Expectations: a sideways view
Today I want to take a different perspective, to take stock of where we were as Arsenal after the first year of the Premier League and through the second. Because Arsenal are different to all other English teams in many ways. How so? And was the Premier League likely to change that?
Arsenal were innovators, led by the astonishing Herbert Chapman. Floodlights, physiotherapy, training techniques, the WM formation, European competition, an impressive stadium, and numbered shirts were all areas that he championed. Football always had its dodgy elements, but he believed in sporting values, the Arsenal way. He did have a reputation for subterfuge when it came to transfer dealings however, famously getting a rival board of directors drunk before finagling a deal in his favour.
WM: Today's formations are just variants
Arsenal equals class
Footballers can always come back to Arsenal for medical treatment, for example and in general we have a good reputation regarding ex-players. Arsenal are classy, as was Mr Chapman, reflected in the famed marble halls that adorned the inside of the ground.
In the period I have been writing about, though, they were also known as mean, reluctant to pay high wages or big transfers. And, as I pointed out here, this was reflected in our trophy cabinet until George Graham arrived. We were mostly pretty average from 1953 until now. Now, we had 2 league titles, 2 league cups and one FA cup between 1989 and 1993. Better than anyone else, even though we still weren’t splashing cash like crazy, George Graham had assembled a top team who were better drilled than any other. But the backpass rule change made its difference. Now, he would have to figure out a way around it. I figured he would but he was soon to blow up his time at Arsenal with the infamous bung scandal, however I will leave the details of that to a future blog.
We didn't allow bungs
I will say that bungs were normal in English football, with many famous managers collecting underhand payments from the transfer market. Only Arsenal, though, would never forgive, and George Graham will probably never get the statue he deserves. He had finally made us the best team in the land and it had all gone wrong. He had gone against Arsenal values and paid the price.
And so to the Premier league. What was the difference here? Far bigger money for the big clubs, for sure. Manchester United, Spurs, Chelsea, Man City, Newcastle, Leeds and other big clubs had been relegated, sometimes more than once, in the time I have been writing about. Since then not so much. It is getting harder to see that happening except for Newcastle style bad administration. The balance had been tilted in favour of clubs with money and Arsenal had money. Would they now spend it? At this point, it was hard to say. Up to now Graham had splashed the cash for Ian Wright at 2.5 million but in general between buying and selling not a lot was spent. He was like Wenger, he had an idea of the player he wanted and didn’t like wasting money.
We didn't like spending
Manchester United and Liverpool were never afraid of spending money. Blackburn had come up from the championship and would pay big money to become competitive. I, and other Arsenal fans, feared that we could get left behind. We were 10th and poor in the league. 2 cup wins gave us hope but Irishman Eddie McGoldrick from Palace was our major signing and we sold Anders Limpar, so again, overall our spend wasn’t big.
Eddie McGoldrick: our mercurial Irishman
One major change was the size of the squads. This was the weapon to ensure that the big clubs could stay big. The wage bill jumped as they endeavoured to squeeze out the little guys. To give an example, in season 1993-94 27 players played competitive games for us. We had won the double with far less than half that in 1971.
Were we now a major club?
But we were Arsenal, we were a big club, undisputedly, from our history. Could we now take the stage on this new trophy, which looked like the old First division, but had morphed into a money making machine for big clubs? Were we really a big club now? Could we kick ass and send teams home crying? I wasn’t so confident.
The bizarre thing is that David Dein, our vice chairman at the time, is generally credited with being the main driver of the Premier League. So who was he? He was the revolutionary force trying to make Arsenal the best team in the world. He kept putting money into Arsenal from 1983 onwards until he had a large shareholding of 42%. He pushed against the conservative values of the Hill-Woods and other long term board members. Outside of Dein, they had all been there for generations.
David Dein had huge knowledge and networks
He was different. He was a football man. He understood the international game in a way few else did. He spoke to all the players and was always willing to help them, advise them, and give them a boost.
But he did have a tough job modernising the attitudes of the board. The rivers of money that was starting to flow into the Premier League and top level football generally, needed to flow Arsenal’s way as well. He was heavily involved behind the scenes in transfer activity and in representing Arsenal at the higher levels of English and world football. He was obviously trusted at such levels as he held positions for long times. The Premier League was a new way to do football and he was a key man.
So surely he could make sure that Arsenal benefitted? For that first season we certainly didn’t. This season we finished fourth. We had an extraordinary number of draws but we got 71 points. We still couldn’t really score in the league with only 53 goals out of 42 matches. This was the worst in the top nine. Ian Wright managed 23 of these so he wasn’t the problem. We just weren’t the smooth machine of the pre backpass change. Graham needed to step up and fix it. So we needed Graham to sort things out on the pitch and Dein to sort things out at the owner level to ensure the Premier League would work for us. Next blog I will analyse what happened this season, the good and the bad, and see if there was reasons for optimism. Could we be Arsenal in the shiny new Premier League? A team to be feared? The first 2 seasons didn’t look so good. We needed to be better.
They stopped Arsenal from scoring
1992/93 part 2
As I said last time, this was the first time that football had ever been played. All the previous years of my life was a mirage, a dusty cloth-capped vision in which I imagined all the trips to the grounds, peering at black and white screens, and horsing down the drink as I cheered on the Arsenal. But Sky had given us the new improved version with greed at its core and we lapped it up, eventually.
But that was the story of last week, this week I will delve into Arsenal’s first year in the glittering Sky invention. It was not good. We finished 10th with 56 points and couldn’t score goals. 40! That’s all we could manage! In 42 games. Ian Wright scored 15 of them despite the addition of John Jensen. Maybe he was missing his good buddy David Rocastle who was sold on to Leeds for reasons that I was never sure about. The backpass rule had its impact for sure. What to do when your tried and trusted method lets you down? When the football authorities decide you are boring boring Arsenal and stop the way you play?
John Jensen linked well with Mr Wright
But they couldn't stop Ian Wright
Well, what we did was play well in the cups. Wrighty did better there as well. He also got 15 in far less matches to bring him up to a respectable 30. Wrighty was never our problem.
And so to the League Cup. First up was Millwall and we struggled both legs at 1-1 with the underrated Kevin Campbell scoring both times. It meant penalties after extra time and Lee Dixon stood up for the first. He was our penalty taker and very reliable so he should have frightened them. Maybe the fact that he had scored an own goal earlier gave them heart and meant that he didn’t! Kasey Keller produced a great save and my heart sank. I find penalty shootouts hard to watch but missing the first is even worse. But David Seaman was unstoppable almost that day. He saved the first to level things up and Ian Dawes knocked one past him for the second but that was it. We won 3-1 and it ended up one of our easiest shootouts. My heart could beat again.
Until Derby in the next round. They seemed to be all over us with our defence kicking them all the time and Seaman producing save after save but we fashioned a replay 1-1. We beat them 2-1 at Highbury this time and we were 2-0 up very quickly. They got one back with a penalty but we had done enough.
Did it end at Scarborough?
1-0 to the Arsenal at Scarborough next time with the pitch a quagmire and Scarborough’s jersey is very like Arsenal’s so it was a bit confusing to watch particularly with the heavy fog. But Nigel Winterburn scored and we were through.
Forest next with a young Roy Keane playing under Brian Clough. But he couldn’t stop Ian Wright scoring 2 magnificent goals and we won 2-0.
Then Palace in the 2 legged semi-final. We had a good season against Palace beating them twice in the league and twice here. 3-1 in the first leg at Palace with Ian Wright and Alan Smith (2). Then 2-0 in the second with Ian Wright again and Andy Linighan.
On to Sheffield Wednesday in the final. They were good then with plenty of top players like Mark Bright, David Hirst and Chris Waddle. But the match is synonymous with Steve Morrow. We won 2-1 and he scored but Tony Adams lifted him up at the end and he fell, broke his arm and that was the end of his season. It sparked umpteen newspaper hardlines but was truly dreadful for Steve Morrow. He never really seemed to get his place back after that. But a difficult season so far had given us a cup. Getting into cup finals has always been a strong suit for the Arsenal.
Our Trophy? Of course it's ours
And the FA Cup? Our trophy? We had Yeovil to start, the famed giantkillers. But they didn’t kill us giants. Ian Wright whacked in a hattrick including a delightful lobbed goal that sticks in my memory as we won 3-1. Ian Wright could score a goal by himself, similar to Henry and Bergkamp, he didn’t always need assists like a lot of strikers. As I have said in a previous blog, Lineker and Shearer blocked his path to many more England caps but I truly believe he was better than either of those. They needed providers. I liked him long before he became an Arsenal player and a compilation of his best goals will always include that one.
Next up was Leeds at Highbury, the champions but struggling this season. We were without Ian Wright who was enjoying the cups but was suspended for this one. Gary Speed did a cheeky dink past Seaman to score the first for Leeds and then Lee Chapman scrambled another in. It looked bleak but it’s only Ray Parlour slotted one home and then Paul Merson hit a screamer to give us the draw. On to Elland Road for the replay but Ian Wright returned to score 2 and set up the other for Alan Smith. John Lukic for Leeds probably should have done better but we weren’t complaining.
Why did we sell David Rocastle?
On to Ipswich and Ian Wright was bang in form again creating and scoring a penalty, then scoring another that was credited as an own goal but he really made it happen. Tony Adams and Kevin Campbell got the others for 4-2.
A Sweet 1-0
Hello, the Spuds next and it was time to show them who was boss. Paul Merson chipped in a free kick, Tony Adams stole in and headed it in to send the Spuds home crying and we once again proved we were the Arsenal. 1-0 to the Arsenal is always sweet on the Seven Sisters road.
Sheffield Wednesday again in the final. I doubt if that has happened before or since but as I have said, they were good then. They were probably the better team on the day as David Seaman produced some great saves but Ian Wright our talisman scored first before David Hirst, their talisman, finally managed to beat Dave Seaman and a replay was next.
They shouldn't have given us a second chance
This was much better with both sides creating chances until Ian Wright scored. Then Chris Waddle got one in from a deflection by Lee Dixon. It went to extra time and was just about to go to penalties when Paul Merson whacked in a corner. Andy Linighan, who was carrying an injury from earlier in the match rose high to knock it in and we were the winners again, a rare double of both cups and even rarer against the same team with the same score 2-1. Honestly, I felt a bit sorry for Wednesday, they had a good side and they don’t get many chances at such things. But we had done it again.
Poor Mark Bright. His good friend Ian Wright broke his heart twice
The league was poor though as I have said. Highlights were few. We beat Palace and Coventry 3-0 and Southampton 4-3. I guess we could argue that we were kings of London despite finishing below QPR and the Spuds.
David O’Leary finished up that season with a record number of appearances, 722, which will probably never be beaten. He scarcely featured and moved on to Leeds. Why is there no statue? And Ian Wright notched up 50 goals in 68 appearances this season as well.
A testimonial but no statue
A strange season, all the same. The 2 cup wins were fantastic and showed great resilience but the league form was poor. I put it down to the backpass rule as the team looked discommoded in the league whereas, as you have to win a cup match, they played with more freedom.
The cups wins gave me hope, that eternal emotion of a football fan. Next season we would be back to winning the league. I was sure of it.
A freak accident for Steve Morrow epitomised our season!
1992-93 part 1
The Invention of football
2 big things happened. One was the invention of football by Sky. The new Premier League was launched amidst the razzamatazz of a world event. Now there would be lots of live football, strange time slots such as Sunday football, Monday football, even Friday football. There would be long football analysis shows, teams of pundits at the ready to spout partisan views dressed up as commentary. All sorts of camera angles and intrusions into the world of professional football. Sky would eventually make a packet selling these rights to every round of the globe. English football got a massive boost in popularity and other countries advanced on their coattails.
I had never heard of football before this year
I am certain Spain, Italy, France and Germany regret that they didn’t do it first but would it have achieved the same level of success or would England have passed them out anyway? We will never know but it is certain that the Premier League is more competitive than those leagues. Plus football got a massive boost as an armchair sport, and, and I am not clear why, ground attendance jumped dramatically also, as did sales of sports accessories, becoming the biggest component of many clubs income.
The Backpass rule change
No more tapping it around at the back
Ah, but I said 2 big things happened. The other one was the backpass rule. This did not suit George Graham. The backpass to the goalkeeper was an essential aspect of his strategy. Now, you could not kick it back to the goalie. Defence became more difficult and strikers gained an advantage. It was brought in as recent major tournaments were perceived to be boring. It worked, in my opinion, as football got sharper, quicker and defenders got more nervous without the instant relief of banging it back to the netminder. Sometimes it would be pass it back, then pass it around defenders, then back to the keeper ad infinitum if a team were defending a slender advantage. Now, attackers could chase them down, force a mistake, and rattle in a goal. It suited those managers who liked to attack. George Graham wasn’t one of those. Counter attacking was.
Now don’t get me wrong, he was a clever man, he probably would have figured out a way to be as effective under the new rule but circumstances, which I will get to in a later blog, were to overtake him and although we didn’t have any inkling at the time, his reign as a top manager was not too far away from an effective end. But, in the short term, this new rule did not suit his extremely well drilled team. Howard Wilkinson, who had just won the championship with Leeds, was another wayfaller as was Jack Charlton with the Republic of Ireland. Wilkinson’s Leeds tumbled mightily from champions to 17th surely one of the worst crashes ever. And it cannot be attributed to Eric Cantona going to Manchester United.
Alex Ferguson brought back from the dead
Why not? Because Cantona had only joined in February and obviously Wilkinson felt he was trouble and allowed Ferguson to snap him up in the summer. This season was a godsend for Ferguson. Now you could attack and attack, close down keepers, make them nervous and Manchester United won the league. Ferguson was no dud after all, just needed the conditions to be right. The ironic thing is that surely this season would have been his last, how long could they let him go without winning the league? The Premier league was made for his brand of football, never let a team settle, keep them on the backfoot, attack all the time, as goals may win in the end as they had done for Arsenal a few seasons before against Liverpool. Their only real weakness, under Ferguson, was that they sometimes couldn’t close out games as he had them searching for the clinching goal, and they could get caught on the break.
And for Arsenal?
Ah, but this blog is about Arsenal, and like I said, the backpass rule didn’t suit a counterattacking team like us. It was easy enough to knock the steam out of an attacking team before, but not now. Once the keeper had it in his hands the opposition couldn’t score, now the difficulty was getting it there. We had good players, lots of England internationals, plenty of attacking players, superb defenders, but there is no doubt we were discommoded. There was plenty to cheer about that season all the same and next week I will delve into how we did.
Of course Preston never existed. The only Invincibles were Arsenal
I must emphasise one thing, though, Arsenal, under George Graham, scored lots of goals. As I have shown in my previous blogs we had plenty of big wins every season. To give the idea, we had a goal difference of +57 when we last won the league 2 years before, Man Utd had +36 this year. We scored 74 and they scored 77. They conceded a lot more. That was the difference between Graham’s style and Ferguson’s.
Did we like it?
And so to the Premier League. Most fans, myself included, didn’t like it. It smacked of elitism, of a power grab by the big clubs and it was for sure. Not as egregious as the Super League this year but it had Sky backing it. A lot of press coverage was positive. It only affected English football initially not like the Super League which would have changed football forever. The teams had done their due diligence, they had prepared the ground beforehand, fans wanted more live football and better conditions at the grounds. Stands were being introduced everywhere, making football far more attractive to families, women and kids. Corporate boxes became an essential element of football culture, now the rich were as cosseted as they were at Royal Ascot for the horseracing. Strong policing, better grounds and seating made hooliganism, the biggest turnoff in football, a far smaller phenomenon.
Lots of camera angles for the fans
Football had moved away from its working class, cloth cap days, it was brighter, shinier and generated a lot more money. Sky became, de facto, the biggest player in world football, changing times and days to suit themselves. Fans could no longer say for certain when matches would be played as the initial schedules would have little bearing on the final ones. History could be rewritten and it was. Statistics often apply only to the Premier League era now. Great players of the past are ignored because they never played Premier League.
Far better for the greed merchants
Was it better? Maybe, but it has built football up into a greed machine that is unprecedented. Billionaires and corporations jostle to grab a slice of the cash. Footballers can earn more than virtually any other type of celebrity. Young kids are buying Ferraris in their teens, and all the while the dead hand of tv executives and grotesque football team owners suck the life out of sporting ideals, fair competition and any compassionate thought for the fans, the money machine that keeps it all going.
The greedy's icon
The Premier League has changed football irrevocably, that’s for certain, but is it forever? Can it keep growing, keep dipping its fingers into the pockets of gullible fans who dash to buy the latest merchandise, keep buying more subscriptions, and clamouring to pay crazy money to get into grounds? For me, no, I don’t think so. I feel that it can crash, crash badly. If it does, it may allow for the chance of a reboot, for fans to take over and sanity to prevail. I have hope.
Хосе Антонио Рейес Калдерон. Непобедим. Буквално и преносно. Футболист, останал завинаги на 35-годишна възраст и спечелил сърцата на феновете на клубове като Арсенал, Севиля, Реал Мадрид, Атлетико Мадрид и Бенфика. Носил също така екипите на Еспаньол, Кордоба, Синдзян Тианшан Леопард и Естремадура. Човек, чиято усмивка няма как да бъде забравена... Днес се навършват точно две години откакто той ни напусна... А този материал посвещаваме на него.
Рейес е роден на 1 септември 1983 година в Утрера, югоизточно от Севиля, Испания. Още на 10-годишна възраст, той се присъединява към младежките формации на Севиля. В този клуб, той преминава през всичките структурни нива на футболната школа. През 1999 година, когато той е 15-годишен, подписва и първият си договор със Севиля. Дебютът му за мъжете не закъснява и той е факт след само още 2 години, когато влиза като резерва срещу Сарагоса. През същата година, получава и повиквателна за испанският национален отбор до 17 години. Както всички знаем, позицията на Рейес е ляво крило. Притежаващ техника и скорост, той бързо започва да показва потенциала си и така след 4 сезона в Севиля, отбелязва 22 гола в 86 изиграни срещи. Това не остава незабелязано от големите европейски клубове. През януари 2004 година, Арсен Венгер го закупува в Арсенал на цена от 20.5 милиона паунда. На 1 февруари, Хосе Антонио Рейес дебютира с екипа на „Топчиите“ при победата над Манчестър Сити с 2:1 за първенство. В следващият си мач, Арсенал се изправя срещу Челси. Tози път, състезанието е за Купата на Англия. Рейес се разписва на два пъти, а по-късно вкарва още едно попадение във вратата на Челси в 1/4-финален сблъсък в турнира на Шампионската лига. На 15 май 2004 година, Рейес и целият състав на Арсенал изписват имената си със златни букви в историята на английския футбол, като не допускат нито една загуба през целият сезон във Висшата лига. В началото на следващата кампания (2004/05), Арсенал играе домакински мач на Хайбъри срещу Мидълзбро. Именно Рейес спомага за победата с 5:3 с невероятен гол. Коментаторa на мача е толкова вдъхновен от това попадение, че думите ''It's Reyeeeeees, stand up for The Champions'' остават завинаги запечатани в съзнанията на феновете на стадиона и извън него.
В началото на 2005 година, Рейес е обвзет от носталгия по родната Испания и заявява на ръководството на Арсенал, че иска да смени обстановката. Спекулациите за евентуалното му напускане нямаляват, когато през лятото подписва нов договор за 6 години. Сезон 2005/06 е в ход и той ще се окаже последен за Арсенал и домакински мачове на Хайбъри. По този повод, от Найк създават специални екипи в цвят бордо. Това все пак се оказва и последният сезон на сметката на Хосе Антонио Рейес като играч на Лондончани. Кампания, в която Арсенал губи злощастно финалa на Шампионската лига срещу Барселона. През лятото на същата тази 2006 година, тогавашният кандидат за нов президент на Реал Мадрид Артуро Балдасано, заявява, че ако бъде избран, ще привлече в съставa на Мадридчани Сеск Фабрегас и Рейес. Това определено вбесява Арсен Венгер, който се оказва безпомощен, когато малко преди края на летния трансферен прозорец, Арсенал и Реал Мадрид правят размяна Рейес за Жулио Баптища. С екипa на Арсенал, испанското крило се разписва общо 23 пъти.
Хосе Антонио Рейес беше женен за Ноелия Лопес, със която сключи брак през юни 2017 година. От нея, той има две дъщери. Ноелия, кръстена на майка си и Триана. Испанецът има и един син от предишната си връзка. Името му е Хосе Антонио-Младши, който през 2019 година по ирония на съдбата подписа договор с Реал Мадрид. Само няколко дни след смъртта на баща си. Така едва 12-годишен, той върви смело по неговите стъпки.
Хосе Антонио Рейес. Баща, съпруг, футболист. Човек, чието име винаги ще носи наслада в ушите на футболният запалянко. Хосе Антонио Рейес. Непобедим. Буквално и преносно.
Почивай в Мир! Липсваш...
Mystic Gus predicts our future!
So, I had fun predicting our results this year, starting in the day before my birthday, 20th January, here I took on the task of figuring out where our season would end up.
The strangest thing about our strangest season yet was the number three, at least regarding my predictions. I was out by 3 quite a lot, or 3 had an impact on what I was writing. First, I predicted 64 points, we got 61. I predicted 70 was needed for Champions league and 67 was enough. If we had 3 more wins we would have got Champions league. We needed one more win worth 3 points to finish above the Spuds. We scored 3 goals 13 times, far more than any other, if you exclude the times we scored once (15), but then we are one nil to the Arsenal so we are expected to score once, to give the fans something to sing about. And, at that time, if we won all our matches (ha ha), we would have got 84 points which I said would probably win the league, but City, in the end, got 86, so we would have needed 3 more points to win the league.
Put your money on me
I did pretty well overall, predicting a City win and comparatively low points score. From halfway at 27 points we got 61, an extra 7. Not too bad and our final form was good. My second one with 8 league matches plus Europa league left was very close and I predicted most matches correctly, including scores sometimes. Truly our only poor results were Fulham, Everton and crucially Villareal. One goal in the latter match and we would be playing Man Utd for the Europa League. A couple of centimeters and we were through. A fine margin. Close but no.
Were we any good?
What were our highlights? Beating Liverpool twice, in the Charity shield and the Carabao cup. Beating Chelsea twice, beating and drawing with Man Utd, beating Leicester and Spurs, beating and drawing with West Ham. Our good run in the Europa League. The form of Saka, Smith Rowe, and Tierney when he wasn’t injured. The latter performances of Pepe gave hope as well. Surely Willock’s performances gave us optimism too? We have needed such a player since Ramsey, a box to box guy who scores. We badly need that aggression, someone to run at defenders and also to ghost into the box. It seems we have one and we don’t want to play him? He also has balls, scoring the vital shootout penalty against Liverpool in the Carabou Cup.
Bye bye Liverpool
I like Arteta but his decisions baffle me. We need settled defenders but he keeps messing with them. At this moment, assuming Bellerin goes, I would like Chambers, Holding, Gabriel and Tierney unless Saliba proves to be worth the money. Midfield, for me, would be Partey or Xhaka and Xhaka seems more solid at the moment, Willock, Smith Rowe and Saka, then 2 of Martinelli, Pepe, Lacazette and Aubamayang. Forwards get subbed a lot so we can be flexible there. That leaves plenty of players ready to fight for their places. Elneny (again I like his aggression, something we are missing), Maitland Niles, Nelson, Mari, Soares, Balogun, Nketiah, Azeez and others are there. And I am aware there are some more academy players awaiting their chances.
Who to me are certs if fit? Saka, Smith Rowe and Tierney for sure. Pepe and Martinelli would be certs also. Willock could become another if played right. Arteta needs to get his partnerships right. The 2 fullbacks, the centrebacks, the centre of midfield, wide midfielders, and strikers. Players who know how to find each other, and aggressively chase down the opposition.
What are our weaknesses? To me coaching seems a problem. Nobody seems to know how to take a throw in effectively. Our marking at corners and free kicks can be poor as can taking them. We make mistakes too often. A simple ball over the top puts our defence in a panic. We get red cards too often, leaving us exposed. And crucially, we are not aggressive in taking on teams, we tap around the ball here and there instead of going for their throat. Remember, we needed 3 wins for Champions League, and improving all these areas would have got those 3 wins.
I want to tackle a question finally. Our players are not good enough is the refrain all year. No, our coaching isn’t. Pepe, Aubayamg, Lacazette, Partey, Saliba and Xhaka cost fortunes. Saka, Smith Rowe, Tierney and Martinelli would cost fortunes now. Maitland Niles, Chambers and Holding have played for England. Nketiah does wonders for England’s juniors. Willock also, it seems would cost a lot. Leno, although I am not totally convinced, is as good as some in the Premier League. If they corrected the errors mentioned above we would be challenging.
We need to beat the smaller teams
Our players showed we can beat the big teams, which means we can also beat the smaller ones. We seemed to struggle against teams who parked the bus and hit a quick ball over the top. That should be an essential aspect of training as many teams in the premier league rely on this. The defenders have to be able to deal with it. It is easy to practice in training. We need also to be quicker out of defence ourselves, occasionally whacking a defence splitting pass for our speedy guys to latch on to. Only really David Luiz tried this with any regularity. What’s the point of having speedy players like Tierney, Saka, Pepe, Aubayamang, and Martinelli if we don’t give them a ball to run on to? A slow build up has its merits but so has a quick long ball. We need to mix it up more and also finally show defences something to be scared of. Teams know that if they pile forward, Arsenal will give them plenty of time to get back. Every time they pile forward, we need to hit them on the break, and make them afraid to put numbers up.
Not Just a Mourinho tactic
Ask me, Mr Arteta and go, Mr Kroenke
Can we look forward to next year? Maybe. We need to be far better drilled. We need to beat the lesser teams, we need greater discipline and we need the fans to get behind the team. Having greedy, unwanted and uncaring owners doesn’t help. I am not convinced about another billionaire taking over but he does sound better than the Kroenkes. I would love a true fan ownership but it seems like a far distant dream. But I want to believe in Arsenal, I want us to be Arsenal and hey, send the other teams home crying.