After the draw to Chelsea 6 matches ago, we looked at the calendar and saw 5 matches that Arsenal needed a good run in to keep pace with the top 6. That run ended this Saturday with a 2-1 home win over visiting Swansea. It meant that out of the 15 available points, Arsenal took 12 (damn that Watford match.) It means that as the top 6 separate from the rest of the league we’re in a good position to get back into the Champion’s League spots we (management) so want.
As we head into a less promising fortnight of league matches, we take one last look at the match that was, with our normal installment of “Three Things We Learned.”
The Comforts of Home
Arsenal don’t like to lose at home. With the win over Swansea at the Emirates this weekend, Arsenal have won 12 straight home matches in all competitions. It’s an excellent run of form that sees them challenging for honors in all their competitions (save for the league.)
What many of us are wondering though is, how come this form doesn’t translate on the road where they have been paltry. All 3 losses of the season have come on the road. In fact prior to the Everton win, we had a record of 0W 1D 3L on the road this season. If you expand it in the calendar year we have only garnered 14 points on the road.
Let’s face it, we’re awful on the road. We have no plan for playing on the road except to play like we’re playing at home. At home we are expansive and move the ball fluidly – we try and do the same thing on the road and it fails.
In the follow up to the Swansea match, Wenger went on to talk about his adjustments to the match. Specifically, he talked about how Swansea were taking Bellerin out of the game and that was opening up the left and they started to play to Kolasinac to take advantage of that.
So, let’s be clear, there is definitely a plan in play at home. It can be adjusted based on what the opposition are doing. It just begs the question- why can’t we do the same on the road.
Its great we have this form at home. Its good for the fans and its good for the team. But complete teams, compete on the road AND at home and are successful at both.
Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez don’t like each other much
I have absolutely no actual evidence to suggest this. I wanted to get this out of the way before people scream – how do you know? However, as I watch them play I notice a couple of things that lead me to this conclusion.
First let’s look at the moment in the match versus Swansea. Özil comes in from the right. Inside the 18 is Sanchez. Crashing in from behind (and around the top of the arc) is Ramsey. Sanchez preps to receive the pass and Ramsey comes in and takes the shot off his foot.
Forget for a moment who Özil was actually trying to pass to. It’s a worthy debate. For a player to come in and take the ball off of their foot, especially inside the 18 is not a very respectful moment.
As I watched the game, I noticed that Ramsey or Sanchez only passed to each other if they absolutely had no other options available. If there were other players available and one or the other was around them and was an equally good option, I don’t recall them making that pass ( I could be wrong.)
Go back to the history of them playing on the field together. Look at every time Ramsey did something stupid with the ball or made a decidedly poor pass – who was screaming their head off at
him – Sanchez.
Now It Gets Harder
12 points from 15 in the last 5 matches would be a good set of results by anyone’s standards but it’s all for nowt if Arsenal can’t get a result away to City and at home versus Tottenham.
It really is that simple. Time to carry on. Dropping points to both these teams would kill any chance of making it back to the Champion’s League again – short of winning the Europa League (which I find doubtful.)
If Arsenal are going to keep the ground they’ve gained from these last 5 matches they have to find a way to take points off of two of the better teams they’ll face this season. Against City it’s a difficult task. Versus Sp**s it’ll be difficult but not impossible. Frankly, a good result would be 4 out of 6 points, whichever way they can get it.
Sead Kolasinac is a beast. Nuff said.