Sometimes you see something which makes you sit back and admire the passage of play. It’s helped by the Irish sitting back and steadfastly refusing to tackle, but the range of passing and control is admirable in its’ quality. The biggest impact is that this is Wales, for god’s sake.
It’s the stuff Unai Emery dreams of seeing Arsenal play. At the moment, we’re so skitterish and jittery that we’d have probably lost overhit a pass or miscontrolled the ball.
Emery’s arrival was touched on by Hector Bellerin in his Times interview:
“It feels like a new club.
“We have so many new staff. It’s a shame for those who have gone, and I am grateful to them all. Some had been at the club for many years. But you can understand why a new person would like to put their own stamp on the club.”
One who remains is Steve Bould and despite the centre-backs diminished standing in supporters’ eyes after his spell as Arsène’s sidekick, Bellerin is full of praise for him.
“I learnt a huge amount from Steve Bould about positioning and tactics. He is a great coach.”
It’s interesting that Bellerin describes Arsenal under Emery as being a “new club”. Life, by inference, became too familiar for the players; too comfortable, and like an old pair of slippers, undemanding. A new head coach and staff bring a freshness which was not evident beforehand.
Had Arsène refreshed his staff on a regular basis, results might have been different. One of Alex Ferguson’s strengths was the arrival of new staff – either Nº 2 or coaches – to keep ideas fresh. Would things have turned out differently for Wenger? There’s no guarantee.
Carry on Regardless
Football is divided on this one. Some like Ferguson find it to be part and parcel of success but equally others, such as Guardiola, bring their staff with them wherever they lay their hats. Arsène’s loyalty to the coaches can’t be questioned but the relationship, on whether views are listened to and taken on-board, is another matter.
There are distinct changes according to the Spaniard.
“With Arsène, he wanted us to play in the same way regardless of the opponents. The idea was that we could play in our way and beat anyone.
“But Emery is very focused on preparing a plan for our next opponents, whoever they may be. It is very detailed and very professional. The next few months are going to be very exciting for all of us. We will reach a higher level.”
That school of thought suited Arsène when he had the players to bulldoze through opponents but once we found ourselves fielding mere mortals, we needed more subtlety and tactical nous. We didn’t show that hence the repetition of the same mistakes individually and in the manner of defeat.
Now we’re in a different era and with an alternative outlook on football, how it should be played, and which type of player best suits it. Bellerin’s take on the current situation is probably the widely-held view within the squad:
“I am impressed with Emery. We lost our first two games but we were very close both times. After the match, the players could feel that things were coming together.”
There are still decisions to be taken on some of the players. Those whose contracts expire next summer naturally merit the more immediate attention. Aaron Ramsey’s situation is well-discussed but Danny Welbeck is largely skidding below the radar.
Sometimes Hard Work Isn’t Enough
It’s hard to see Welbz claiming a starting line-up place on merit. That’s not to say he doesn’t work hard, simply that compared to Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan, for example, he’s not going to be pencilled in on the left. Nor in the centre ahead of Lacazette.
The only reason to be irked is his contract. Welbz could fetch £10-15m in a normal summer which we know is a valuable sum for the transfer budget. The prospects of us realising that sum dim in every passing month.
He’s laid-back about his situation:
“Obviously, I started a bit late, coming back from the World Cup and then getting back to pre-season a bit later than others. But a lot of people have been through that.
“Whenever I get on the pitch, I’ve trained hard, I’m just going to give it my all and try to stake a place.”
Indeed. No mention of winning a new deal or wanting one either. I’d guess we’ll try and cash in during the January window if not renewing his contract is the endgame. Something is better than nothing.