Ahead of Arsenal’s game against Standard Liege on Thursday night, Matthew Wade discussed the possible team on this week’s Daily Cannon Weekly podcast, episode 215, and what that mean for how Arsenal play.
Both Tierney and Bellerin are going to be massively important for this team because they allow us to play a much more forward-thinking style of football. Not just because they are such good attacking fullbacks but also because their pace, recovery pace, and comparative solidity allows our midfield to be pushed slightly further forward.
It should also prevent what’s been stymieing us this season a bit which is the diamond midfield being played to an extreme where the likes of Guendouzi or Torreira are doing shuffle runs, covering the fullbacks, which isn’t really their strength and undermines their ability to contribute elsewhere on the pitch.
It also means that we can more readily stick to playing a front three with a more attacking third central midfielder, as opposed to packing the central midfield. We’ll be able to play a back four with our two attacking fullbacks who can really contribute at both ends of the pitch.
So while I don’t think it’s going to transform Emeryball into the most exciting Wengerball equivalent ever, it is definitely going to give us more tactical options and allow us to be a bit more adventurous, particularly in terms of possession.
That’s partly because, as we know from the statistics, neither Kolasinac nor Maitland-Niles are as secure in possession as Tierney or Bellerin. Despite Maitland-Niles being a technically proficient footballer, he’s never been a fullback, and how one receives and transfers the ball in that position is different to how you would do it if you were playing at centre midfield, number 10 or even as he was a few years ago as a right winger.
So, if Hector can come through the game against Standard Liege unscathed, then use the international break that’s coming up soon to complete his recovery, hopefully, by late October/November, he can be fully back in the running for a first team squad position in the league and that will obviously make a big difference to us.
The same applies to Rob Holding, of course, who we also expect to see against Standard Liege. I’m sure we’ll see lots more of the kids in this game.
Aubameyang will need a rest, particularly with Lacazette still not ready for a return. So hopefully we’ll see Martinelli get another run out against the Belgians and see how he can do, with maybe Aubameyang available on the bench if we need him.
I’d expect to see Nelson get another start. Maybe we’ll see Pepe. Smith-Rowe won’t be available, of course, following his concussion against Forest so we’re going to have one less option in the attacking third. Perhaps if he’s now getting picked week after week, Saka might need to be rested for this game too, which sounds ridiculous. Resting an 18-year-old who’s just breaking into the team, but that might be the reality of the situation.
Looking elsewhere, talking about Buyako Saka, Unai Emery has denied there’s any translation issue. You may remember there were some comments from Saka talking about slight communication issues and he finds it useful to communicate with Freddie Ljungberg.
However, Emery does suggest there’s no issue there. He’s spoke to him alone and prepared videos for him and he’s done it with all the different players in different languages, although sometimes he uses Ljungberg to help him get some more detailed points across.
I mean, we don’t know if it’s a language issue or not, but any of us who have seen any of Unai Emery’s press conferences know that perhaps he isn’t the most inspirational speaker in English and perhaps clarity is undermined by a slightly overly technical use of language, which gets meaning without feel.
One of the hardest things to learn when you’re speaking a new language is how to communicate in a way that resonates with people who are native speakers of that language rather than just using vocabulary, no matter how accurate.
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