In the last three matches Arsenal have scored 7 goals. Scoring at least two goals a game is a great indication that Arsenal’s attacking play is unhampered. And yet, we have people saying that Arsenal need to drop Rob Holding, because he hurts our build up.
In the last three matches Arsenal have conceded 7 goals. Each of those 7 goals were down to mostly individual errors. Against Southampton Ramsdale passes a weak as piss pass to Zinchenko, it’s intercepted and Thomas Partey half-ass defends the situation. For the second goal Partey turns the ball over and then Gabriel forgets he has a player to defend, instead electing to watch seagulls or something. And for the third goal, Holding tries to win the first header but doesn’t and then Zinchenko just goes full Mustafi and lets his man score a tap in at the far post.
I’ve had someone tell me that those three goals are actually Holding’s fault. One, Ramsdale didn’t want to pass to Holding. Two, Holding was 15 yards too deep. Three, Holding didn’t win the initial header. Even if all of these are true, they still don’t excuse the other glaring errors.
Against West Ham, it is true that Holding was bodied by Antonio. Antonio is a good player who uses his physicality to great effect. However, the two goals we conceded were down to Partey turning the ball over and Gabriel conceding a penalty and for the second Tierney just utterly losing Bowen and Gabriel falling asleep again. Someone please tell me how these are somehow Holding’s fault. And while you’re at it, tell me how Saka’s missed penalty is Holding’s fault.
Against Liverpool, the whole team was ass whupped. Holding did concede a penalty, though I think it’s a soft as baby shit pen, but let’s put the blame where it deserves to be put, squarely on him. But for the first goal, you see Holding actually had to defend two guys because Ben White was nowhere. On the overlap he can’t prevent the cross (because, again, he was defending two dudes) and then Jota isn’t defended by Xhaka and once again Gabriel fucks up his marking and lets golden boot winner Mo Salah waltz in at the far post.
It is a fact that putting Holding in instead of Saliba changes things up for Arsenal. We are the only club that has had an almost static back four this entire season, rotating almost zero players, especially in the CB pair. Gabriel always had a rick in him but it looks like Saliba covered his ass and maybe Holding doesn’t. Or maybe playing with Holding makes Gabriel nervous, like he’s on a first date with Salma Hayek.
I’m not going to lie to you, I saw that Arteta made Partey drop deeper and collect the ball instead of relying on Holding to initiate the attack. And yeah, maybe Ramsdale didn’t want to pass to Holding. Rob Holding isn’t William Saliba.
There are a lot of folks calling for Partey to play RB, that way we can put Benjamin White in at CB, and move Zinchenko to DM and play Tierney at LB. That’s the kind of Galaxy brain thinking that resulted in a 5-0 20 minute first half for Tottenham the other day. Unless Arteta has been secretly working on this scheme for the last 6 months, in which case I wonder why we never deployed it, those kinds of lineup changes are the exact thing that will get you a hiding.
The even funnier part of this is that Partey is a huge part of the problem. He is the one who cannot handle pressure at the moment. Zinchenko also seems to be wilting a bit.
We all knew all along that squad depth was the problem. That squad depth was going to prevent us from winning the League. And here we are, looking at that problem head on. I don’t know if moving around the chess pieces is going to fix that problem, or exacerbate it. If I were to guess, it’s the latter.
To beat Manchester City in the League requires near perfection. When Liverpool won the League in 2020, they did it with 99 points. That’s 15 points less than the maximum you can get in a season. They had had 97 points the season before that, losing just once the entire season. City won the League that year by one point. That’s what it takes to beat Manchester City, folks. You have to have as close to a perfect season as possible, and then actually go two points better.
City have 70 points and 8 games to play. Even if Arsenal beat them in Manchester (which I’m going to go ahead and say isn’t happening) I would expect Manchester City to finish the season with 91 points. Arsenal would have to win every game to finish with 93.
I seriously suggest you manage your expectations for tomorrow’s match. Manchester City look like a runaway forest fire right now. They are destroying everything in their path. Arsenal need to be perfect for the rest of the season, Arsenal need to dig a trench deep and wide to stop that fire. And I don’t think that some galaxy brain lineup changes are going to be what does it.
But Lord, I hope I’m wrong. Maybe it will be exactly what we needed. Or maybe Holding will rise to the occasion. Or we’ll just get turned over. Either way it kind of doesn’t matter. Like a mad monk chanting a mantra, I keep telling myself; it ain’t over until it’s actually over, enjoy the ride, it’s been great, we can get them next year if need be, we weren’t even supposed to be in the title race, we can buy players to add squad depth this summer, it took Liverpool years to finally beat Manchester City to the title…