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Arsenal, Pt. X: Boom-Xhaka-Laca!

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5 hours ago, kempus said:

Arsenals midfield was so off the pace yesterday, it was mind boggling. The Aubameyang money could have been better spent on an elite CM, perhaps?

Been that way for longer than I can remember. They need reinforcements defensively and in midfield. The midfield doesn't defend or distribute the ball well enough. Compared to the dynamism of Dembele and Eriksen the problem is highlighted even more. 

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9 hours ago, kempus said:

Arsenals midfield was so off the pace yesterday, it was mind boggling. The Aubameyang money could have been better spent on an elite CM, perhaps?

No elite CMs available in January. We should sign at least one CM in the summer though. Ramsey and Wilshere need to sign new contracts, Xhaka has been a flop, and Elneny is a squad player. 

Need a CB and GK too. We have plenty of money to spend (still made profit after the Aubameyang signing) so there's no excuses.

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4 hours ago, marky mark said:

No elite CMs available in January. We should sign at least one CM in the summer though. Ramsey and Wilshere need to sign new contracts, Xhaka has been a flop, and Elneny is a squad player. 

Need a CB and GK too. We have plenty of money to spend (still made profit after the Aubameyang signing) so there's no excuses.

You're probably right. Arsenal look like they need a serious make over, though.

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20 hours ago, kempus said:

Arsenals midfield was so off the pace yesterday, it was mind boggling. The Aubameyang money could have been better spent on an elite CM, perhaps?

Arsene's incessant need to keep Xhaka on even when Elneny is clearly outplaying him is baffling.  It also doesn't help that Arsene is plainly the wrong manager for someone like Xhaka - who had to be handled very, very heavy-handed at Monchengladbach (they would literally bring training to a halt multiple times per session to instruct Xhaka that he needed to be positioned 20 cm to the left or right and you legitimately have to drive that into his head and muscle memory.  Arsene's "laissez faire" approach is just begging for the exact kind of headless chicken performances we regularly get out of Granit.

Bellerin also, it's pretty clear to me now, lacks the ability to handle adjustment in tactics of the side as a whole or really awareness of what the others around him are doing.  Once Elneny (who had pretty clearly been tasked with taking the same approach we had issued him against Chelsea - one of the few instances where Arsene actually deploys an out-and-out defensive midfielder, which otherwise hasn't been a staple of Wengerball since Gilberto was an Arsenal player) was taken off, he was still playing like there was a player occupying that space in front of the back line and swinging over to cover his deeper runs up the flanks... which there wasn't.  I've held for a while now that he (Hector) lacks a defender's mentality - he just plainly doesn't have it and I'm fairly confident never will - so this is just another tick in the "I won't mind if we sell him and bring in a proper RB (who... I don't know... can adequately cross the ball) this summer" column for me.

Ultimately, and particularly in the second half, this side just lacked spine - in both the tactical and attitude senses - yesterday.  Once your guys saw that we were content to both let you have the ball and weren't going to get stuck in in response to being played physical against, it was all over and you lot knew you could get away with whatever you wanted to.

Ultimately though, buying another CM wouldn't have made a lick of difference unless it was the uber elite sort in the mold of a Kante (of which there are incredibly few... let alone ones that are available), because Arsene simply isn't going to regularly play a traditional DM and hasn't in more than a decade.  The side was missing Ramsey something fierce yesterday for his engine and heat map alone.  At this point, one of either him or Mkhitaryan need to be on the pitch at all times or else the side resorts to "get it to Mesut and let him pass us open" mode, as they just plain don't seem to grasp the concept of movement without the ball.  Admittedly, we need a midfielder far better at winning the ball than what we've currently got (Santi was underrated in that regard, Arteta had a knack in that regard but he could get outmuscled easily and lacked sufficient pace; Coquelin was our best at it and even he was far too crude in his approach; I think there's potential for this in Maitland-Niles, but it's too early to anoint him or even believe he'll see minutes there), but that's not going to be someone who primarily sits in front of the back-line, but rather someone who can do it while pressing up and closer to the half-line.  But as you pointed out in the EPL thread, when Dembele is on his day, which he was yesterday, he's by-and-large unplayable.

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Good point about Bellerin. I was shocked at how easy Son was roasting him with a couple of step overs. He looked completely lost. Son is a hard player to mark, but I've rarely seen him have it so easy this season. 

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5 minutes ago, kempus said:

Good point about Bellerin. I was shocked at how easy Son was roasting him with a couple of step overs. He looked completely lost. Son is a hard player to mark, but I've rarely seen him have it so easy this season. 

Bellerin's not a defender.  He's a wingback, at best, and honestly probably more natural winger (save that he can't cross well) than that.  Take for instance (and I'm not saying it would have been legal but...) that instance where Kane stuck out his hind-quarters and hip as Bellerin was coming into him, to create space and to tentatively feel for an opportunity to draw a foul.  A player with a defender's mentality would have cleaned him out (made a play at the ball in the process, but at the very least would have come in hard on a hip-to-hip tackle... it's the opponent's leading scorer and target man, traditional defenders give him something to think about there), Hector just comes in so tentatively.  The only aggression I ever see from him in defense is when he's clearly beaten and trying to make up for being beaten... and it usually results in a hasty tackle and booking.

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11 hours ago, kempus said:

Good point about Bellerin. I was shocked at how easy Son was roasting him with a couple of step overs. He looked completely lost. Son is a hard player to mark, but I've rarely seen him have it so easy this season. 

Bellerin is kind of asked to perform a near impossible task of having the entire wing to himself as a RB. Ozil is his right wing, but he drifts all over the field to create. We don't have central midfielders who drift wide to help out, so Bellerin is flying up and down the wing all game long. He essentially has to play wingback but without the positional cover that a wider RCB would provide him.

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 I actually thought Bellerin did a decent job against Son. He was our best defender against Spurs. He's been quite good defensively this season.

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2 hours ago, marky mark said:

 I actually thought Bellerin did a decent job against Son. He was our best defender against Spurs. He's been quite good defensively this season.

You and I have very different definitions of "defensively" then.  Which I don't suppose is not to be expected considering I played defense.  Hector hasn't been aggressive in defense since the Alonso elbow knocked him out cold - not sure if that's him "preserving his body" for the World Cup/move to a bigger club or if it's actually something that's impacting his psyche.

At some point people actually have to allow the players to be responsible for making tactical decisions on their own that don't have logical sense.  If folks are going to hang Xhaka (and Ramsey) for not covering Bellerin's runs up the flank, you also have to hang Bellerin for continuing to make those runs after seeing, several times over per match, that he's not getting that cover.  His primary job as a defenseman is to defend and he seemed to very often forget that; or else he's gotten entirely overconfident in the ability of his recovery speed to make up the difference, at which point he's guilty of discounting the fact that other sides have very pacy players, too, and that they tend to play said players on the wings.

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17 minutes ago, The LBC said:

You and I have very different definitions of "defensively" then.  Which I don't suppose is not to be expected considering I played defense.  Hector hasn't been aggressive in defense since the Alonso elbow knocked him out cold - not sure if that's him "preserving his body" for the World Cup/move to a bigger club or if it's actually something that's impacting his psyche.

At some point people actually have to allow the players to be responsible for making tactical decisions on their own that don't have logical sense.  If folks are going to hang Xhaka (and Ramsey) for not covering Bellerin's runs up the flank, you also have to hang Bellerin for continuing to make those runs after seeing, several times over per match, that he's not getting that cover.  His primary job as a defenseman is to defend and he seemed to very often forget that; or else he's gotten entirely overconfident in the ability of his recovery speed to make up the difference, at which point he's guilty of discounting the fact that other sides have very pacy players, too, and that they tend to play said players on the wings.

See I disagree. His primary job is not a defenseman. Modern fullbacks, particularly those for attacking teams such as Arsenal are almost wings first and defenders later.

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We're simultaneously asking Bellerin to be the sole provider of width on the right side while also demanding he defend the flank on his own without help from either the wingers or central midfielders. That's not on him, that's just very basic defensive organization/planning from is being neglected by Wenger. Hard to say he's "forgetting" that he's a defender first when it's not clear at all that's what his actual instructions are... and let's be real, to the extent he's getting any instruction at all it's very hard to imagine with the way this team plays/sets up that Wenger is explicitly telling him to ignore his attacking responsibilities in favor of being more conservative/defensive because this would be a very different looking team if that's how we actually set up. 

Edited by BaltimoreTerp

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16 minutes ago, rcon14 said:

See I disagree. His primary job is not a defenseman. Modern fullbacks, particularly those for attacking teams such as Arsenal are almost wings first and defenders later.

Not the case.   Sorry, but if you're going to talk "modern fullbacks" you can't just cut your sample size off at the top 10% of clubs.  A good many modern fullbacks are defend-first fullbacks.  Furthermore, modern "wingbacks," on the clubs that actually deploy such positions, play in systems where there is either a set holding/ball-winning midfielder who primarily sits in front of the back line and rotates in to fill space left by the wingback when they maraud forward... that's not and hasn't been Wengerball for more than a decade.  Otherwise, you're suggesting that Wenger believes that three CB's and a GK are all that are needed on a defense that doesn't - unless specially-instructed - press the opposition ahead of the final third.  That (3 defenders and a GK), flies in the face of the entire premise of zonal marking.

Regardless, when the other wingback is not a defensive-minded or converted-from-defense player (as hasn't consistently been the case with the wingback's playing opposite Bellerin since late last season when Monreal was being deployed as a wingback in front of a back three of Kos/Mustafi/Holding), there's an inherent responsibility of the wingback who was actually previously a fullback to not maraud forward nearly as much, especially if there's been a demonstrated case from the rest of side that he's not getting the cover necessary to allow him that without exposing the back 3.

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6 hours ago, The LBC said:

Not the case.   Sorry, but if you're going to talk "modern fullbacks" you can't just cut your sample size off at the top 10% of clubs.  A good many modern fullbacks are defend-first fullbacks.  Furthermore, modern "wingbacks," on the clubs that actually deploy such positions, play in systems where there is either a set holding/ball-winning midfielder who primarily sits in front of the back line and rotates in to fill space left by the wingback when they maraud forward... that's not and hasn't been Wengerball for more than a decade.  Otherwise, you're suggesting that Wenger believes that three CB's and a GK are all that are needed on a defense that doesn't - unless specially-instructed - press the opposition ahead of the final third.  That (3 defenders and a GK), flies in the face of the entire premise of zonal marking.

Regardless, when the other wingback is not a defensive-minded or converted-from-defense player (as hasn't consistently been the case with the wingback's playing opposite Bellerin since late last season when Monreal was being deployed as a wingback in front of a back three of Kos/Mustafi/Holding), there's an inherent responsibility of the wingback who was actually previously a fullback to not maraud forward nearly as much, especially if there's been a demonstrated case from the rest of side that he's not getting the cover necessary to allow him that without exposing the back 3.

I think you've identified the crux of the problem. Bellerin can't have to be the only provider of width on an entire side of the field and simultaneously defend like a proper fullback. That's not Bellerin's fault though. That's a setup problem.

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Can't even get the team motivated or prepared for a cup final it's incredible to think anyone still sees Wenger as the leader this club needs.

Not that I expected a win today but that performance was so incredibly meek and pathetic.

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