Even if they had one eye on the Wembley weekend ahead, it’s hard to be upbeat about Arsenal, following the recent North London ‘derby’ defeat.
Once again, sloppy defending cost the Gunners dearly. Quite who Kolasinac was passing to in the first half for Tottenham’s goal, only he could tell you.
However, I still believe the system is at fault rather than the players. Kolasinac is not normally known for that level of sloppiness. If Xhaka had done it, I wouldn’t have been so surprised, but the Swiss has improved his game of late and that must be acknowledged.
Equally, this penchant for playing the ball out of defence needs to be changed. What good is possession, if you gift the opposition goals more often than not? Surely, there is another way to get the ball from A to B to C.
I think the time has come for a new way of playing to be invented. Players without the ball need to be dragging defenders out of position and then sometimes the long-ball tactic can work. One thing is certain: Arsenal need to mix up their game as they were far too predictable against Spurs.
Arteta’s worked wonders with this team and he can go on to be a great manager. Nevertheless, he needs to ditch this predilection for thinking possession is all-important. If you don’t hurt the opposition when you have the ball, what’s the point of retaining it?
One of the problems for Arsenal is their only incisive passer is sidelined with a severe case of ‘can’t be bothereditis’. It’s going to be interesting to see how Arteta goes about solving this problem. Will he bring someone in during the transfer window? The chances are he won’t, as the scouting network has been trimmed back. Therefore, he’ll need to coach one of the youngsters and make him Arsenal’s new number 10. To be honest, I’m not sure that’s possible with the current crop.
Ceballos, if he stays, may improve with the right kind of coaching, but it’s hard to see him turning into a new Bergkamp, Fabregas or even Ozil. I personally think Ceballos flatters to deceive. He may be an upgrade on Rosicky of old, but that’s about it.
If Ceballos is signed permanently, Arteta may be able to develop him into the creative force that Arsenal need. Despite my reservations about Ceballos, I have full faith in Arteta’s coaching of individual players.
The only doubt I have about Arteta is regarding his almost religious devotion to playing the ball out from the back. However, the Spaniard seems to be intelligent enough to learn from his mistakes. The ‘mister’ may have been outsmarted by the ‘master’ this time, but I wouldn’t be so sure of the same happening next season or even in the only game that still counts: versus Man City in the FA Cup semi-final.