The Arsenal social media team have been busy trying to fill the void with absolutely zero footballs being kicked in the present time.
They have attempted to cover the gap we are all feeling with harks back to some of our finest moments in recent memory. Matches, goals and seasons that have their own special slot in our memory banks have been brought to us for our viewing pleasure, with sweet nostalgia emanating from our mobiles as we while away the hours during lockdown.
While watching some of our more devastating football – top ten goals from our finest players, European and domestic heroics – it became evident that our style of football has changed inexorably in the last seven or eight years – toward the end of Wenger’s reign.
While watching these halcyon moments, my eyes were beholden to swift, ruthless attacks that even the most robust of defences couldn’t stymie. Out wide, switching positions, fluid movements – it was so difficult to track. A big part of our game was the narrowness of our wingmen, from Ljungberg to Nasri, Bobbi to Hleb, they never stayed still and often supported the attack with blind runs behind the defence. It gave us a three dimensional edge and also overloaded zones.
In short, it was a nightmare to stop.
What we have seen since is that the onus is on a playmaker to create. We still have widemen who cut in and let fly and make dangerous runs, but in terms of loading the bullets, it’s primarily the work of a solitary few.
Whereas in the past, our central men, our wingers, our strikers were all capable of materialising a chance.
The speed of our passing has also slowed down on average. Watch one of our matches in the last three or four seasons and on average, we distribute a lot slower than we did in peak Wenger years.
What does this mean? Well, it is a lot easier to deal with, but it’s also not as fun to watch. That doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of scoring eye-catching goals. Anyone who has been to a game in the last few campaigns has seen us produce some beautiful stuff but it is different and it is not produced as frequently.
With Arteta’s philosophy keen on moving the ball forward a lot quicker than we do presently, we can expect this to improve.
First things first though, football returning would be great.
Still, those videos are great to watch!