Sunday, December 10, 2023

Jesus: Thou shalt kill

Morning all.

Slightly anxious times in this household this morning as Lana, the younger of the two German Shepherds, is set for hip replacement surgery. It’s been scheduled for some time, and I know it’s the right thing to do for her in the long-term, but dog owners will understand the worry and the fretting. And the guilt of leaving her at the vet yesterday.

Keep your fingers crossed for her, and if anyone has any experience/advice about the post-op recovery and how to manage that with regards a very active dog who needs to basically stay still, I’d be very grateful. We have a crate for her, but beyond that, any tips would be very welcome. You can email ‘thearseblog at arseblog dot com’.


I enjoyed this from Gabriel Jesus, speaking after the Man Utd game on Sunday:

“We are not happy, because we played so much better [than United]. But that’s football, if you don’t go there and kill, you are going to have a big problem — and that’s what happened today.”

It chimes with what Mikel Arteta said about turning that dominance into chances. I’m sure you’ve seen the stats by now. We had 47 touches in the United box compared to 17 for them; 16 shots to their 10, but only 3 on target to their 6. So while there’s encouragement that we could go there and play well, we have to be more ruthless in front of goal.

Some of that is obvious: the Martin Odegaard chance created by Jesus which the captain should have scored from, instead he miskicked. Some of it less so, but it feels like we were too keen to create the Goldilocks shooting chance, making one more pass, one more flick, to create perfection when maybe we need to pull the trigger a bit earlier.

It’s a bit early to say this is an ongoing issue, because we’d won five in a row coming into this one, and this team has certainly developed over the last 12-18 months. One of my big concerns as we built towards this point was the fact we were quite shot-shy but so far this season (on top of the progress we made last season), we’re a lot more active. Let’s look at the games so far.

Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal

Shots: 10
Shots on target: 2

Arsenal 4-2 Leicester

Shots: 19
Shots on target: 7

Bournemouth 0-3 Arsenal

Shots: 14
Shots on target: 6

Arsenal 2-1 Fulham

Shots: 22
Shots on target: 8

Arsenal 2-1 Aston Villa

Shots: 22
Shots on target: 9

Basically, we have out-shot and out-scored the opposition in every Premier League game this season bar Sunday. We had more shots than United, but they had more on target, and obviously scored more goals. In the end that’s what counts, and I’m sure that’s something the manager will be working on. However, when you consider the frustration of the not-too-distant past when we barely seemed to shoot at all, this feels like a better place to improve from.

Jesus continues:

Now is the time to learn from it and improve. We are doing so well this season, but there are still things to improve for everyone.

I like the mindset though. Kill or be killed. This is the Premier League and you know if you don’t take your chances, almost every team has sufficient quality and ability to punish you. When you marry that with some structural mistakes, which I think were caused by the triple substitution, you end up with what we saw on Sunday. The improvement doesn’t just come on the pitch, it can also be how in-game management can impact the performance too.

What’s interesting to me about this is how we respond. There’s a Europa League game on Thursday which is a good chance to restore a bit of confidence, but you’ll remember last season defeats tended to come in bunches and that’s another one of the key areas for improvement this season in my opinion.

Every team is going to lose, but it’s how well you react and how you isolate the Ls that sets a good team apart from a very good team. Those sequences of three defeats in a row, or three defeats from four games, are so damaging to the ambition of this season where top four seems to be the minimum requirement. I’m certain that when the manager and his staff did their deep dive on last season, that is something they highlighted because when you look at the results it sticks out like a sore thumb.

We need our thumb to be much less painful this season.

Right, that’s it for this morning. Have a good one, more here tomorrow as we start to look forward to Europe on Thursday.

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