Frank Lampard can’t understand why Arsenal show good work off the ball so inconsistently, after all the praise the Gunners received for industry on Saturday.
Arsenal seemed like a well-oiled machine against Spurs on Saturday, stepping up and dropping off whenever required.
The Gunners did similarly well against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but they were nowhere near as effective without the ball against Liverpool or Manchester City. Frank Lampard said in his column with the Evening Standard that he can’t understand what’s causing that change.
“It doesn’t make sense that they can play so well against Tottenham, just as they did against Chelsea in the FA Cup Final in May, but not do it more regularly. All I heard after the match was people talking about their great work off the ball, that they worked so brilliantly.
“But that confuses me because it should be the banker, the bare minimum. The easiest part is to work hard, run around and get tight to your opponent. The hardest part is playing passes through the eye of the needle and they have players like Mesut Ozil who can do that.
“If you only put in 60 per cent off the ball, you tend to put only 60 per cent when you have it. It has to come every week, you can’t switch it on and off.”
It’s true that Arsenal seem to have the opposite problem to many teams in the Premier League. I could name plenty of teams that work hard every week, but don’t necessarily have the talent to make that hard work count in the key moments.
The Gunners, on the other hand, have plenty of talent. Their inconsistent form must either be more to do with work rate, or an inability to stick to the system they’re supposed to be playing.
The team seem perfectly capable of changing their style to suit the opposition, as we saw against Spurs, or in the second-half of the Swansea match last month. So if they can play to that level, it’s a bit strange they don’t do so all the time.
I have to agree with Lampard that industry needs to be the minimum expectation from now on.