Moring folks and welcome to Saturday. How you doing? Y’alreet?
I’m fine, thanks for asking, although I did stay up too late watching The Good, The Bad and The Ugly last night and my body clock is such that it doesn’t matter what time I go to bed, I’m always up around 7am.
That’s not a problem, although my mind always does feel a little fuzzy so apologies if my incoherent babble is a little more…well…incoherent than usual.
I’m certainly not up for the tickets on sale at 9am for the game at home to Rapid Vienna. I’d love to be there, but my patience levels just don’t afford me the ability to sit watching the slow loading bar of death on the Arsenal ticketing site for hours, so I’ll leave it until the ballot and hope that I get in there for one of the other games.
The good news though is that at least we’ve got some words from Arteta to over-analyse this morning, as he has been interviewed by the official site and in it he speaks about how we will approach the game. Wolves have been back in the Premier League for two seasons already and on both occasions have been really impressive and picked up draws against us, so we know how hard it will be to get the three points on Sunday night, as does Arteta. Apparently they’ve done the ol’ switcharoo on formations last weekend, which means we could face a couple of scenarios against them, but Arteta has said they are preparing for both eventualities.
I have to say I am starting to wonder where the balance is between spending all of your time looking at an opponent and just doing it your own way. I don’t think either extremes work and I think where Arteta is currently searching is for a solution that is a blend. We don’t want to have a manager and a team so worried about the opposition that they don’t impose their own approach to a game; we got that under Emery and it went south very quickly in that second game. Equally though, we don’t want the “doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we play this way until the end and never look at what they might do” ways of Arsene Wenger. By the end of his rein at the club that model was outdated and we just came a-cropper to teams with managers that were smarter and knew how to play on our weaknesses.
That’s the approach we need to find. Forget about nullifying the opposition, look at where they are weakest, then look to try to exploit it. I’ve watched a couple of videos on them where some of their fans do a tactical analysis and they joke about Nuno’s team not really turning up for the first 45 minutes of games. Heh, that sounds familiar, but it does emphasize how we need to be better at taking our chances and doing it quicker. If a symptom of the Wolves side is that they take a while to get into their stride, it is incumbent on those Arsenal players to get the ball in the final third and make decent movement to find space early on.
One of the problems they have had is when pressed high, which Leicester did with them, which meant that they were under pressure from their back three to make mistakes and the high wing backs effectively man marking their opposites, ensured Wolves couldn’t get out of their half. So whilst we like to draw teams out and then try to break their press, I wonder how Arteta might try to adopt the high press approach if we do get a compact Wolves team?
Individual battles might be key too. Apparently Conor Coady in the middle of their defence is the main man with ball movement from back and so whoever plays in that central striking role, if he can close down and put the Wolves defender under pressure by closing space early, it could result in more turnovers and allow us to dominate.
These are the kind of considerations I hope that Arteta is thinking of right now. There is the personnel question he needs to think of too though, with a lot perhaps being dictated on which players are available and which are not as a result of injury or COVID protocols. Hopefully we’ll get some form of an update today and my hope is that it is a positive one. We know we don’t have Pepe but it will be good to see Saka back having had a week off since the Leeds game. Likewise I am hoping for Partey to return but on Wednesday whilst the official site was clear that Saka would be back for the Wolves game, they didn’t admit the same for Partey.
I think Elneny and Kolasinac will also remain side-lined as they complete their isolation, as the Egyptian and Bosnian FA’s confirmed the positive tests on 18th November. Two weeks from then is the 2nd December so that would rule them out this weekend, meaning we have to hope that we don’t have any knocks from Xhaka or Ceballos from Thursday. Both looked ok though so hopefully Arteta has some choice.
I hope we also get more news that is positive because I was also looking at what Nuno Espirito Santo was saying about us and I didn’t realise our flight back from Norway was cancelled on Thursday, which meant we travelled back yesterday instead. I don’t think it will make too much difference in terms of fatigue and tiredness, but right now it feels like any small thing against us could turn out to be a bigger thing.
Anyway, that’s enough for one day. I’m off for a bit of brekkie and to feed the cat.