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Post Match Review

Three Things We Learned from Arsenal v Everton; 4 In Row

Arsenal continued to build momentum with their 4th league win a row. The team is still not without it’s issues and you wonder if the momentum could get derailed if things aren’t tweaked sooner rather than later.

Let’s take a look at the 3 things we learned from Arsenal v Everton.

Özil, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan OH MY!

 Yesterday and in many matches recently, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the odd man out in terms of league play. He is relegated to the bench while Mesut Özil is pushed out wide, while Aaron Ramsey has been moved into the central area playing as the 10.

Let’s be honest it doesn’t work.

It’s telling that Mesut Özil seems lost in Emery’s system until that moment in the game when Emery adjusts his formation and gives Özil more freedom to drift and find space, operating as the 10 and not locked into a position that isn’t his forte’.

I am the biggest Mesut Özil fanboy there is and even I can see he has little to no impact in most games where he has to start that way. I only start to see him grow in a game when I see him find the gaps between the midfield and defensive lines and trying to exploit that space.

In Emery’s system, the wide player doesn’t operate as the source of the width in the attack. That comes from the full backs – in Arsenal’s case mostly coming from Hector Bellerin.

The players that line up in wide position, typically tuck in to allow the fullbacks to come up and act as a support player to the running fullback. That’s just not getting the best out of Mesut Özil.

And let’s be real – you can be the most ardent anti-Rambo lad out there but even you have to admit that playing him as a 10 rather than an 8 as a box-to-box type takes a way his natural instincts to make those runs off the ball. Of course, playing him as the 8 sometimes leaves large gaps of space in the midfield as he bombs forward but at least it’s playing to his natural abilities.

That leaves Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the odd man out.

Watching him in the Europa league out wide, even though absent, he still can play the position as a natural wide player with some creative flair added in. I can gather why Emery hasn’t started him – he has only shown spurts and flashes of his Dortmund self and its been sporadic at best. But I still think either he or Iwobi as a wide player and Özil as a 10 makes more sense then what we are doing now.

Emery knows more than any of us arm-chair prognosticators do. I always mention we don’t see what he is seeing in training. But the Arsenal play is still looking lethargic and labored in attack. Part of that has to be putting players in the wrong position.

Ramsey now seems to be carrying an injury. It could be the moment for Emery to tweak his attack and try and get the best out of a player in Mesut Özil who when on form is one of the best in Europe.

We shall see.

Cech vs. Leno

Petr Cech was absolutely outstanding. In fairness he’s been pretty solid on the basic principles of goal keeping – saves.

The evidence is clear that he is not a ball playing goalkeeper. When the ball is played back to him, he always looks like his feet aren’t set for the ball to be played to him. Conversely you look at Leno against FC Vorskla and you see a player much better suited to playing out of the back.

Still, its hard to pull a keeper who is making excellent save after excellent save. Last season, Petr Cech was rightly criticized for not making critical saves or making very un-Cech like errors that led to goals.

Whatever training regiment he has been on seems to be paying off. He looks quicker getting down to the ground then he did last year, his angles are good and his ability to quickly come off the line looks much improved.

Given his familiarity with the league, his leadership role within the team and his improved form, its not hard to imagine why Emery persists with him even when his ability to play out of the back is the weakest part of the game.

Oh, and that brings us to something Tim Stillman (@stillberto) was talking about today on twitter – can we please stop with the over the top and embarrassing calls for Cech to kick it long when we try and play it out of the back.

Tim nails it on the head. Yeah, it looks wobbly but 9 out of 10 times its with very little danger and the catcalls are just embarrassingly counterproductive. It’s how the new boss wants to play and whether it’s Cech, Leno or Martinez in goal we’re not going to see it go away. So bloody well get used to it.

4 In Row

One of the worst parts of last season was enduring Arsenal’s inability to gather any kind of momentum. Whatever the reasons, Arsenal simply couldn’t put together a string of wins to maybe eradicate the malaise that had taken over las season.

Fast forward to this season and after two losses to kick off the season, Arsenal have put together their first string of 4 wins since 2016 (I think). Last year they had two runs of 3 wins a row but never broke that. The poor away form in particular breaking up any chance at gaining in consistency.

So, it’s nice to see Arsenal win the games they should be winning. Still, there is lots of room for improvement.

The pressing, even Emery’s passive press (versus Jurgen’s gengenpresse) still doesn’t look right, the defending – well the less said the better, and the labored attack still need to be worked on.

While that may be okay and good enough against the lower half of the table, against the bigger teams, its just not enough. It could get us back into the top 4 this year but it could also be the reason we narrowly miss out on it because we can’t get a positive result against a top 6 side.

We shall see though. It’s still nice to get 4 in a row.

MOTD Highlight’s (Courtesy


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