Moments and Momentum

Written by @ArsenalView_

 

It’s a good time to be an Arsenal fan right now. November is over, we have had our injury crisis and over the last couple of weeks, we are adding performance to our results. Over the course of the season so far, we have had many ground out results, with late winners, undeserved points won in ground out draws or wins, points which showed our resilience and the presence of winners with killer instincts in this team. Our attack and defense have improved vis-à-vis our performance in earlier seasons, but the biggest difference is in moments. This team grabs moments, a period of 10 to 15 minutes, when they grab the game by the scruff of the neck and kill it. Our unbeaten team and the 2001 team were especially good at this. Arsenal could suddenly blitz into the fifth gear and decide the game in ten minutes. That ability seems to be back now and the numbers back it up.

  • Watford- 2 goals in 5 minutes (40’ and 45’)
  • Hull- 2 goals in 7 minutes (83’ and 90’)
  • Chelsea- 2 goals in 3 minutes (11’ and 14’)
  • Swansea- 2 goals in 5 minutes (27’ and 32’)
  • Ludogorets (h)- 2 goals in 6 mins (41’ and 47’) and 2 goals in 4 mins (83’ and 87’)
  • Sunderland- 3 goals in 7 minutes (71’, 76’ and 78’)
  • West Ham- 3 goals in 6 minutes (81’ , 84’ and 87’)
  • Basel (a)- 2 goals in 8 minutes (8’ and 16’) and 2 goals in 6 minutes (47’ and 53’)

These fixtures represent 8 of the 13 wins we have had this season. Also, these numbers reflect only the goals, not the chances that have been created. From my memory of our performances, I would venture that our chances would be even more bunched together.

There is a perfectly logical reason for this, as well. It is reflective of a team that is able to win the ball back consistently on the front foot and penetrate, primarily with pace, repeatedly to create a breakthrough. This strategy has its physical demands and we commonly end up seeing a more placid spell as well. Hence, we are also seeing Arsene Wenger continuing to rotate his squad more. I would argue that there are only two areas of the pitch that he has shown no willingness to rotate for simple reasons

  • Central defense, where you want stability, and does not get involved with the blitz attacks consuming energy
  • Sanchez and Ozil, since the options to rotate them, leads to a significant drop in ability (without any disrespect to our players, you can’t have two versions of Sanchez and Ozil in the squad), change in style and disruption in momentum

We have created a momentum for ourselves by seizing these moments. We started off with a defensive structure after Mustafi joined us (His injury, potentially is a spanner in the works, but let’s leave that aside for the moment). We finished the top of the structure in attack before figuring out the midfield. The panache in the front third and the solidity in the defensive third helped us deliver results, despite the missing connections in midfield. And to this moments, we have added the connections over the last week, a structure in midfield, just in time before the hectic December.

A strong run of results without good performances could go either way. Last year, we ground out results and, then the results gravitated to our performances from November. This year, it seems our performances are gravitating towards our results and pushing it forward.

 

Gooner Ramble

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