Happy Monday folks – hope we’re all fine and dandy? I kicked off a booze free few weeks yesterday (well, technically because of the COVID it was from Tuesday last week, but I’m not counting that just yet) and so I’ve woken up this morning without a fuzzy head and that, dear friends, is pretty good for me. Whether or not the muppets at PGMOL headquarters are feeling the same, or whether Howard Webb and his cronies have been driven to the bottle as a result of their mistakes this weekend remains to be seen, with Matty Turner ‘getting away with one’ yesterday when he clattered a Brentford striker in the box with no repercussions. Honestly, if you’re in Howard Webb’s position, surely you’re in the process of just bussing in referees from overseas, just so so you clean out all of the old toot from the current crop of North West Boys Club Corner currently clogging the halls of whether their HQ is. Just ring the changes my friend, you’ll get so much more credit from the English footballing world if you do.
As for us, well, it was a rather lovely and uneventful weekend, all truths told. We did our job, bagged a fair few goals and thanks to that goal difference we now have a very respectable +9 after seven games. We’ve conceded the second least goals in the league behind City and that is in large parts down to our away form, in which we are yet to register a goal conceded in three games. Of course that won’t last forever, but the fact that we are doing so well away and yet still struggle at home is kind of a weird one. Lack of concentration, perhaps? We’ve conceded six goals in four games at home and that has to stop if we are going to kick on and mount any kind of proper challenge for anything sexy this season. Heck,12 teams have conceded less than us in the league, including bloody Everton, for crying out loud!
It must be a lack of concentration brought about by the fact we are usually so dominant in games. Most teams that come to the Emirates drop in to a low block and as a result we have most of the ball and spend most of the time camped in their half. If I think about the goals we have conceded through being hit in transition, it feels like almost all of them. Forest away was a counter from a corner of ours, Fulham’s were silly mistakes but it happened when we weren’t set properly or focused enough, United’s came from a loose Havertz ball on the edge of the United box that Eriksson pounced on and fed to Rashford. For the Scum it was a Jorginho mistake on their second that led to their second equaliser but because of that turnover we weren’t again set properly. So it does feel like because of our ball dominance and desire to be pressing higher up the pitch to control the ball in an opposition box, that we have ceded some of the defensive solidity that we have had previously when at home.
Of course away from home it is different. The onus is always on the home team to be more adventurous and as a result they naturally press higher. That affords us more space in between defences and midfields and I think it could be a reason as to why we are getting more joy and looking more naturally solid away from home; we have more space to move the ball around because teams are spread further across the pitch, but perhaps also we know that we are going to be under pressure a bit more and so we naturally sit a little deeper.
This is, of course, just my ‘eye test’. I have no major data to back that up and I’m not really a data and stats guru, so even if I did have the ability to better interpret it, it may not show that. But there must be a reason as to why this has happened and not just happened this season, but last season too. Last season we conceded 25 goals at home and just 18 goals away. Our goals scored were massively in favour of the home form as you’d expect, but away from home we had the best record in the Premier League last season. So this isn’t a new phenomenon for us. But it is something I’m sure Arteta and his coaching staff are aware of, hopefully they are doing more work and assessment on how we can correct the home form side of it though.
For now, however, thoughts turn to another away game and tomorrow evening we travel to RC Lens. We touched briefly on it yesterday as I exited the Same Old Arsenal pod yesterday and I mentioned that I hope Arteta does a lot of rotation. I doubt he will, but his press conference will be at some stage today, maybe even this morning I suspect as the team then make the short trip to the North of France to play Lens in the Champions League tomorrow night at 8pm. I guess a lot of the chatter and discussion will be about who is physically fit to play them and whilst Arteta isn’t usually minded to give away too much about team selection in these pre match pressers, I suspect he’ll be looking at some of the knocks sustained over the last week and thinking about how he can maybe undertake a wee bit of a re-jig. Will we get an inkling of that in his comments today? Maybe. But I do think he should be thinking about a fair bit of rotation. We’ve got the likes of Tomiyasu, Trossard and Vieira who have all been playing well and wouldn’t it kill you to give Ramsdale the nod in goal to give him some Champions league minutes? I’ll do more on possible team line ups and the way the game might pan out tomorrow, but I hope today we get an idea on whether he will be mixing it up a bit; let’s not forget that we have a rather big game on Sunday this coming weekend against a certain treble winning Champions team in the league.
Right, I’m off for the day so I’ll catch you wonderful people tomorrow. Have a good one.