by Tony Attwood
“It feels like a new club,” said Héctor Bellerín in a recent interview. And I am sure he is right in many respects. Obviously I’m not there with the players, but Héctor comes across as a very intelligent and deep thinking young man and I can’t imagining saying that if he didn’t feel it.
And of course this is what one expects. Arsenal’s last two seasons under Mr Wenger were poor compared with the 20 years of his reign before that where he kept Arsenal in the top four, won three League titles and an all time record number of FA Cups for the club and himself.
Mind you, those last two seasons were pretty damn good when compared with the two years before he took control.
In the last two Wenger years, despite playing four games fewer per season Arsenal won more games than in four seasons before he arrived. Arsenal also scored many, many, many more goals than in the four seasons before he arrived.
Yes the defence was worse, but the best goal difference came under Wenger and the final Wenger year was only beaten once in those earlier seasons in terms of superior goal difference.
In fact what happened in the last two years under Wenger was that we sank backwards by dropping out of the top four which was where Wenger had kept the club for all those years. Indeed as I have tried to ask before, what would you sooner have – coming fifth scoring 77 goals (2016/17) or scoring 49 goals (1995/6).
The problem with Wenger’s results in recent years is that they were being compared not with what any other manager could do at the club but rather with what he himself had done at the club.
Now we are in new territory, which is probably why the media’s little “10 things to look out for this weekend” articles churned out on a regular basis as often as not do not contain any mention of Arsenal in any of those things to look out for.
Even though another win would be ten in a row if you include the Checkatrade and league cup. Nine if you leave out the Checkatrade Trophy match. Although that means leaving out another Smith Rowe goal.
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Interestingly the Guardian didn’t have anything to say about Arsenal in its 10 things last weekend either, and yet they could have said look out for Arsenal’s continuing unbeaten run. The last time they did feature Arsenal in the column – which takes us right back to Newcastle away – they said, “Arsenal are frail at the back and Benítez should not forget that his side won this fixture last season.” Probably not an “analysis” (I use the word lightly) that they want to have remembered.
To be fair there is a match report of last night – very hidden away of course because they don’t really want people to read it – and they said, “for all the positives there is still something inescapably incoherent about the way they are playing. They get going in fits and starts, and defensively remain unconvincing enough to routinely give their opponents a bunch of clear chances every match. Qarabag were not short of opportunities.”
“Fits and starts” seems a very odd way to describe the club’s current run. But a little more insight could see it described as being adjustment. They are trying out one approach, and then if that is not getting the goal, trying out another. That is called creative adjustment. The opposite is always doing the same old same old thing, whether it works or not. To the media men desperately trying to knock the side, it is all very confusing.
So starting with a back three and going to a back four was considered to be “muddled thinking,” uncertainty over what the best approach is, a lack of clarity. What it could instead be seen as, is drawing conclusions from having seen videos of the opposition, but then, finding that they were changing their approach, Arsenal changed theirs.
And the selection of Smith Rowe could always be considered “inspired”. But I fear you will have to search a lot of pages to find that viewpoint. The Telegraph for example suggested the Arsenal team were “performing as though they thought the assignment was beneath them.”
We shall see as we approach the next game. And the next. And the next.
- Arsenal’s 3 most utterly useless players at Qarabag; they should all go now
- Tottenham complain about fixtures, but Arsenal have it worse. And Barce have no cash.
- Arsenal v Tottenham: the injuries and 10 years results under 3 different managers
- Football’s new world order – not spending everything you don’t have
- Arteta: out of his depth or radical and revolutionary tactician?
- Arsenal beat Wimbledon in style, and finally the club sort out security
- Arsenal v Wimbledon: the proposed team and the issue of Xhaka