THREE THINGS LEARNED FROM ARSENAL VS LEICESTER CITY
Arsenal cruised to their 5th straight win in the premier league with a victory against Leicester city at the Emirates stadium. The foxes discovered how good the North Londoners are at home as the Gunners produced another convincing display on their own turf. Arsenal are the third best team at home, only behind Manchester City and Liverpool, having earned 32 points at home alone from 14 games.
Arsenal move back into fourth spot after the win, while the 2016 champions stay in 12th to compound what has been an underwhelming season.
Here are three key takeaways from today’s game:
Aggression from the back key to sustained pressure
There has been a lot of talk of Arsenal’s summer window proving transformational for the team with the youngest average age in the Premier league. There is no doubt that the profile of player that has been brought in is the right way to go, however the biggest impact is how they are being asked to play.
Previously, the strategy of expensively acquired individualistic attackers was a staple at London Colney. That is not the case anymore. In fact over the last three important transfer windows bar January 2022, there has been an emphasis on technical security, particularly from the back.
In Summer 2020, in came Gabriel Magalhaes and Thomas Partey. Last summer, it was Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu. All capable of dealing with stress and trauma and proactively operating an aggressive high line if required. Arsenal have been guilty of sitting off and allowing space against sides in the past because of the lack of energy to fill in behind the first line of the press, that does not seem to be the case at the moment. White had a team high of three interceptions today, a signal of his anticipatory instincts which mesh so well in this team.
There will be difficult games where the proactivity of this side will be exposed, particularly when they are not fresh or there are missing pieces that are vital to the game plan. There is a lot of promise in the intention of this set of principles.
Ramsdale is England’s number one
Brendan Rodgers has been denied twice by Aaron Ramsdale. His so called “save of the season” at the King Power stadium is still in the minds of all that were present to witness it. A reflex save from a point blank range Harvey Barnes header made folly of Rodgers premature celebrations once again.
There is no need to explain why the majority of Arsenal fans are rewriting scornful tweets about the idea of signing Aaron Ramsdale last summer.
The former Sheffield stopper is still only 23 years of age, has top class distribution skills and will get better with age. He made 4 accurate long balls today, which was important in stretching and pushing Leicester City back.
Gareth Southgate will be considering his options for the World Cup in November, and there cannot be many players with Ramsdale’s trajectory in mind. Jordan Pickford continues to be a shining light in a nightmarish season for Everton, however, England still struggle with progression. A goalkeeper with Aaron Ramsdale’s distribution repertoire should be a serious option to start despite his tender years in international terms.
Momentum can only be hampered by variables
The North Londoners are really having it their own way now. They are one of the form teams in the league. Pundits are fawning over the sustained brilliance of Martin Odegaard, who is now a centrepiece for how the team want to play and claimed the man of the match award today for his troubles. Thomas Partey has been brilliant and even picked up a player of the month award last month for how good he had been playing.
The test is going to be whether Arsenal are able to handle the inevitable rearranged fixtures which are primed to be organised at the most inconvenient time as they will be on TV. Shorter rest times may mean more of a chance of a disorganised press and more tired players.
The international break is time away from the harmonious base that Arteta and his coaches have built for this team. The Spaniard will be hoping that his team do not pick up any knocks and players can put aside any failures with their national team to boost the team in the run in. As, the former captain likes to say: “one game at a time.”