That was a decent enough weekend we’ve just had, by my reckoning, don’t you think? The Manchester derby was the only real concern for us and as the two sides cancelled each other out, it ensured that we are level on points with a City side who after five games, were going to walk the Premier League this season.
Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to watch the game, as I was on my way back from watching The Management run her way around Portsmouth, but I did listen in and I found some of the commentary quite interesting indeed. Plenty of talk about defences, but little about the attacking prowess of both teams, which with Silva and Aguero out, I hope is an early indicator that City will not be as free-scoring as they would be with him in the team. Sure, they will win games and sure, they’ll get goals. But perhaps it is an early indicator that they are just as susceptible to injuries as the rest of us, despite spending seventy quadrillion pounds on players and essentially sticking two fat fingers up to Financial Fair Play.
As for us, I’ve noticed twice in a week that Arsène has done something different to his team, changing things to get the best outcome for the team. I touched on it yesterday in my post-match write up, but his move to play Giroud instead of Walcott worked a treat and against Bayern he was very vocal about his decision to switch where Özil was playing to enable us to change our game in the second half. This is a manager famed for his inflexibility when it comes to tactical decisions, preferring the players to work out different ways to skin a cat, than taking Mourinho-esque (not that that is working right now though) decisions to haul players off at half time because something isn’t working.
I, we, you, them; we’ve all talked amongst our Arsenal supporting friendship circles about Wenger’s lack of rotation in the past, of his almost comedically timed substitutions (made so by the fact we can predict which minute a change will be made), but this old dog is perhaps coming around to new tricks and as well as that, he’s telling people about them too. Perhaps that’s it. Perhaps Arsène has always had thoughts like the Özil tactical change against Bayern, he’s just never felt the need to explain these to anybody, or perhaps he does but until recently it’s not made the final editions of the articles written by the journos that attend his press conferences?
Access to a vast array of information and data to the average man has made us all disciples of tactical, data-driven analysis and as such, it feels like “we had a good game today and managed to score more goals than the opposition” post match reaction simply isn’t enough. You only have to look at the fact that we all get a pre-match ‘Stats Zone‘ piece on the official site before the game, plus a scouting report from Michael Cox on each of the opponents we are about to play, then afterwards there is the excellent The Breakdown from Adrian Clarke. All of these are great pieces of content that we all happily lap up as we try to understand the details of any victory. We live in a world where the simple and watered down explanation is no longer acceptable. Everyone can give that. What we want is the details and Arsène is, perhaps (because it isn’t like it’s happening after every game, yet), recognising this and providing it to the assembled hacks to give an indication that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Who knows, I could be totally reading too much in to decisions that have been made over the last couple of games, and Arsène could just be doing what he’s always done. But the simple rotation of Giroud for Theo – especially after he’d told journos in his press conference a day earlier that Walcott was the number one choice – felt like it was something different. He’s always had the mantra that it’s better to just get eleven players that were well drilled and just better than the opposition in the past; think back to the Invincibles as a perfect case in point. If Thiery, Patrick et al were fit, they were playing. Because they were just better than all of the other teams and all of the other players on the pitch. There was no need for tactical shuffling up front when you have the world’s best striker at the time. So when you see Giroud preferred after Walcott has seemingly nailed down the centre forwards position, it’s hard not to think that Arsène has changed his mindset.
Of course, it could just be because we don’t have the world’s best striker any more (Bendtner jokes aside, or insert them here yourself if you like), so it’s not a decision Arsène needs to make. Or, he realises that with Bayern, Barcelona and Madrid already streaks ahead of us on a European level, as well as Moneychester City able to offer players small tropical islands in wages, we cannot financially attract the best striker in the world (whoever that may arguably be) and so must find two strikers of differing qualities to counter act any team. Because Arsène doesn’t have a Theirry to say “go out there and play and score in every game”.
Again, maybe I’m just rambling, maybe I’m just reading too much in to recent positive results, but right now I feel like we might – might – be on to something big.
Guess that’s what a good run of form does to you!
Anyway, you have a good day and I’ll catch you in the morrow for a pre-match Sheffield Wednesday chit-chat. Laters.