On a WhatsApp Arsenal group I’m part of there was a discussion yesterday about whether Liverpool getting a tonking by Leicester – who hadn’t scored in 2017 before yesterday – would be a good thing for Arsenal or not. Good question, and not one we’ll know until we rock up at Anfield next Saturday evening. Personally though, I’d be more upbeat if Liverpool had a midweek game a little closer in proximity to our own, because they’ll be a different animal at home.

They’ll also be working extra hard to put that defeat behind them. So I think it has probably done us no favours i fear. Of the little I watched the game Leicester hit Liverpool on the counter. That is unlikely to be the game plan for us on Saturday. Liverpool will press us high and that’s what catches us out these days. Which is a real shame, because I remember Arsène Wenger teams that would relish the opportunity for a team to press high and allow us to hit on the break. Remember those days? That rapid transition from front to back that could go from defence to attack in about five seconds? 

Loved those days. Incisive passing, deft flicks and a Thierry Henry who could literally ghost past any defender. 

These days it’s different. Our play is different. We have plenty of pace in our team – just look at Alexis, Walcott, Perez and even Iwobi – but we don’t utilise it for counter strikes like we used to. We have too many players who like to travel with the ball. Especially when Iwobi and Alexis are on the pitch. The Ox too, although he has been looking to pick out longer passes with his move in field. And when players hold on to the ball or attempt to take on a man, it does inevitably slow down possession. We don’t overload teams like we used to. When we used to hit teams on the break, you’d be talking about at least three players getting ahead of the ball rapidly. Nowadays it hasn’t been uncommon to see Alexis, or previously Giroud, in an advanced position with little support around him. 

If an Arsenal team who could pounce quickly on the counter were playing this Liverpool team on Saturday, I’d be licking my lips at the prospect of playing them. But with our current set up as it is, I do fear we’re going to fall under continuous and sustained pressure.

Still, at least the team has had time to reflect, recharge and prepare for the game properly, with no worries about fatigue at all. The players will have been a couple of days short of a full two weeks off, so I would hope that they’re all itching to get at Liverpool, although with the way we’ve been playing in 2017 you wouldn’t quite bank on it.

I just hope Arsène has taken some time to work out some kind of game plan.

Elsewhere in the Arsenal world, we appear to have lost our head of youth development, with Andries Jonker joining Wolfsburg as their Head Coach. I always think these kind of appointments are interesting when you see them overseas. Jonker clearly has a good reputation on the continent, because youd never see a Youth Coach promoted to Head Coach in England. We’re all about reputation in this country, yet overseas they all clearly feels like experimenting is something that is accepted more, so appointments like this one become a little more frequent. As for how it affects us, well, I’ll be darned if I know. His position was one that we never really see too much of. Ivan has given him a glowing reference on the official site and clearly he’ll be missed at Arsenal, but as a fan who’s primary focus is on the first team alone, I can’t really say that I understand what the long term implications of his departure are. During his time at the club we’ve seen Bellerin and Iwobi break through, but both have been at the club since before he joined and both were beneficiaries of fortune through injuries than an overwhelming need to get them in the first team at all cost. 

Is three years enough time to effectively make a mark on Arsenal? Or does he have a legacy of setting up processes and ways of working that might bear fruit in the next five years? 

No idea! But hopefully, as a man who has worked at Arsenal, he can go to Wolfsburg and turn them around, then sell us their best players if any show a level of ability that might have us sniffing around Wolfsburg!

Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday. We’re one day closer to the weekend and The Arsenal.