Tierney, Holding, Bellerin: Problem Solvers

Or just easing them a bit?

The relief of Thursday Night Football is quickly swept away by the tidal wave of the Premier League crashes on our shores.

Amy Lawrence in the Athletic observed that we operate in an “unsteady environment…where perceptions seem to mostly exist as either feast or famine”.

As usual, that manifested in overwhelming overstating of the cases for the younger players who performed well. Willock, Saka and Nelson all delivered on the occasions when they were called upon.

Above and beyond? Everyone has a good spell; you’ll find out more about these lads when things are going pear-shaped.

Our issue isn’t the young ‘uns; it’s the older heads and prices will be paid in coming weeks. The problem is that we’ll address the issues on the defensive flanks before the soft centre. Rob Holding is set to return either Sunday or against Forest in the Carabao Cup.

We’ve been cautious with him so far; does another week really matter? One more game. In some senses, yes; Villa at home is followed in the Premier League with a trip to Old Trafford. Do we really want a player making his return from injury in the graveyard of our dreams?

Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin are set to return but after baby steps with the Under-23s last night, that’s still some way off, surely?

Having younger defenders, more athletic than their elders, returning is great for the team. Both Bellerin and Tierney want to make up for lost time; it’s great motivation but like Holding, they aren’t the balm to ease our sores.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles will drop to the bench, covering both full-back and defensive midfield if needed. It’s hard to see where that happens; we’re well-stocked in midfield. Not in that role but we’ve got bodies…

This Tremendous Burden All Alone

Emery knows this or publicly hints at it. He jumped on board the bandwagon which is hurtling toward the Emirates. The one which left tactics in the luggage sitting forlornly on the platform long after departure.

After the win in Germany, the Spaniard told the listening world, “We need to be more competitive and also we need to improve defensively.”

It wasn’t any one player’s fault. he declared and certainly not the “defensive players or the goalkeeper”; it’s down to the whole team. “We need,” he declared, “to be more compact.”

Which is surprisingly succinct for a man whose linguistic skills some decree are the problem.

It’s not that simple, however.

Sometimes we are defending deep, more deep than we want. A lot of shots they are not important, not dangerous for us, but we don’t want to defend those situations deep a lot of times.

Why shots conceded hurts us

Therein is why conceded 300m shots in the past few games is an important statistic. The shots in themselves, the ones which fly high, wide or straight into a defender’s knackers, aren’t important. They are a stat like the body count in an episode of The Wire.

What they signal is we are under pressure, being forced to defend “deep”. Too deep. The ground between defence, midfield and attack becomes strung out, too wide to breach so you cede possession cheaply. In short, we play like junior players learning tactics for the first time.

Unai knows it’s an issue and he knows how to solve the problem:

We need to improve, we need as a team to be more compact and start our pressing a little more ahead, not let the opposition get to our box quickly.

To be resolved on the training ground

Lambs Go To The Slaughter

The question is why this is still a problem. It’s nothing new – it’s a hangover from last season.

As is the lack of leadership on the pitch. While it’s true the majority of our issues will be resolved at London Colney, the experienced players must be braver on the pitch.3

We’re told we can play out from the back if we stop misusing David Luiz. Will he be playing when Holding is fit? Neither the Brazilian or Sokratis is covering themselves in glory this season with their individual errors.

It’s a circular argument in many respects. Drop one because they played badly in this match, drop the other because he played badly in that one. Should we play Mustafi because he’s less accident-prone than the rest?

Well, if I’m going to be that silly, I’m calling it a day for today.

’til Tomorrow.

24 thoughts on “Tierney, Holding, Bellerin: Problem Solvers

  1. Welsh Corgi says:

    Thanks YW for yet another brilliant post. I do like them on the silly side😀.

  2. kenyan gunner says:

    Great post. I wouldn’t write out AWN as a bench warmer just yet. I remember one match under Wenger where he was the man of the match at defensive midfield. Maybe playing defense might improve his game like it did the great German Paul Breitner!

  3. 49' says:

    Great post.
    With AMN claiming he’s still learning how to defend. I’m not sure he’d want to play as a defensive midfielder, maybe centre midfield, where Emery chooses to use Torreira. But of course he would need to cover Hector when he’s match fit as we’ve got no other right back.

  4. C says:

    Good to see Tierney and Bellerin getting 60 odd mins for the U23’s. Will be good to have them back though Tierney will certainly have much more of a fight. Holding and Mustafi will get chances if Sokaritis and Luiz continue on as they have.

    The pressure though has to start in midfield, Torriera must be our DM.

  5. Bill says:

    Great post Yogi

    The number of shots we concede to the other team is a concern but the real problem is obviously the actual number of goals we concede. We are currently on pace to concede 60.8 goals over a 38 game season which is much worse then any season under Arsene Wenger. Watford had scored only 2 goals in their first 4 games before we arrived and they dominated us. We can’t blame Arsene anymore and blaming Xhaka or whomever is the scapegoat of the month is a nothing but a desperate search for an excuse. I have to admit I thought Arsene was the worst big team manager in the world in terms of organizing his teams defense and never in a million years would I have thought the team could get worse after he was sacked. However the numbers don’t lie and Emery is under fire for good reason.

  6. Bill says:


    When we first bought Torriera you said he was going to completely change our team. I remember you said Torriera was so good that his transfer to Arsenal was going to be more influential then Ronaldo’s transfer to Juve. However, Torriera played more then 2000 minutes last season and there was not even a hint of improvement in our defensive solidarity and league passed thru our midfield and we were every bit as vulnerable to counter attacks as we had been during the Wenger years. None of that makes sense if we still believe that Torriera is top quality defensive midfielder. Our defense has been a total disaster since Emery arrived and yet he does not seem to trust Torriera in the DM role you suggest. If you are right about Torriera and Emery is too stupid to recognize that he should be our DM then Emery should be sacked. Something is just not adding up.

  7. C says:


    Mate, your mental. I would NEVER say Torriera coming to Arsenal would be more influential than Ronaldo to Juve. Torriera is quality and he hasn’t been fit since the summer so relax a bit will you. Also, lets talk about the midfield, Xhaka has committed the most errors leading to direct goals, that says a lot but lets also not forget last season was his 1st in the PL coming from Italy so lets see how he does in year 2. I’m sorry but you simply can’t discount things like that, BUT if he shouldn’t be there then why has Yogi and plenty others suggested the same thing I have?!?!

    Personally, I would love to have Ndidi who is probably only behind Rodri, Fernandinho and Kante as the best DM’s in the PL and one of the best in Europe. With that said, Torriera is quality.

  8. Noon Gunner says:

    I see Man City too are struggling to overcome the mighty Watford. Lucky to squeeze 7 goals past them (so far). They’re obviously benefitting from our exposing Watford’s weaknesses last Sunday. Makes you sick, dunnit?

  9. consolsbob says:

    Really jonny?

    Oak with a Belfast sink? Recipe for disaster. Water plus wood, just wrong.


    Today Bobster….I was doing solid oak worktops…..with a Belfast sink……so no time to post.
    I’ve said it before,and I repeat……I live in the fast lane of life

  10. Welsh corgi says:

    Dont care if mancity murdered mighty Watford and there’s miles between us. I had my first boooooooooom ( gotta look on the bright side😉.

  11. jonnygunner says:

    Really jonny?

    Oak with a Belfast sink? Recipe for disaster. Water plus wood, just wrong.


    Today Bobster….I was doing solid oak worktops…..with a Belfast sink……so no time to post.
    I’ve said it before,and I repeat……I live in the fast lane of life

    Yes Bob
    I know you are correct-but that’s what they want(I’ll give it 3 to 4 coats of Danish oil)…….they couldn’t stretch to granite or quartz.Looks a peach though

  12. Bill says:


    Before last season started you did say Torriera to Arsenal > Ronaldo to Juve. The only reason I remember that one was because it did strike me as a heavy dose of hyperbole and may be you believed it at the time.

  13. Bill says:

    The defensive ineptitude has been the thing which has really defined the Emery era to date and unless things change quickly it’s going to be the thing which costs Emery his job. If Torriera is really as good a defensive mid as some of us think then Emery is either remarkably stubborn or not smart enough to recognize the value of his players. If either case is true then he probably needs to be sacked

  14. Paulie Walnuts says:

    I really liked the look of Torreira in his early appearances when he seemed to be able to win the ball & keep things simple.

    However, he doesn’t look the same player at the moment. He’s certainly not being used as he should be but with Xhaka plodding around in DM we’re not getting the best out of him.

    Maybe , given his size we could lift him onto Sokratis’ shoulders to give us an advantage from set plays.

  15. jonnygunner says:


    Yep. Looks good but corian is the way to go.

    No mate-it scratches very badly.
    For me it’s granite all the way-bombproof……..and I’m a registered Corian installer.It looks the part but maintenance is essential or you’ll regret your investment.
    I take it you have Corian Bob?…..and still no bathroom fan!

  16. Dukey says:

    So Man city 8-0 Barcelona.

    Sorry not Barcelona it was Watford. it was us that made Watford look like Barcelona.

  17. jonnygunner says:

    I’m no fan of bathrooms either.

    It’s how Bob and I sometimes chat…..and you’ll find a Belfast sink in a kitchen Dukey

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