- Manchester City: now Uefa are after them as well as the Premier League
- Arsenal 5 Barcelona 3: the video and the report
By Bulldog Drummond
We now have a decent video of the Arsenal game against Barcelona available so it must be time to take a further set of thoughts about the game.
“This is fluidity in the extreme,” announced the Telelgraph considering the game. “Look closely, Arsenal’s forward line are not always where you think they’ll be,” says The Athletic… “Xavi says friendly is ‘like a Champions League tie’,” says the Guardian.
It was another sloppy start from the Gunners says the Mirror.
Mind you the Mirror aren’t the only publication to go for a wander. “Man City scandal is not about fair play – it’s about fraud” says the Independent. Which is not about Arsenal but rather interesting that they are still intent on running that story which first emerged some months ago. Worth a read too.
But my point is that a lot of the publications that have journalists who notice things rather than those who just repeat the party line, notice that Arsenal are engaged in another transformation. Which is itself a transformation for the media, for they didn’t notice the initial transformation that Arteta made when he took over the side, in terms of how the defence played, nor the transformation in 2021/2 (that’s the one where everyone got excited about three opening defeats), nor that at the start of that season (that’s the one that… well, no, you’ll remember that one ok)… So having looked chumps three times (or four, if you count them all predicting that Arsenal would finish 5th or 6th last season). So they are determined now to make sure that we know all about transformations, now they have realised they are there.
So what have we got? For the game against Barcelona, Arsenal had Trossard on the left Gabriel Jesus in the middle and Havertz running midfield. 15 minutes in, Trossard had appeared to be running midfield. Gabriel Jesus took on the other two positions at different time, and so to Havertz. Saka meanwhile popped up at centre forward. (Yes, honest. Watch the video).
Now that can confuse commentators somewhat, but when it comes to being on the pitch, it confuses defences quite a bit more. No one quite knows where the attack is coming from.
Of course, over time the players will get more used to it, but by then the game is usually at the one-hour mark, and a couple of substitutions can throw the defence into chaos once more. And while everyone is sorting that out up pops Odegaard to score from 35 yards out.
And guess what, none of that mentions Gabriel Martinelli, who maybe isn’t destined for three positions this season, but that doesn’t matter because he has already perfected playing on the wing and as a central goal scorer.
Now what is good about the reporting of this is that the media are actually not only recognising there is something to report other than endless transfers that won’t happen but they are also admitting that it is likely to a) be effective and b) make life difficult for commentators and reporters.
Forwards not making the breakthrough wanted – never mind, put Havertz in the middle running forward.
Now no one could say that last season was one of a rigid formation, but it was one where, as we have noted before, the same players were used quite a lot.
For as we have noticed before Arsenal had two players who played every league game last season (Gabriel and Ramsdale) and seven players who played 30+ games. Now we are likely to be moving over to Manchester City’s approach in which no one plays every game and indeed only three get to play 30+ games.
Arsenal’s tactic this coming season I think will be to give games to more players, to ensure the opposition doesn’t know exactly how the team will play, and to ensure we have ready-made cover for any injuries picked up.
Part of the reason that this works is that it is Havertz’ natural game whereas for Granit Xhaka is was not his game at all. He was a great player for Arsenal, but in a different way, which is why it was not just his age that made it time for him to move on.
And in thinking of these changes I must quote another Telegraph line from today: “Such was the excitement around Arsenal’s pursuit of Mykhailo Mudryk in January, there were many supporters who initially viewed the arrival of Trossard as something of a disappointment.”
Or, in the words of Untold, Arsenal managed to push up the price Chelsea would have to pay for Mudryk by allowing the media to claim Arsenal were interested while all the time they were quietly trying to get Trossard from Brighton at a fraction of the price. Why would Arsenal ever have wanted Mudryk given the side we now have?
Of course Mudryk might well come good and in another season we might be watching him with a spot of envy, but imagine we had bought him last January and spent all that money. The coming season would not look quite so inviting – just as it doesn’t for Chelsea. Trossard to start some games on the left? Why not – it will give Martinelli a break. And can you imagine the impact Marintelli would have coming on, on the hour, just as the defence is getting used to Trossard and starting to get a bit tired.
And besides just think of the lineup we’ll have available for league cup and FA Cup matches with the players that are not being used all the time, getting a run out.
So let us not forget Thomas Partey. The Mirror was utterly certain he was going to Juventus saying, “ It was £45m. Nope. It wasn’t.
There are in fact going to be multiple lineups and even Declan Rice, is not guaranteed to be on at the start of every game. This could be fun.
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