Arsenal 3.0 is Espresso Arsenal
Arsenal 3.0 is Espresso Arsenal
A rather depressing conversation happened among the analytics crowd today. The short version? City and particularly Arsenal have had the bottom fall out of the Shots and Shots-On-Target levels as this season progresses while Spurs have taken off like a rocket. We’re the BLUE line and SPURS are the ORANGE line.
I hope when we look back on this Leicester match it proves to be the turning point of the season. Yes, because of the 3 points. And because of the morale boosting win against the leagues leaders. And coming out the right end of a 6 pointer. But more than anything, I hope it is because of the return of one Danny Welbeck.
Or rather what Danny Welbeck now enables us to do. Espresso Arsenal. High caffeine content Arsenal. Counter-pressing Arsenal.
You see, I have already factored in Coquelin. After all, he’s been back for aaaages now. Of course Leicester also marks his return as a starter.
We are rounding the bend in the 400m final and entering the home straight. For the first 300m it’s essential to maintain your running form, to be efficient, to run smoothly. You can’t run all 400m ugly. But when you get round the bend you throw everything at it. Running form? Ugliness? Efficiency? Fuck it. It’s the sprint to the line for a gold medal: Legs and arms flail as you throw yourself at the tape.
In these last 12 games we need to be able to find a way to win each and every match whether we’re flowing or not. We saw against Leicester what putting 2 target men up front late on can do when your best option is launching 50 crosses into the box. That probably won’t be the last time we need to do that. Getting 2 men in for the crosses, plus an Alexis leaping like a salmon who’s late for an upstream booty call, could be a regular close-out ploy.
But morphing into a 2-striker attack late in the game isn’t the only tactic that lends itself to Welbeck. More exciting still would be the return of a true pressing game. Against a number of teams, the counter-press will be the way we slip them out of their nighties. We don’t have a Wengerball distributor in the center of midfield right now. On the other hand…what we do have at our disposal is 2 high energy CMs, and Elneny in the wings. And we’re approaching that part of the season where matches are won by sheer will and energy. Style counts for nothing. Clawing your way back into a match you had no right to win counts for everything.
So, no Pirlo, still a party. And maybe the right kind of party for this stage of the season. Add a midfield of Coquelin and Ramsey to one of potentially the best pressing Front Threes in the league with Sanchez/Giroud/Welbeck, gives us a high energy Front Six with the crafty and surgical Ozil. That’s a very front-footed group of players and a handful for any team to come up against. And yet, without Welbeck and Coquelin, we seemed a mile off being a pressing team.
Key roles will be played to a greater or lesser extent by Walcott, Campbell and The Ox, who all have their strengths but Danny…Danny is a one-man-press. Him, Sanchez and Giroud? That’s a quorum. Coquelin and Ramsey? He had them at “H…”
Behind that 6 is an under-rated backline of pressers. Bellerin? Need I say any more than Bayern to you? Koscielny and Monreal thrive on the front-footed interception. And Per is no slouch either. Well, yes, he is a slouch. But not when we’re talking about pressing, front-footed pressure and anticipation. Then he’s not a slouch. The rest of the time…he’s a slouch.
And anyway, we’ve got Gabriel.
And Cech? Running out of his box to head the ball clear, then later Cruyff-turning Vardy? (Cruyff did lots of different kinds of turns if you must quibble.) Cech’s itching, man. Itching for some fun. Not like at boring old Chelsea with their defence first shit. He wants to live on the edge with a team who will drop him in it 3 or 4 times a game so he can feel alive, ALIVE! Leaning him over the cliff by his belt and then being pulled back at the last moment by our back four…or not…truly alive, for maybe the first time in his life.
Say no more, Petr. Per’s got you covered…by not having you covered.
But that Front-Footed Front Ten, now that you point it out to me, is in fact ALL of our outfield players and is made to live by the sword. And in matches where we need to grab the momentum, shake things up, make something happen, cause turnovers in dangerous areas, catch them with their knickers down around tired ankles…we can put out a team that can match the best of them for pressing and energy. No longer the victim, now we’re the serial killer.
It has pace, it has runs in behind, it’s muscular and it can press,
We face Spurs, the Pressers-In-Chief, in 5 games time on March 5th, in what will be yet another title decider in a series of what may turn out to be rather a lot of title deciders. We can fight pressing fire with fire and still play our own game.
And there is the other reason to be excited. Welbeck is fresh. Alexis is fresh. Coquelin is fresh. We have rotation options to keep Ollie fresh. Ramsey is a marathoner. Ozil looks a bit knackered all the time anyway, so he’s probably fresh. Theo, Ox and Campbell will be buzzing to impress. We now have a real bench to come on and change matches when we need that next goal.
It’s all perfect for an all-action, balls-in-the-meat-grinder, press-the-fuck-out-of-‘em, they-don’t-like-it-up-‘em, they-thought-we’d-stroke-it-around-for-600-passes, end of season Charge Of The Light Brigade…but without all our lads getting completely slaughtered by Russian cannons…cos we have the cannons. A happy Charge Of The Light Brigade, so to speak.
There has been only one Leicester team and only one Spurs team this season in the league – no injuries, consistent lineups. But that there have been 3 Arsenal teams:
- The first 12 games or so was the team built around Coqzorla
- The second 14 games has been the team surviving the absences of Coqzorla & Alexis
- And the team to come for the last 12 games…
It will be a high energy lineup based on Coq-Ramsey with Welbeck added to Alexis, Ozil and Ollie, and with options of Theo, Ox and Campbell. And, yes, Santi eventually.
All current pundit and analytics projections on Leicester, Spurs and Arsenal are based on the teams as they are known up to this point but we are now just starting to field Arsenal 3.0. All projections that ignore this fact are redundant.
Forget the last few months. This is all utterly new. For Arsenal 3.0, Espresso Arsenal, nothing is written.
Grab your crotch and hang on tight.