Wild animals survive day to day by following a strict routine. Any Maverick behavior will probably 9 out of 10 times get you killed. So if an Impala sees a Lion it runs and runs until danger is gone, that’s how it’s able to survive. Animals are born with some behaviors that allow them to cope with their environment, wildebeest calves for example are able to run faster than Usain Bolt a few minutes after they have been born. I saw on the discovery channel on one day young male lions that clearly hadn’t come across honey badgers before trying to practice hunting on them. They learned pretty quickly that the ill-tempered honey badgers are not to be messed with. The young lions went back to their dens with honey badger bite marks to show for their troubles.
A lot might be wondering what the African Savannah has to do with Arsenal. I wanted to write a piece last week but I felt there was a missing piece in the puzzle which for me was the Chelsea game. To me this game was where I was going to learn about where our Arsenal ship was pointed and how Arsene has evolved his ideas. Arsene for the start of the season has been pragmatic; he knows that teams that win the championship defend well. We seem to have swapped places with Manchester United in terms of last season we were leaking goals at an incredible pace. History proves it that the team that concedes the least goals usually goes to win the league. Football is a game of momentum and even in tight games as long as the defence keeps solid then there is a better chance of getting at least a point. If the defence is weak then you get pegged back before you know it you are chasing the game and then Blackburn Rovers last season happens.
Football like any other theory in life in this piece I used an example of an African jungle is about good habits, Its about continuity, so that means not rocking the boat by changing the personnel too much. Again back to good habits, if players keep on playing together again and again and again partnerships are formed they understand each other and usually there are no surprises. The positive thing I suppose this season is that You can’t name more than 2 games where the opposition scored because simply of good play but mostly to mistakes. The bad news it that we were one of the teams last season that conceded the least goals in open play. Carl Jenkinson, Per Mertesacker are an example of players with good habits, they keep everything simple they follow the same formula over and over again. This has contributed to the defence being very mean this season. Rocking boat doesn’t have to be a change of personnel because its unrealistic to ask the same players to play all 38 games of a season, it’s just not possible but not rocking the boat is also about how the personnel you bring affects the dynamics of the team. Just back to good habits for a second, when I heard Arsene had gone for Koscielny and Vermaelen and Ramsey I instantly thought the old chap has let his bad habits creep in again. Koscielny and Vermaelen first of all are both under 6 feet and secondly they are similar. Both very good defenders of the highest quality but their defending styles are too similar and they do not complement each other very well. With Aaron Ramsey’s selection Arsene looked to flood the midfield area to deny Chelsea of possession nullifying their main threats. The season he also went with that Central midfield pairing was to counteract Chelsea’s tricky players like Torres, Mata, Oscar and Hazard.
One of the qualities of Per Mertesacker which people saw a lot during the game against Man City was how well he reads the game. Per doesn’t chase the players around but he reads where the players want to play through their passes. He is one of those intelligent players that understand the play around them and spots danger early. In contrast Koscielny and Vermaelen are defenders that follow the play they are ball playing defenders that probably wouldn’t look uncomfortable in midfield.
Sometimes Arsene lives in a Utopian world where he sees 11 players that play completely fluid football. In the premier league you cannot have 11 technically gifted football players on the pitch, you have to have schemers players like Mertesacker that read the game better than the players around them and I hope for the next match Arsene goes back to what made arsenal very solid. In his pre-match interview Arsene pretty much conceded it probably was not a good idea to play those 2. I cannot say if Mertesacker and Vermaelen had played we would have won, but my comeback to that is that a team requires continuity and good habits. The team that played Chelsea displayed the bad habits that have stopped Arsenal progressing in the past seasons.
So I hope this chapter has taught Arsene that in the jungle bad habits well you can get away with them once in a while but you will get punished for them sooner or later, same applies to the players. Very glad Jack Wilshire is making his comeback this week and he will be LANS (like a new signing) and a big signing as well. There were positives to the Chelsea match and we will keep getting better and hopefully at the end have some silverware to show for it.
Till Next time