Power Vacuums and Error-Prone Defenders

The running of the club is under question now the transfer window is over. Sven Mislintat left yesterday so there’s a natural concern about future recruitment. Ivan’s departure left a power vacuum which I remained concerned that Henry hasn’t filled.

Names in the frame to fill the technical director role are Monchi and Marc Overmars. The sooner they are appointed, the sooner we can find out what a technical director actually does. We presume it’s taking over Sven’s role but we don’t know what Raul has in mind. Wait and see is the game to play rather than creating a crisis. We’ve got one of them on the pitch so off-the-pitch is a relatively low priority.

I know off-the-field dramas – gee, thanks Ivan – affect the on-the-pitch efforts but we’re in danger of blowing this out of proportion. Now Sven is gone, I’d expect a reasonably quick decision on his successor. There will be some impact on identifying summer targets but before we adopt a ‘Chicken Little’ mentality, can we adopt a bit of patience?

Obviously not.

The interesting or more pertinently, relevant issue is the Europa League squad. The ‘A’ List was updated yesterday which highlighted the structure of our squad. Before going on, the ‘B’ List is where the youth players are located.

However, the ‘A’ List is the Ronseal of UEFA competition; it does what it says and has your 25-man first team squad. Or in our case, 24-man squad because we only have seven homegrown players over the age of 21. As a result of not reaching the required limit of eight, we have to lop one off our allotted number of 25.

25-1-3

Further investigation shows Bellerin, Welbeck and Holding are included in the 24. So effectively, we’re looking at a 21-man ‘A’ List. And yes, that includes Shkodran Mustafi.

There are all sorts of trade-offs here. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is on the ‘B’ List, as well as the likes of Willock and Nketiah. Fringe members of the squad and those whose members comprise the majority of the bench.

One name missing was Dinos Mavropanos. Ineligible for the ‘B’ List – he hasn’t been at Arsenal for two consecutive years – he was omitted from the ‘A’ List. Ornstein said on the Arsecast that there were question marks over the player, that he was prone to errors and nervousness. Not surprising if you consider his partner would likely be Mustafi. He makes us nervous so goodness knows how his team-mates react to the German on the pitch.

Does that mean Mavropanos is not trusted? Not in that sense; he’s likely viewed as untested and not ready for the unforgiving arena that is the Premier League. Don’t forget, he’s made just 24 career appearances. As we saw with Rob Holding, playing regularly improves players and breeds confidence.

Or makes them error-prone with a devil-may-care attitude.

It’s a little of the devil and deep blue sea with the pair. Do you prefer experience but error-prone or talented, raw and error-prone? We’ve got enough defensive problems as it is and in such a febrile atmosphere – on line, at least, and players that young tend to be heavily involved in their own social media accounts – is it wise to expose the youngster?

None of our defenders is perfect but Sokratis and Koscielny are the ones you want in situ to bring through youngsters in a back four or three. Why let someone with bad habits and ill-discipline influence a novice?

The Homegrown Garden is Threadbare

The issue highlights the change we need in our scouting of players. Reports before the January window suggested Mislintat found English/Homegrown players horrendously overpriced. Yet, we find out European squad decimated, do we need to look at the lower-placed Premier League clubs.

Finding gems in the Championship is hard and expensive. It’s not much cheaper in the top-flight either; Bournemouth’s David Brooks is quoted as a £50m player which even allowing for hyperbole is an lunatic price for an £11.5m signing last summer. It’s the market situation which many predicted when the homegrown was first brought in and nothing has changed to prove them wrong.

This is all to do with transition, of course. The move to replace Wenger and revolutionise the club was never going to be smooth – this is Arsenal – with these off-the-field issues the manifestation of that.

While we shouldn’t dismiss them as the issues inevitably filter to on-the-pitch to some degree, they shouldn’t take over from on-the-pitch. To some extent, I’m tired of these shenanighans as I am of talking heads on Brexit; it seems a bit headless chickens at the moment, for which a fair bit can be laid at the feet of Ivan Gazidis. He started a process and didn’t see it through.

Settled times will come; Wenger hasn’t been gone a year yet so we are moving from an all-pervading power to becoming a dynamic organisation. It takes time and there will be hiccups but let’s not blow every issue out of proportion. Sven is a scout. A good one, but a scout. Good scouts aren’t ten-a-penny but they aren’t as rare as unicorn crap either.

A bit of patience if you can.

’til Tomorrow.

22 thoughts on “Power Vacuums and Error-Prone Defenders

  1. Paul says:

    “Prone to errors and nervousness.”

    Sounds like it could apply to every human being ever born.

  2. buckagh says:

    Jonnygunner,
    Let’s up the bar here, Jonnygunner. You’ve got to demonstrate you’ve read the post or it doesn’t count🤔😁

  3. thrillbo says:

    Thanks for the post YW!

    Paul,
    Sure everyone has capacity for nerves and errors. But not everyone makes those silly errors do they? Some people are born with ability to cope with this, deal with the pressure and actually come out on top. Someone like Lacazette. He got booked for diving and instead of wanking around complaining, he got pissed, took it straight down the throat and scored a bulldog goal. I have seen Guendo making strides too. He got kicked to pieces against cardiff but stayed physically and mentally strong.

    We need a team of people who actually come together and rise up to the occasion, instead of individuals who choke individually under pressure.

    Thanks for the chuckle bro compilation, man that was something else. Have always wondered about Bould. He is just sitting there watching our D walk around like naked chickens, season after season.

    Finally, RE suarez signing. Sure we need to give the lad a chance but can you blame the fanbase for being upset? Did wenger call up emery and say “hey Unai forget the defense, forget any kind of midfield cover. You see this rejected little man from barca? Lets sign him up”. Oh brilliant idea wenger, never seen that before!

    It’s like the whole sees arsenal in one light and then the coaching staff and management see something else. The signing of Lucas Torreira should have shown arsenal staff what we need. The league recognizes his ability to break up play and harrass. the fans bloody love him runnign around making tackles, playing defense. I’ve heard some of the loudest cheers at the emirates when Lucas makes a snappy tackle. Yet here we go dropping tens of millions on another midfield ballerina. I hope to be proven wrong by Suarez but wont be surprised if he gets roughed around in the EPL

  4. Pete the Thirst says:

    Never before have Scouts and Executives had such a profile.

    The amount of guff coming from Gazidis’ PR team before he left was phenomenal. People were upset that he was leaving. Now we can see the amount of sh!t he has left the Club in the sentiment has shifted.

    Mislintat had some hits in Guendouzi and Torreira. Misses with Micky & Lichtsteiner. PEA was hardly an unknown. He went heavy into Dortmund, which he knew well. Scouts work in the shadows, but this guy liked the limelight. Who really knows if he was doing a great job? Can somebody else do a similar job…undoubtedly.

  5. Pete the Thirst says:

    thrillbo,

    Suarez deserves a chance…but when he came on against City my first thought was ‘He’s not going to cut the mustard’. We’ll see, but there’s a reason we took him on loan.

  6. thrillbo says:

    Pete the Thirst,

    Totally agree and I will be giving him time before passing judgement… However if you allow me to judge a book by it’s cover, the cover of the book is a little worrying. When we signed Torreira we read the book cover and we knew he liked to tackle, play defense, exactly what we needed in midfield. Now have to watch another lightweight CAM ballerina come to grips with the EPL. Lets hope he is more DeBruyne then Mkhitaryan!

  7. Jonnygunner says:

    buckagh:
    Jonnygunner,
    Let’s up the bar here, Jonnygunner. You’ve got to demonstrate you’ve read the post or it doesn’t count

    I refuse to bow to your stringent demands…it has to come from YW himself….so don’t change the goalposts….see what I did there.
    Or get your act together 😂😂

  8. thrillbo says:

    Here is what I just dont get guys… Every week we come up against well drilled opposition. Sure occasionally we jsut over power teams, but we always see good shape, good line, no nonsense defending. It seems like the lower teams in EPL have these no name, no nonsense english lads and they seem so sturdy and reliable. It all seems so _simple_ to my naked american eye. How come our defense isnt like that? we have bouldy, one of the kings of stinge, a classic CB. Yet each week we roll out these international CBs that so error prone and commit such basic errors.

    So many times over the years we have had ‘lesser’ teams play us, set up shop and play solid D. They occasionally win, and often come away with a draw. We NEVER have games like that, where we look like we are eliminating all offensive threats. With us, the other team can just wait till our fullbacks are way out of position, recover the ball, and make one or team simple, long passes, and BOOM they are in behind mustafi.

  9. ferkov says:

    thrillbo,

    Always put down to Wengerian philosophy of, however patently better the opposition are than you, show no mental fear. Attttttaaaaaack.
    The domain of the indefatigably arrogant.
    He did it a couple of times and surprised everyone, by getting results. Then ditched the whole idea again.
    That’s the player type we’ve got, and mentality Emery simply has to shake out of them.
    Defence is for losers.

  10. thrillbo says:

    ferkov,

    You are probably right, but it just seem idiotic to me. Look at the league table… The best defenses are up at the top of the table. We have allowed 21 more goals then pool, 16 more then city, and are about 10 goals worse then chelski and spuds. Our offense is closer, 4th most goals (51 total), city is an anomaly with 66 goals, we are right up there with pool (56) / spuds (51) / chelski (46).

    Honestly if we keep our offense at this level and can improve our backline just a tad we are catapulting ourselves into the upper echelons of the league. However we have been saying it for years now. Until we can consistently show up and perform, particularly in the big matches, we will always be second tier in EPL.

  11. Blue Yonder says:

    We frequently hear about playing attacking football but what exactly does that look like? I just happened to catch an Arsenal game from a few years back, a team comprising Bendtner, Podolski, Vela, Fabianski, a young(er) Mert and so on. They moved the ball far more quickly than I have seen for several seasons; their transition for defence was quicker and, because of that, they inevitably found players in space and thus continued to press the other defence. And pressure in the box was answered by a quick boot rather than trying to move out with tricky passes. And this, from an era when we weren’t winning anything and the fans were unhappy. Compare that to today, even under Emery, when everything seems to done in slow motion.

  12. Blue Yonder says:

    For years now, lower teams have stymied Arsenal by putting up a wall which Arsenal were seldom able to pierce. (They also didn’t have the chuckle bros in the wall but that’s another story.) When we are up against someone like City, why not adopt something similar? It may not be in the Arsenal canon but it’s better than being cannon-fodder. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that.)

  13. thrillbo says:

    Blue Yonder,

    To be fair, you have to look at the way City play and admire it. They have perfected the wengerball style of play and the end result of the tippy tappy is a decisive through ball leading to an open goal tap in. They implement the ball retention, the short passing, a couple of magician CAMs etc and pull it off brilliantly.

    I do recall a brilliant game from Santi & Coq back in the early 2010s against city. We actually set up to defend and looked the better team beating them 2-1. I think it was an away match too, the type of cold winter match where we usually get torn to shreds. Santi had a couple brilliant runs in that one. Point is, it’s possible to shut down Aguero, Silva and Co. The team needs to be prepared to battle and this squad wasnt on Sunday. From the off last week there was never a moment it felt we could really win.

  14. ferkov says:

    thrillbo,

    Exactly The game I was referring to when Mr Wenger put his sword away and adopted the shield. Clearly hated himself for it, as it was The exception that proved the Rule. Which in a way was even more galling than leaving us thinking he just Couldn’t do it.

  15. thrillbo says:

    Good analogy. Everyone wants to be a backflipping-ninja-kicking-badass tearing people to shreds in a beautiful dance , almost like art. But sometimes a big ugly carrying a hunk of iron is what is necessary for the day.

  16. MikeSA says:

    ferkov:
    thrillbo,

    Exactly The game I was referring to when Mr Wenger put his sword away and adopted the shield.Clearly hated himself for it, as it was The exception that proved the Rule. Which in a way was even more galling than leaving us thinking he just Couldn’t do it.

    It came out in interviews after that game that the players had basically put their foot down and insisted that we play that way.

    Wenger didn’t like it but he didn’t have much option at the time.

    He liked it even less when it worked perfectly, and even more so when it came out it was basically the players’ doing.

    It wasn’t long before he “reasserted his authority” and fucked it all up again.

    His ego was the problem, like it was when Bould started, and when Keown assisted in the 2006 ECL run.

  17. MikeSA says:

    I think the point to take from that game is that almost any defensive personnel at that level can be coached (by coaches, that’s what they do, coach, the clue is in the title – for those who seem to think a coach’s job is to lounge around, shout at people for no particular purpose, put the cones out, and be their buddies when they run around), and organised, just like someone mentioned earlier.

    It’s not about “English Lads” or anything like that (most of them aren’t English anyway – English players are too expensive for poorer teams – caveat, unless they’re quite shit players), it’s purely about being coached (that word again), as individuals and as a unit.

    We have better players than most of those poorer sides, even in defence.

    Elements of this group of defenders, with the same “mentality”, achieved what they did in that game against Citeh, so I do not buy the “oh we just have shit defenders” line.

    They can be coached and drilled.

    GG did it.

    Others teams do it.

    Why don’t we?

    I saw a comment elsewhere harking on the Emery claim the he’d rather win 4-3 than 1-0.

    There was a response that said that winning 4-3 was not sustainable.

    I guess that’s true, but losing 1-3 isn’t sustainable either, and we’re nowhere near being able to score the other 3 goals at the moment, based on our absolutely shit attacking “play” recently.

  18. lari03 says:

    One thing we can expect is that the summer transfer window will be very active for Arsenal.

  19. thrillbo says:

    Good thoughts MikeSA, I didnt know some of those details. You are getting exactly at my point, we come up against well drilled opposition almost every week. Then you watch our backline and only a handful of them seem to actually enjoy defending. I would say Sokratis has been the most solid & professional defender this season. No-nonsense defending I would say. The best defenders make good decisions and everything looks so natural and obvious. Then you look at our defense and see mayhem, poor spacing, organization etc.. Ugh. There is still hope Emery needs more time to keep building (3 years i’d say).

  20. Dalm says:

    Our squad is mostly internationals, mostly exceptionally well paid….and in 6 months have seemed unable to learn/understand/deliver (delete as appropriate) what the coach wants.
    As fans we cannot see a plan

    We can see glaring gaps that weren’t addressed in any meaningful way

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