Yesterday’s match against Swansea, which finally ended in a victory, thanks to the yeoman’s effort of potentially one of Wenger’s best ever signings, Kolasinac, wasn’t so straight-forward.
The away team took the lead having not made any meaningful attack never mind have a shot on goal before then. However, our perfect home record, recent overall form, and the 5-2 mauling of Everton last weekend meant that a comeback and a win was never really in doubt.
Nonetheless, there were still a number of worrying signs surrounding the way we conceded such a cheap goal to an opponent who had just 25% of possession.
Firstly, we have to get rid of that habit, especially at the Emirates, where we allow an obviously weaker opponent score a goal through one long ball over the top or a through ball that beats our entire defensive high-line and leaves the opposition striker one-on-one with Cech.
No matter how much you dominate an opponent, sometimes, through a number of factors, such as a motivated goal-keeper with a point to prove, the ball striking the bar or post repeatedly, you might not get to score a goal let alone the two needed to win a match.
That was exactly what happened when Watford beat us at the Emirates last season – we conceded cheap goals but could not score enough goals to make a comeback and win. Sometimes, it takes just one goal to win a match.
Secondly, our wingbacks, especially Bellerin (whom I will discuss in a bit), should remember that the work of a wingback is defensive and much as it is attacking.
Bellerin becoming complacent; needs competition
When ever we concede cheap goals, whether through balls behind our defensive line or a poorly defended cross, it’s usually through Bellerin’s side. He was again totally exposed yesterday when Clucas just entered our box-18 freely through his side.
Bellerin is a very good player and giving that he’s still very young, he can become one of the best right-backs or right wing-backs in the game. However, he sometimes lacks tactical awareness or discipline. He doesn’t realise that there is a time to overlap with abandon and there is a time to just stay back and mind your defensive duties.
His lack of tactical awareness and positioning is also what got him into all sorts of tangles with Richarlison which resulted in a penalty being awarded against us in the Watford game.
This is where Kolasinac – or Monreal when playing left-back or wing-back – is better. Kolasinac is not as pacy as Bellerin but he hardly ever has to use it in a defensive sense because he ensures that the attacker is in front of him and that he’s not having to chase back.
Remarkably, Kolasinac, with three goals already and a number of assists, is the better than Bellerin when going forward. Therefore, it’s very possible to be an effective wingback in the attacking third and yet be defensively solid.
Beyond further coaching on the training pitch by Wenger, I believe Bellerin is also suffering from a lack of competition. Kolasinac, as good as he is, can be replaced adequately by Monreal but we haven’t really got any one on the right side who is close to as good as Bellerin. Debuchy, although starting to play well recently, has barely played 10 EPL games since signing from Newcastle and Chambers is just too cumbersome in that role.
Kolasinac can be one of Wenger’s best ever signings
Arsene Wenger in his long illustrious Arsenal career has signed many gems that have become world-class players in the famous red and white-sleeve, among them Vieira, Henry, Fabregas, Pires, and Kanu; therefore, to say that Kolasinac, after just three months as an Arsenal player, can be one of the great man’s best-ever has to be a well considered statement.
But, forget all the excitement and hype that star-striker signings elicit, Kolasinac is without doubt the best EPL signing of the season so far. I said this on here some weeks earlier and I still think so.
The man is just so effective in an attacking sense. You will never see him miss a goal scoring chance. Kolasinac also never fails to pick out a player with his cross or cut-back, he makes such perfect deliveries that make the finish for the receiving player very easy. We’ve seen such immaculate deliveries several times already this season, and again for yesterday for Ramsey to score.
He is arguably our most prolific player in the opponent’s box-18 – and I include Ozil and Sanchez in my submission. If he continues this way, very soon he’ll be one of Wenger’s best ever signings, for sure.
We hope, as the manager said in the post-match presser, that his substitution was precautionary and he’ll be available against City on Sunday.
Ramsey getting back his almost world-class standards of 2014
The last time, 2014, that we made a genuine challenge for the EPL, Ramsey was on fire through out that season. He scored about 20 goals in all competitions, including screamers like the one against Liverpool.
His performances and goals were so good and consistent that Wenger declared that he could be our own Frank Lampard – high praise indeed. He made the same assertion earlier this year ahead of our FA cup semi-final match against City.
However, seeing that four seasons after, Ramsey scored only his 50th goal for Arsenal yesterday against Swansea shows that there has been a massive gap between Ramsey’s potentials and achievements so far.
Ramsey, when able to put a long run of games together, is one of EPl’s best midfielders, and he showed his potentials in last year’s European Nations Cup.
In a season where we have such good attacking players as Lacazette, Ozil, and Sanchez, we can achieve great things again this season if Ramsey can stay fit and keep adding his goals and assists to what our more offensive attackers provide.
Can he stay fit? That’s the big question.
Up next… Manchester City
Manchester City is by far the best team in the league right now and since the start of the season. All the significant stats bear that fact out.
However, we go into the match in pretty decent form ourselves – something like 10 wins in the last 12 matches in all competitions. That said, Chelsea away is the only fixture of the lot that can measure up to the standard of Sunday’s match.
We got a commendable and comfortable draw at Stamford Bridge; we defended well without being blunt in attack. Therefore, our template for any positive result at the Etihad has to be based on good tactical discipline, sound defensive organization, and efficiency in attack – we might not get much of the ball, so we have to make the best of our chances.
We need to give City something to worry about at the back. Otherwise, they will launch attack after attack against our defence.
Players like Xhaka and Bellerin have to show that they have the maturity and tactical discipline to handle these sort of tests. Xhaka should get close to the likes of DeBruyne in midfield without getting any early yellow card.
Finally, a draw would be a very good result. A win is not impossible either. The very worst case scenario should be a narrow loss. Obviously, I, and other Arsenal fans, don’t want that, but the reality is that City can beat anyone, especially at the Etihad. It’s, therefore, vital that if we lose, gallantly and narrowly, it shouldn’t be a morale-sapping one, or one that brings back all the Wenger-out banners.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Can Bellerin be as good as Kolasinac in his right wing-back role?
Do you think Ramsey can stay fit and reach the heights of 2014?
Do you think it’s possible for us to get any sort of positive result against Aguero and co.?
Drop your views in the comments below ⇓