BIGGER PICTURE THINKING BABY – Le Grove – The Arsenal Opinion Blog

Well, good morning to you all. I’m on tornado watch this morning. Secretly, kind of exciting until my house blows away.

How about I blow you away with some stats?

This stat has people SWIRLING🌪️

Firstly, you have to move past our striker situation. It hasn’t been handled well since we gave out Auba a new deal. His form crashed harder than anyone expected, he couldn’t do what the system needed, his mere presence in the starting 11 made us less potent overall. It is what it is. Sadly, we had the chance to sign Tammy last summer, Arteta wanted him, but it was a one in one out policy at the club. No one wanted Auba, no one wanted Lacazette, and Eddie was going to see out the final year of his deal.

Auba went off the rails badly. He went from the most clinical striker in the league to a complete non-entity in 12 months. You could say it’s how he was managed, but it’s a bit of stretch to claim a manager that battled to give him a £350k a week deal was anti-Auba. The big Arteta miss is that he always knew what he needed from a striker and he knew that Auba was never going to be that. It’s a bit of a young manager thing, to rely on experience, we’ve seen Stevie G fall into the trap of older players, and Xavi seems to be going all in on it with Auba and apparently Lewa this summer.

Alex Lacazette was a good stop-gap, but now he looks spent. Eddie Nkeitiah hasn’t been given minutes which was a big mistake on the part of Arteta and we’ll probably find that one out the hard way when he leaves.

But if you put that to one side…

Arsenal are 3 points from 4th with a game in hand and we have the worst conversion rate in 2022 across the top 5 leagues. That is a positive for our future. It means we’re competitive without having a striker. Where do you think Spurs would be if they had our striking options? In the gutter.

If we moved from converting 3 goals in 2022 to 10, where would we be in the league? How would that have changed certain games in 2022? We’d have more points. We’d see out games faster. We’d be more competitive against the big teams. The reality with Arsenal is you cannot count on a finish from our striker and deeper than that… we don’t get on the end of plenty of good balls because the mobility isn’t there. Our system should be producing more big chances and it will when you have a Nunez/Toney/Isak/Oshimen/David like character fronting the system.

I think I wrote last summer that we need to cut out 50% of the unforced errors and be 20% more efficient in front of goal. I’m not sure we’ve been better in front of goal, though it’s clear the system is producing far more chances, but we have reduced unforced errors this season, or at a minimum, reduced our unforced errors to occasional horrendous games. We’ve conceded 36 goals in the league this season, which ain’t great. But 36% of those goals came from our first three games + a Liverpool blowout. In the other 26 games, we managed 14 clean sheets. We’re also conceding less shots, the 4th best in the league.

So piece that together: We’re creating a lot. We’re conceding very little. We have the youngest team in the league that lacks a striker and any sort of depth.

This is an opportunity, not doom.

As fans, we all clamor for instant success, forgetting the world that Arsenal live in doesn’t give us the tools to achieve that. You can get those Kimmy K butt implants, but they’ll be uneven, and explode when you least expect. If Arsenal wants a great ass, it’s going to have to do things the hard way, power squats, and kale smoothies for 3 years.

It is not an insight to say we needed more players. Eveyrone at Arsenal knows that. But if you don’t have the money or the space to buy everything you need, you have to make sacrifices along the way. Could we have spent the money we did have differently? You could argue that. But everyone always has a way to cut the money differently and it’s down to the manager to make those decisions. Could Bernd Leno have done the job this season? Maybe. Could William Saliba have done what Ben White has? Maybe. But if you buy more players with less, you are taking more risks. What do we know about Arsenal fans? There’s no forgiveness for young players that struggle. Just look at the idiot commentary on ESR from the weekend for evidence of that.

The path we’ve chosen is the only way if you want sustainable success in the long term. There’s no point in landing in the big leagues if you can’t win once you’ve unpacked. Arsenal are baking up a project that will rise at the right time, that will have a sustainable future. Well, that’s the hope at least.

People pollute the comments in Le Grove and call this excuse-making, it’s not, it’s just reality, and a chunk of our very online fanbase don’t understand that. They live in a world where Unai Emery, Matteo G, and Aubamayeng were wronged. These are ‘on paper’ arguments that wouldn’t pass the muster of an in-person chat at a pub.

Unai Emery is having a great run in the Champions League, good for him, he is doing great things at a club that matches who he is as a coach. There’s a big difference in business between a start-up CEO and a Google CEO. It’s the same in football. Carlo A isn’t saving you from relegation, but he did a mighty fine job managing massive egos into something that resembled a team. Don Unai isn’t good with big players, but he is great with players that need the next step, and his ideas to get them there. The reality of his points and goals haul at Arsenal is it was underpinned by an incredible luck streak that had such strong data points underpinning it… they pulled his deal. So bad, even Dirty Don Raul had to double take. Then factor in the language issues, becoming a Premier League meme, his lack of power to dictate needs, his inability to structure a defence, his weak handling of Ramsey and Ozil, his destruction of our creativity, the fact he let someone from his staff put a fucking circus tent in the car park for a kids party… someone at the club told me ‘this just isn’t Arsenal at all’ because it was so bad. So when your mate in the groupchat whines that we shouldn’t have sacked him, call them a double melt and exit the group. You don’t need friends like that.

… but more to the point. Julian Nagelsmann, one of the best young managers on the planet, with the best German team, dropping to a team worth less than the right leg of Serge Gnabry. Thomas Tuchel, rockstar manager, GQ model, Champions League winner, out of the CL at the quarter-finals to a weak Madrid side, 3rd in the league, his £100m striker on the bench.

‘But Arteta makes mistakes’… yes, so do all managers. That is football. The bigger picture is what matters and our bigger picture is still looking good.

Anyway, rant over my darlings. See you in the comments.


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