Oh hello Buzzfeed headline 2014. Here’s a quick run down of what I’d like to see this evening.
1.A lite version of what our future attacking structure could look like
It’s dangerously close to the end of the transfer window. There’s no Aouar yet. There might not be. We are absolutely toothless, still.
What I can’t have is that there is no way to play attacking football this year without that one player. If we are really going into the season with the least creative midfield in the league, that is pure negligence. I would LOVE to see a lite version of where this process is heading. Is there a young player that can play in the pockets, like ESR? Will we give Saka a role at #10? Is there a system the younger players will be put in that can at least guide the way this evening? I hope so. We can’t pin out hopes on Auba all season. Leeds are out signing Cusiance from Bayern. If they can shower teams in shots on their budget, we should be able to do something.
2. The future of our CB spine
Tonight, one would assume, we’ll get to see Willy Saliba and Gabriel in the centre of defence together in their first competitive match. This is exciting on many levels. The two of them are very capable with the ball at their feet, they have the requisite height to make us hard to attack from setpieces… the question is, do they have the power and wherewithal to deal with an explosive Premier League team this early? We shall see. We’re mostly here to see where Saliba is in his development, hopefully he surprises everyone with an elite performance.
3. The future of the #13
I can’t remember the last time we had a #13 back-up keeper. Manninger? It almost feels a bit quaint. I like it, but will I like the keeper wearing the jersey? He’s handsome, no doubt. But good? Who knows. Arteta and his coaching staff took a big gamble binning off Emi Martinez. Tonight, we’ll get a glimpse at whether Iñaki Caña, the keeping coach, has good taste in students. Runar had some pretty grim stats from his time in Ligue 1 last season. Are we rescuing a diamond in the rough, or are we making the mistake City did at the beginning i.e. signing a keeper who can play passes like Pirlo, but couldn’t catch the ‘rona in an emergency ward sneeze box? This game will be a huge baptism of fire, longballs, and shots… will it be Massimo Taibi? Or Alex Manninger? We’ll soon find out.
4. What is a Willock?
Arsene liked him. Emery liked him. Freddie LOVED him. Arteta likes him.
What is it about Joe Willock they all love? Because I’d really like to see some of it on the box tonight.
We know he makes excellent runs off the ball. We know he can dribble. We know he can move at speed. We know he is capable of goals and assists… can we see it happen at some point? If he splutters again this season, he’ll be out in the summer. This is make or break.
Time to shine, Joe. We believe in you.
5. How quickly can we adapt to being found out?
I pontificated before the last Liverpool game over whether teams in the top 6 would suss us this season. We are very well drilled now. We defend better, our off the ball movement is great, our pressing is very good. However, we’re a bit robotic. Klopp knew how we’d try and attack down the left in the last game and he tried to deal with it (we still scored from the left). We need some new party tricks, we can’t get by on the same one all season. Now Liverpool knows where to double up and over-commit in the press, what is the plan? Could we do something mad like play down the right? Are we going pure long ball? Would we dare play through the middle? We were sussed the other night. There needs to be some innovation in how we play or the same will happen tonight.
Oh, how about a 6th point… WIN 4-0. Amirite? Of course I am.
Enjoy the game, I’ll see you in the comments. Come at me with your bullet points!
P.S. Congrats to Saka on his England call up. To commit to the three lions on Nigerian Independence Day. Man is going to the very top. Cold as ice. A natural killer. What a talent!