By Bulldog Drummond
- Arsenal v Manchester United: the tackles, the fouls and the yellow cards
- Arsenal v Manchester United. On home / away form we are clear favourites.
Because Untold is based in the East Midlands and because of the kick off time of today’s game we’ve just got time for one more article before we head south.
And what is getting us rather excited here is that just as it was the figures for tackling that made us think there was a revolution going on in the first third of 2020/21, so it is the figures for the way we attack that makes us think that there’s now a second revolution happening.
But we also remember that when the radical change in tackling was made, so Arsenal sank to 15th in the League, it seems that Arteta has been doing everything to try and keep Arsenal in the top four while making the current radical changes.
Certainly, during the reworking of the defence, all the commentary was negative and there was talk of Arteta being sacked, but in the last two-thirds of that season we were (as you will have read so many times before) the second-best team in the league.
In this revolution, just as the defence were the key players, now this time, it is Ødegaard who is now creating more chances than any other player. Indeed as the Telegraph has pointed out in its review, “When he is able to perform at his best, he kneads the game to his will and sets the tone for his side. In recent months he has also produced a series of match-defining moments for Arsenal, many of which have encapsulated his influence on the team.”
But I think, just as with the early stages of the “cut tackling” programme, it takes the rest of the squad a while to get used to the revolution – hence the erratic results.
In fact what we have got here is something that Ødegaard learned at Real Madrid – something that is drilled into all their players: scanning. It was also something that Arsene Wenger was very keen on and which he managed to get his title-winning teams to do. You can see it if you go back and look at videos of those games.
What Ødegaard does is forget the ball and instead look for the space – which is what you see time and again in the videos of Wenger’s glory years. Indeed it was what Henry did by playing on the wing. He wanted space to get the ball and run at the defence.
Of course, these are early days of the second Artetan revolution, both for Ødegaard and the team around him, but what is making this work already is the Ødegaard-Saka connection. And I suspect that as Martinelli and Smith Rowe grow in stature and assuredness similar connections will be built there. But for the moment it is Ødegaard drifting right and Saka drifting inside.
And so having predicted how we will play the issue is who will play.
The Evening Standard yesterday did its strange new thing of running a headline saying “predicted lineup” and then only giving the prediction for the opposition. Of course, there is no telling whether they will have changed that by the time you read this.
Sports Mole are more reliable however and offer
White, Holding, Gabriel, Tavares;
Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe;
PainintheArsenal annoyingly spread their prediction across several pages in order to increase their number of page hits, but the essence of it all is,
Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tavares;
Elneny, Xhaka, Odegaard
Saka, Nketiah, Smith Rowe;
That counters to some degree what we have been talking about in these preview articles, but it does still allow Odegaard to play in front of Elneny and Xhaka and fulfil his new funciton.
White, Holding, Gabriel, Tavares;
Xhaka, Elneny, Odegaard
Saka, Nketiah, Smith Rowe
which is much the same as the Pain, although with Xhaka and Elneny changing places.
So that’s about it. We shall, as they say, see.
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- Partey setback, AFC man hauled off, new C Ronaldo signing, Arteta desperate