Friday, March 31, 2023

Matt Turner’s Arsenal adaptation

I didn’t watch last night’s World Cup qualifier between Scotland and Ukraine. In truth, like most of the international football coming up in the next couple of weeks, it wasn’t really on my radar.

Ukraine won, and will now face Wales for a place at the tournament in Qatar in November. I have nothing really to say about the game or what the win means or what the Ukrainian players have been through, but it reminded me that the war and all the horror that goes with it has become just another part of the news cycle, and it’s kind of terrible how that happens.

I’ve seen the pictures, the destruction, the injuries and deaths, and at this point I’m sure that’s barely scratching the surface of what’s happening because of the warmonger in the Kremlin whose pal owned Chelsea – and whose companies potentially served the Russian military – up until just last week. It’s kinda fucked up, eh?

Still, we have transfers to worry about and a fit and proper person test for the Premier League to ignore. We care about Ukraine so no more Roman, but seeing as Saudi Arabia is just bombing the shit out of Syria Yemen it’s all good in Newcastle. Fog on the Tyne lads. Don’t breathe it in though, it could be white phosphorous.

Anyway, football is an escape once you don’t let your mind wander, and there was an interesting piece in The Athletic (£) about Matt Turner, the USA international goalkeeper who will join this summer. I enjoyed the part about him being a fan of the Premier League and Arsenal, and sitting in bars with fellow fans to watch the games. It’s funny to think someone might have noticed some kid sitting there and now he’s going to be an Arsenal player.

What I found curious was him talking about his own game, and while I think we all know there’s a difference in level between MLS and the Premier League, I wonder a little about his own style of play:

“The style of play with the Revolution is mighty old school. If there’s pressure, we don’t really try to play out of it too much.

“At Arsenal, the goalkeepers are required to play a little bit more with the ball, playing in the system rather than just sort of going out there. They have to follow tactics and game plans a little more closely. Those are things that I know are valued with the national team that I’ll be challenged more with Arsenal.

“In December and January, I got to spend weeks at a time with the national team in buildup to games. And in all those games, I feel like I was pretty solid with the ball at my feet.

“Apart from the one blip in Canada, pretty solid connecting passes, making the right decisions. And then I don’t train exactly like that when I’m with the Revs, so I lose it. I get it for a couple of weeks, then I lose it. Now I’ll be training that way all the time.”

Given how important playing out from the back is – and was during our most successful periods last season – it’s perhaps a bit strange that we’ve gone for a goalkeeper who, from what I’ve read, is first and foremost a good shot stopper but who needs work on that other aspect of his game.

I assume we’ve done our due diligence, and watched him sufficiently to make an assessment that this is an area in which he can improve, but nevertheless it does seem a little incongruous. It’s a bit like the chalk and cheese thing I mentioned with Tomiyasu and Cedric. To be fair, in this instance, Cedric wasn’t bought to back-up Tomi, he was inherited from Raul’s tenure as Head of Football and – being as diplomatic as I can be – I think there was approximately zero football strategy involved in that decision.

This time around though, we have a keeper in Aaron Ramsdale whose prowess on the ball surprised people, and fed directly into how we want to play. Matt Turner, while not quite the opposite, is certainly different for now. As I said though, they might see a lot of room for improvement in him, and maybe it’s also a case that we put too much stock in the second choice keeper who, for the most part, is going to spend most of the season on the bench.

However, I’d also be really interested to know who drove our interest in him above any of the other potential candidates. Last summer, as Edu touted fellow Brazilian Neto, Mikel Arteta insisted on Aaron Ramsdale. When Emi Martinez left, they brought in Alex Runarsson, seemingly on the recommendation of the goalkeeping coach who had worked with him before, so there’s a mixed bag there in terms of decision making.

It goes without saying, the same as any with other signing, that I hope he is a success for us, and any judgement obviously waits until he plays. By his own admission, he has plenty to work on though.

Finally for today, we reached another Arseblog milestone yesterday as Arseblog News turned 11. We will continue to bring you the best coverage of the club from men to women, from top to bottom as we can, all the while doing our best to separate the wheat from the chaff, the click from the bait, because there’s too much of that out there these days.

To all of you who get your Arsenal news, stats, ratings, and transfer rumours rated with a Poo-O-Meter, thank you so much.

Till tomorrow.

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