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Arsenal At Home To Sheffield: More Creativity Or Better Defending?

Written by @shardgooner

After a frustrating, if not unexpected loss to Liverpool, Arsenal avenged themselves by inflicting a penalty shootout defeat in the League Cup. The reward; a game against Manchester City. It’s a trophy I’ve never seen us win so it would be nice if we could this time.

But cup competitions are not the top focus. An away loss to Liverpool isn’t the end of the world, but we need to get back to winning ways in the league as quickly as possible. Sheffield United’s visit gives us opportunity to do that. This is not quite the same team as it was last season. Either they’ve been figured out, or possibly, the lack of crowds is really affecting them.

They have however tried to fix an issue they had last season as well. For some time there were reports linking them with Arsenal U23 forward Folarin Balogun. They have instead paid big money to sign Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster. I have no idea if he is a good signing for them, but I would advice caution against letting him score against us. It just feels like a very Arsenal thing to do.

Fans losing their minds

Not signing players and fans losing their minds is also a very Arsenal thing to do. I’ve come to expect that, but what blows my mind is people now clamoring to bring Raul back. Maybe if he hadn’t paid £72m for Pepe we wouldn’t have as limited a budget right now. But winning the transfer market matters more to some. Anyway, there’s still a couple of days till the end of the transfer window. Maybe there will drama.

Hopefully we can avoid it on the field. Sheffield are a bit of a Schrodinger’s team. Were very impressive last season, especially in defense. But on a poor run of form since the restart. 3 losses from 3 this season, with no goals scored, won’t have given them much cause for cheer. It does mean we should expect a scrap. They do have an unbeaten record in London in their last 9 games which they’ll be hoping to build on.

Arsenal however have a great home record against sides in the relegation zone, unbeaten in last 40. None of that matters much once the game kicks off of course. Dani Ceballos is available and ESR is back in training. Maybe that will add some much needed creativity to our side. I also wonder if Ozil could find his way back. The club has started showing him in their training pictures, and frankly, we need to do something.

Attack will find itself

I’m of the view that the attack will find itself in a few months. But that doesn’t mean just letting it be. It means figuring things out, and taking some risks. A home game against Sheffield. A team low in the table but fairly well organised could be just the sort of game for Mesut to make an impact in. Especially if there are to be no new signings this window. Ozil or not, I’d prefer us to play 433, but probably too much to hope for. We’ll likely go 3 at the back and with Xhaka and Ceballos in midfield again. Pepe/Willian can maybe pull off a piece of skill, and there’s always Auba.

I have a feeling this will be a tight, tough game. Even possibly a draw if we fail to score an early goal. Let’s hope we start the game at a quick tempo. Then we need to defend better than we did against Liverpool. Watch out for set pieces. And Beware the Brewster. So many players seem to score on their club debuts these days. We do have the hero of Anfield, Bernd Leno in goal, so a clean sheet feels possible.

3 points before the international break are crucial, especially with a tough run of games coming up after that. They are bringing knives to a gunfight. Let’s go out and show them how badly they are outgunned.

Written by: Shard aka @shardgooner on Twitter

8 Comments

  1. “….the attack will find itself in a few months.” Shard you are the proverbial ray of optimism when all is doom and gloom. Even hoping and predicting that Mesut Ozil could make an appearance.

    To date, since the COVID restart Arteta has played a deep block counter-attacking opportunistically. His biggest attacking weapon is the long-ball to Auba which most teams have figured out (West Ham and Liverpool). We don’t and can’t create opportunities by playing through the lines of our opponents. Playing this way Arteta has won 2 cups and beat Liverpool’s 2nd-3rd string on Thursday. Why should he change what seems to be working?

    Reply
    • Why should he change what seems to be working?

      That’s a good question, Shotta. The answer is the one Wenger used to give. You look at all the best teams ever and they used to play good attacking football.

      The thing is, a solid defense is a necessary base. That is the structure that creativity builds on top of. Emery ruined us and Arteta didn’t have the likes of Adams, Bould, Keown to build on. He’s had to do a complete reset.

      The instinctive passing and the confidence to take on opponents knowing that your teammates will cover for you, that takes a little time to develop. In the meantime, winning is important to preserve confidence. Even Wenger would go defensive if the team was on a losing run.

      Arteta still hasn’t had a proper pre-season with the team either. Arsenal are learning on the job. That’s often frustrating, but also a good way to learn. I suspect signings like Willian are meant to reduce the learning time. He doesn’t need to be spectacular. He just needs to do his job well enough for others to play off of him.

      As for Ozil, I don’t think he’ll play today. But the fact that they aren’t hiding him away anymore, means that he might have a way back in. Especially without any other signings.

      Reply
      • But by refusing to select Ozil Arteta is signalling he has no intent of playing through the lines. How long can this last?

        Reply
  2. Shotts with Luiz still a starter it’ll be hard to push the back line further up the field consistently, so I feel is shard is correct to feel the way this team attacks will change as Luiz transitions out of the starting eleven as the season progresses.

    But yes as you note without Ozil not much creativity down the centre so far today. Some promising moves with Bellerin moving into midfield (nowhere near as bad as Emeryball imo), but it’ll be a close game.
    Some difficult openings for Nketiah, no big chances so far.

    Reply
    • 4 chances so far by Arsenal but only one seem to trouble their keeper; the long distance shot by Auba which he finger-tipped over the bar. Frankly guys, based on this first half, Emery will be thinking we were unfairly biased against him.

      Reply
  3. Arsenal won a game it should and I welcome the points but how can we be happy with the performance?

    Reply
  4. Looks like a fantastic improvement. Having averaged 3 shots on target for our last 4 games, it seems we managed 5 today, out of a total of 6 shots.

    I did not watch the game so cannot comment on it.

    It seems that arteta is concentrating on the defence for the moment, so attacking and creativity is not on the menu.

    It is a shame that Mane was diagnosed with the virus after and not before our game last Monday.

    He seems to be the modern day Drogba who seemed to be able to cut through our defence at will.

    Reply
  5. The last message went out before I put in my full name which you can now see.

    Reply

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