moon, etc… Miss watching those guys play against each other.

  4. 2 years down the line with no coast in sight , guess “process” is when we accidentally fall out of the tub and start walking again.
    Whatever, like it

  5. This is great Tim, it’s lovely when the stats are so clear and kudos to you for identifying the high press a long time ago as a key part of our game that has been missing.

    I’ll probably get some shit for this but I think the main reason for the change to a high press is the new defence.

    I don’t think anyone’s in doubt that since Ramsdale, Tomi and White came in, we have looked much more dynamic, confident and secure in and out of possession at the back of the field, and IMO that improvement directly enables us to press higher, transition better, attack better.

    You don’t press high up if you’re not secure at the back, if you can’t manage the spaces behind the press. When I see a team that presses high I don’t look at the front players chasing down like rabbits as much as I look at the back line and midfielders, where they take up their positions, how they are cutting off out-balls, how aggressive they are and how good they are on the ball.

    Because when your opposition beats the first line of your press, and they always will eventually, especially if they are City, you need White / Gabriel / Partey / Tomi to quickly shut down any attack in the spaces behind, to win the first / second ball and to instantly start your own attack. We did that magnificently in the first half against City, it was so good to watch.

    Last season and at the start of this season we couldn’t do it, we were getting passed around too easily and so we dropped off and stopped pressing, we reverted to passive conservatism.

    And I don’t think it can be a coincidence that when Auba was dropped for Martinelli we suddenly seemed to kick on even further, but I don’t have a comparison to offer of what Martinelli is doing better / differently. Maybe he’s staying wider. If the stats show something there’ I’d love to know.

    Yes, the amount of pressing the team does high up the pitch is a management choice, and it seems clear that choice has changed recently. But I don’t think of this as the manager suddenly changing his approach from negative to positive as much as responding to and playing to the developing strengths of his team. The two things are symbiotic and feed back on each other.

    1. “I don’t think anyone’s in doubt that since Ramsdale, Tomi and White came in, we have looked much more dynamic, confident and secure in and out of possession at the back of the field, and IMO that improvement directly enables us to press higher, transition better, attack better.”

      I think there’s merit to this argument.

    2. Fantastic, points, MattB. it all has to work together. Defense and attack pressing.

      As to Auba/Martinelli – I found 2 big discrepancies between the players in terms of stats:
      interceptions/90. Auba has .09. Martinell is 1.38 Tackles+Interceptions/90. Auba is 1.13 Martinelli 3.68 That’s a huge number, especially for a winger. That’s more than Gabriel, Ben White or Partey!

      I don’t think it’s necessarily about Martinelli’s offensive contribution – even though it’s been incredible. It’s the defensive contribution he’s making that really makes things cook.

        1. Yikes – yes – sorry Greg – it was your great point there!

          Thanks for the correction, Matt!

    3. There’s definitely some mileage here but there has to be more to it than that. Tim has posted at length how poor Arsenal’s attacking metrics have been until quite recently. I mean it’s only the past two months we’ve stopped being regularly outshot by the opposition.

      The stats say we were a defence-first side. The change to be attack oriented is a 180 degree shift. Not an evolution but a change of philosophy of night and day proportions.

      For all the shiny new things, Gabriel, Tierney, Partey, Xhaka, Auba, Laca (& Saka, ESR, Odegaard) played most matches last season. That’s the spine of the team (GK aside) unchanged. So for me it can’t be solely this season’s new personnel.

      I’m speculating but I think it’s also a reaction to the two poor performances at OT and Everton. Norwich (h), Leeds (a) and Southampton (h) were ideal opponents to experiment with a more aggressive approach.

      We’ll know if it’s the new norm soon enough. Spuds away up next.

  6. Great coaches do not just arrive as great from day 1, there are no overnight sensations. Guardiola is always cited as a someone who went from the B team to A team at Barca and brought in an instant vision change, and he is exceptional, but his long apprenticeships as a player, playing under Cryuff, Bobby Robson and Mazzone did a lot to help him formulate his vision. Klopp’s coaching vision has been an evolution since his player days at Mainz and didn’t really take flight until he and Buvac landed at Dortmund. It takes time for a coach to arrive at the visionary level… if they ever do – most end up being pragmatists of one level or another.

    I’m not sure if we can say Arteta has a vision yet on how he wants the team to play. We’re witnessing an evolution in real time perhaps. He’s apprenticed under three very distinctive styles; Moyes at Everton, a pragmatist who keeps it simple but emphasizes organization, hard work and physicality; Wenger, who took a more laissez-faire approach to team structure/tactics but emphasized self-discipline, artistry, expression and creativity; and Guardiola, who has fairly rigid structures through the back 2/3 of the pitch and is a proponent of a different style of pressing than the Ragnick/Klopp/Tuchel gegenpressing school that’s pre-eminent in people’s minds when they think of pressing games.

    How will Arteta end up synthesizing these influences into Arteta-ball? I don’t know if we have any idea yet, and I’m not sure he could even describe it. And that’s not a fault in my mind. It’s a function of his age and experience as a manager.

    1. when i was reading tim’s post, i was thinking along these same lines. arteta is a SIGNIFICANTLY better coach today than he was two years ago. obviously, i capitalized significantly for emphasis. doc believes arteta knew what he was doing when he came in the door. sorry, doc, but arteta hadn’t a clue what he was doing. i believe he knew what he wanted to do and had an idea of how to get it done. that’s not the same as knowing what you’re doing.

      as soon as mikey got into that hot seat, he realized there were tons of things he’d failed to legislate for. he had to make constant adjustments, changes, and just figure shit out. he’s come to understand that there are only so many hours in the day. he’s realized what he thought was a great plan was only a half-assed idea. through attrition, he’s added certain components to his training regimen and eliminated others. even now, he’s still figuring shit out. the real process is the growth of arteta, more so than the team.

      i have a young man that i began mentoring as a coach. this kid literally went to college with my daughter. however, he’s super hungry and motivated. i told him that he’s going to look back 5 years from now and realize that he was an idiot coach in 2021…and that’s okay. every manager was an idiot when they began managing football. what arteta needs is the humility to understand that he doesn’t know everything. just because arteta was a brilliant tactician, that doesn’t mean he’ll be a brilliant strategist or a brilliant manager. those qualities take time, hard work, focus, and humility to develop.

      1. Brilliant, Josh!

        I think there was a lot of grasping at straws and throwing stuff against the proverbial wall for Arteta. I honestly believe we still don’t know the degree to which the organization was left a mess, especially after Don Raul. So much was overhauled. Wenger ran everything himself. He was the organizational glue for so long. He was the institutional knowledge, visionary, and day-to-day manager. That is very difficult to replace. Arteta and Edu and Vinai and everyone else has had to reinvent Arsenal. It’s a work in progress, but the sun is shining for the first time in a long time, from where I sit.

        I shudder to think that at some level Josh Kroenke might be due some credit. He chose Arteta and has stuck with him, while greenlighting a top-to-bottom rebuild of the organization. Maybe he just sat back and rode dumb luck, but at minimum he didn’t call for Arteta’s head when things were very dark. Other organizations might have panicked and created a revolving door of coaches. Have I lost my mind or is there some truth to this?

      2. I think we are sort of saying the same thing? I respect your coaching chops and I don’t doubt you’re right about the learning curve. I’ll be being a former player and assistant helps though.

  7. I see that there are some split views on whether Arteta was/is a good coach/manager. Personally, I think he was and still is clueless. I tend to think that he just got lucky with some injuries/absences that forced his hand to play certain players in certain formations. Not too long ago we were lucky to draw with Crystal Palace and Brighton, and lost to Manchester United and Everton (in a very pathetic fashion). We barely managed to beat teams like Burnley and Norwich, and were humiliated by Liverpool. So for me, one good game against Manchester City (or I should say one good half of the game) doesn’t change or say much. Yes, we were amazing at times and I hope we take a lot of positives from it but I think given what we had experienced in the last 2 years under Arteta (more bad and ugly than the good), I’m still a bit skeptical. Oh, and the fact that he wasn’t on the sidelines screaming, yelling, gesticulating every 5 seconds like a maniac also helped with respect to our guys play with more freedom and expression.

  8. TIM: “But in the last month – after his team received much criticism and since dropping Auba – Arsenal look like a massively changed side. We are very clearly attacking more (xG is WAY up), taking teams on with dribbles, and getting into dangerous places in the opposition final third.”
    _______________________

    In the last month. Key phrase. Until we played City, I’d have put that down to the quality of the opposition (we have had a kind run of fixtures). But a game off in the midst of festive congestion which can throw up 3 games in a week clearly made a difference. We had to take it to City. When White dispossessed DeBruyne and we crafted the Saka goal, DeBruyne could barely raise a gallop to win the ball back. Partey was outstanding, but did not have to play at a particularly high tempo to control the midfield. deBruyne, again, looked low on running and energy. It’s very unlike him, and certainly unlike a Guardiola team.

    My point is that we’ll have to wait and see how long term sustained this tactic is. We’ve got Spurs (unbeaten in 8) and Liverpool in the cup (without Salah and Mane) coming up. That’ll tell us if this style is the new normal.

    I agree with Josh that a new coach will need time to figure things out. Not only has Arteta had plenty of time… he’s needed plenty of churn to get the team playing this way. What’s his count now? Twenty or so ins and outs? Emery got us to 5th in one season and barely any churn, and like it or not, his Arsenal team had a clear attacking identity. So no, I don’t think Mikel is some coaching savant. He’s like the trust fund kid who’s boasting about how successful he’s been. A good coach is part alchemist.

    1. Taking nothing away from the fact that we’ve looked fluid, energetic and very good. It’s all of the pieces, but the key one for me has been Odegaard at the 10. Him, Laca, Saka, Martinelli and Tierney on the overlap are like a symphony. He’s freed Laca a little from much of the back to goal hard banging he’s had to do, and is often ahead of Laca in the play. He is very clever positionally, and is a good finisher (in addition to being a good dead ball specialist).

        1. Ode has been on fire for half a dozen games. Ozil was a good player for Arsenal for much longer. We shouldn’t let Mesut-in-the-doghouse totally define him. I’m going to put some more respect on his name. That said, Ode, at 23 has time to way surpass his achievements for Arsenal. They’re different players too. Ozil was a better passer and imo had a higher technical level and vision. Ode is a better finisher. He also drops deeper in the play, and presses more. Ode is a natural leader (I’d give the armband to him this summer), and Mesut is a more diffident character. They’re their own men. I wouldn’t want to interchange them.
          ________________________

          Been busy and I’ve just read Greg’s comment on the last thread. Greg, I dont listen to chatter around the club. In my criticisms of it or the manager, I follow the available facts.

          But I must confess that find your penchant for spinning away of the questionable actions of the manager or the club, the whitewashing and the guessing that excuses everything — as maddening as you find my pushbacks. Guess we’re square.

          Oh, and I love the fictional play in two acts 🙂 You’re a good egg. Be well.

          1. i almost completely agree with your comparison between ozil and ode. i especially agree that mesut is a much better passer of the ball. where we differ is mesut is better than ode in every way in the attacking phase of play, including finishing. with that, i think we’ll see ode at his best sometime later this year; perhaps between mid-spring and mid-fall.

          2. I did say clearly that Ode is a better finisher. But glad that we agree on the rest.

  9. Checking my own expectations in terms of points, not positions.

    Context: in the City / Liverpool era you need at least 90 to win the league, and probably 100. 75 is probably enough to guarantee top 4.

    We’re on course for around 70 points. Arteta’s first (half) season he got 54, second season 61, so there’s signs of steady improvement there despite all the problems. If we hit 70, that’s a 9 point or 15% improvement on last year.

    (In position terms, 70 points would have placed us 3rd last two seasons, but when Emery got 70 points in 18-19 we finished 5th. I think this is the most likely outcome for us this year).

    70 points would have been acceptable for me at the start of this season, but I think now we need to be aiming higher than that.

    I think I want to see us mid 70s (maybe top 4 maybe not), and hit 80s next season to re-establish ourselves back in Europe.

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