An earlier start than usual for me, coupled with Sunday night drinking, means that it’s a groggy Monday morning blog I’ll be compiling for you today.
The weather is like my mood when it comes to The Arsenal these days too: pretty foul.
It’s West Ham away tonight and after seeing the team put in yet another dire performance on Thursday night at home to Brighton, I’m not hoping for any kind of swashbuckling football to take place at The London Stadium. Frankly we’re just not that good, but from a confidence perspective, we’re also on our knees. We’re the only side in the division who hadn’t won a game in our last six going into this round of matches and looking at the performance on Thursday you could tell. Disorganised, disjointed, without a functioning midfield and with players arguing with each other. It’s hardly the best prep for an away game.
So how does Freddie turn it around? How do we see this Arsenal team reverse its current slide?
I think first and foremost it would be nice to see players picked in their natural positions. So let’s have Torreira told to sit as a deep lubing midfielder, let’s have Tierney start, let’s have Özil at 10 and let’s play with wingers. Why not give Martinelli and Pepe a run out with Auba through the middle? Lacazette’s form has been poor and as people are now demonstrating by wheeling out the stats, he also doesn’t do it away from home, so we might as well try to get a better balance to the attack by playing players who are more naturally suited to hugging the touchline. Playing the likes of Auba on the left or right is criminal. Don’t do it, Freddie, we implore you.
It would be nice to see Arsenal be more compact in midfield too and not leave massive gaps between the attacking section of our team and just in front of our defence. Brighton exploited it again and again on Thursday and you have to think that West Ham will be looking to do the same. So I just hope Freddie has taken some kind of notice of just how shoddy we were in transitions and is going to do something about it tonight. He’s talked about doing something but we’ve yet to see any evidence based on the Brighton game.
West Ham played what looked like a 4-4-1-1 formation in their last game with Felipe Anderson sitting behind Haller up top. Haller is a burly handful of a centre forward and so I’m not expecting anything other than a difficult bight for our rubbish centre halves – whoever is picked – but I’m also a little worried about Anderson. I watched him against the Totts and he was invisible, but every time he’s played against us I’ve seen a fine player on form, so I’m fully expecting an Anderson popping up in spaces and causing us problems tonight.
I suspect they’ll look to Yarmolenko and Fornals to exploit our full backs and with Cresswell and Fredericks we could find that we’re overloaded out wide. As I’ve already mentioned and as Freddie has also pointed out, we’re not very good when in transition and so my worry is that we see a game in which Arsenal dominate possession in the final third, can’t find any kind of defence-splitting final ball, which leads to turnover of possession and being exposed on the flanks. To be fair though, we’re so bad in the middle of the park we could see the same from Arsenal through the middle too.
I think the only way we get anything from this game is if we score first. We need the home fans to get on their teams’ backs a little and that only happens if we don’t give them cause for hope. So what we have to hope for is that we score the first goal and then hold on for dear life.
And that’s how low we’ve sunk right now that I’m talking about ‘hanging on for dear life’ away from home to West Ham. It’s dark days at the moment, but let’s just cross everything that we get a performance with a bit of heart tonight, as well as a lot of structure and discipline.
Catch y’all tomorrow.