It was a thoroughly entertaining match we just saw against Everton; it had everything you want as an Arsenal fan: good goals, Mhki assisst hattrick, Mhki/Auba combination for our fourth goal, and a first Ramsey Hattrick (shame I ignored my instincts to re-buy him for my Fantasy PL for this game week. I instead went for Martial who Mou didn’t even start).
However, of all the talking points that the match threw up, the most exciting and most worthy of discussion is the return of the fluency and zest Arsene’s Arsenal are renowned for – the Wengerball. Is it back or just occasional?
Is Wengerball back and here to stay?
While the Arsenal team of 2001 through 2005 which featured world-class performers such as Pires, Henry, Bergkamp, and Ashley Cole showcased the very best of Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal teams, the 2008 team of technicians like Fabregas, RVP, Rosicky, and Arshavin was equally as pleasing to watch, the main difference being the relative lack of ruthlessness and efficiency which the 2004 class possessed.
However, as the financial gap between Arsenal and moneybags like City and United increased around 2010, so did the Wengerball (our best football) disappear.
To play highly technical and aesthetically pleasing football, you need world-class players, just like Pep’s Man City class of 2018.
Guardiola, for all the praise he gets for his beautiful brand of football, has always had world-class players to execute it. At Barcelona, he had Messi, Iniesta, and Sanchez. Today, he has Aguero, KDB, and Silva. Compare that to Wenger who lost Nasri and Fabregas and could only bring in Arteta (all respect to him). At times, Wenger’s starting 11 featured bang-average players like Gervinho, Bendtner, and Song.
Therefore, with Ozil and Mhkitaryan (two of Europe’s best playmakers of the past five years) pairing up with PEA (Aubamenyang) against Everton today, it’s no surprise that we saw one of our best footballing displays of the past six to eight years.
The football was so fluid and so efficient, especially in the first half, that Everton defenders didn’t know who to mark. The interchange of passes and positions between Ozil, Mhki, Iwobi, and Ramsey was just sublime.
READ ALSO: Is Ramsey back to 2014 best?
For the first time in years, we have three world-class players upfront, and given that Mhki and PEA already played this kind of football together at Dortmund, it’s fair to say that today’s display will not be a one-off but the return of Wengerball.
Arsenal players don’t mind conceding goals, and defensive issues still exist.
For all the good aspects of yesterday’s showing, one issue still sticks out like a sore thumb, and that is defensive indiscipline.
It became more obvious yesterday that this set of Arsenal players don’t mind conceding a goal or two, provided it wouldn’t cost them the game. Or how else do you explain Kolasinac’s meek attempt (if I can call it an attempt) to deny Calvert Lewin a free header on goal for Everton’s only goal.
He only needed to jump and compete more strongly with Lewin to stop him from heading the ball, or if at all he did, it would be a weak header or possibly not on target. Instead, Kolasinac just stood his ground hoping that simply backing into Lewin would be enough to put him off. That bit of Laziness just underlined the lack of accountability for defensive discipline and effort on the part of Arsenal players in general.
It was the same against Crystal Palace, you just knew the Arsenal players would not put it as much effort to defend in the second half knowing that the game was already won. On that occasion, too, Palace went on to score a predictable consolation goal.
Defensive discipline is not something you can just turn on and off as you please, it’s something that you have to make a culture. This lack of defensive accountability is the reason we have lost more games this season from a winning position than any one else – Stoke, Watford, Bournemouth and, recently, Swansea.
The tendency to not be defensively focused and committed is something that Wenger has to sort out, otherwise, we would still lose many ‘easy’ games regardless of our offensive prowess.
Time to replace Petr Cech?
I feel no joy asking this question, and I’m sure that is the same with most Arsenal fans: Can a team with high ambitions as Arsenal continue with a clearly fast-declining keeper like Cech?
My considered opinion is that Cech’s best day are well behind him.
Everyone knows that Penalty kicks are a lottery, nonetheless, there is still some science and art to it. In other words, some keepers are good at saving them – they have the talent. Some do their homework on the training pitch and guess right when the real life PKs come up. Heurelo Gomez is one of them.
After about 13 PKs and no save, it’s fair to say we have a goal-keeper who can’t save them – and that’s a major handicap.
Add to that, the individual errors, latest being the Swansea game, that are now a regular part of Cech’s performances. Having niggles, as we saw yesterday, doesn’t help too.
I read a few days ago that Wenger is eyeing Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak. I hope that is true, as finding a top keeper, together with defenders and a good defensive midfielder, should be our priority in the summer.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
- Is Wengerball truly back? Or it’s too soon to judge?
- Are Arsenal players defensively unaccountable?
- Do you agree that Cech should be replaced ASAP? Who would you buy if you were Wenger?
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