Cracking opening weekend of football that was.
Weather was great, beers were drunk, and football was won.
Arsenal were simply superb as they brushed away Fulham with ease.
We are perhaps beginning to see Mikel Arteta’s game plan; and it is perhaps best describe by saying “tactical fluidity”.
We seemed to be lining up 343, but very rarely did players find themselves in that position.
Rob Holding and Gabriel were almost playing like back 2, whilst Kieran Tierney seemed to spend more time on the left wing than in central defence.
On the right hand side, Hector Bellerin rarely defended, and Willian was rarely got chal on his boots.
Alexandre Lacazette dropped deep so often that he almost made it a midfield 3 between Granit Xhaka and Mo Elneny.
And then we have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left hand side and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Where exactly Maitland-Niles was playing, no one knows. He was left wing, striker, inside Aubameyang, outside Aubameyang. Fulham could not cope.
Whilst we played with a lot of tactical freedom, it was not chaos. This was not Arsenal players not know where they were supposed to be. Every player seemed to know exactly where to stand, when to make the run, who to pass too.
We did it against Manchester City in the FA Cup, against Liverpool in the Community Shield and again on Saturday against Fulham.
Play a few risky passes in our right back position, drawing the opponents in, the opposing winger, full back and central midfielder. That in turn pulls the opponents across to our right hand side.
Then BANG! A quick break down the right before a cross field ball to Aubameyang who is standing on the left flank, unmarked, due to the left back tucking in to cover as the team drifted left.
That gives Aubameyang the time to bring the ball down, and drive into the middle at pace. Goal.
It is clearly a trap that Arteta has set up. Draw the opponents in before breaking at speed.
It is so hard to defend against because if teams do not drift left to cover players trying to press Arsenal in the corner, Arsenal would then have the freedom of the right hand side to attack (A quick ball from Bellerin over the winger and full back, down the right flank to Nicolas Pepe or Willian would see him clean through on the right).
The only way to really defend against the play is to not get drawn in. Do not try and press Bellerin and Holding in that right hand corner. But that in turn allows Arsenal to easily bring the ball out.
When you compare Arsenal’s game to Tottenham, you can see the difference between having a young, forward thinking manager and a tactical dinosaur.
It was not just that Arsenal won and Spurs lost, but the manner in which both played.
Tottenham were easily the worst team I saw play over the weekend – and Jose Mourinho is already being overly critical of his own players.
It could fall apart for Spurs quickly this season. Could a relegation battle ensue?
Anyway, this week will be a big one for Arsenal. Expect plenty of sales.
It’s interesting to see the players understand what positions they’re supposed to take. They won’t be caught out of position either, like Xhaka usually is during Emery’s tenure.
Ahhhh, the sweet smell of progress!
Now we have been made hard to beat. Now when out of possession we make it difficult for the other team. Not only Fulham but Liverpool, City and Chelski. First time since George Graham. It didn’t matter so much when Wenger had great players but what a huge frustration that he refused to worry about defending for the last 10 years of his power.