The consensus in the English media is that Arsenal had an easy victory against Crystal Palace and pretty much everything seemed alright with the team. Nevertheless, things are not as fine as they seem on the surface, and Arsenal clearly lack the individual and collective ability to be the champions of the Premier League this season. Although I completely support the way Arsene Wenger runs his team, I must say that their opponents manage to create top-class teams while Arsenal still struggle with the same problems. First of all, as Arsene Wenger pointed out when explaining his views about Olivier Giroud's fantastic goal, Arsenal's strategy is about collective movement, utilizing group talent rather than relying on the individual. But the reason why this approach is not popular and most coaches opt for individualistic solutions is that collective action requires a lot of qualities that a group of players must develop together over a considerable period of time. One of them, which I think Arsenal need most right now, is the collective awareness in attack and defense. This is the quality that signifies the players' perceptual capacities regarding the positioning and the movement of their teammates. Although Arsenal sometimes brilliantly execute great team move that require increased awareness, most of the time the rhythm and tempo are confused due to lack of optimized awareness among the players.
Secondly, Alexis Sanchez should either adapt his game to what other players commit themselves to or leave the club, simple as that. It was truly painful to watch his teammates intercepting and carrying the ball with great effort, only to see Sanchez blindly wasting the ball by diving into five Crystal Palace defenders. Now, even though Arsenal have some problems with awareness, the intention of almost every player is to be a part of a greater collective, and it is this attitude that can make this team great again. But Sanchez is like the sociopath cell in the organism, a complete anarchist in the fully functional government, a cancer. I know his individual skills are impressive and sometimes when Arsenal cannot find a solution through collective action his skills saves the day through chaos. Nonetheless there is a reason why he was sold by Barcelona, and I guarantee you it was not the individual skill set as in the cases of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Yaya Toure. If a legend like Thierry Henry can adapt his game to play on the wings after being the most successful striker in Europe for almost a decade, Sanchez can too.
Lastly I am hugely disappointed to see some Arsenal players still lack the geometrical vision to use their appropriate foot. As you can guess, our feet are not flat, they have curves that give a curved movement to the ball when it is kicked, thus it is crucial whether you give the right curve to the ball for a pass to be not intercepted. Added to that, unfortunately we cannot use our feet as an owl uses its neck, they are restricted in their vertical movement so depending on the side you turn your body to, one of the feet has more angle and range for passing the ball. For instance, I have the ball and I turn my body left to pass, if I try to pass it with the right foot, you would notice that the pass would be awkward in its curve and accuracy due to lack of angle and range, you can try it wherever you read this piece too. Thus, it may seem like a little detail, but I cannot tell you how crucial it is to circulate the ball without interference and catch the right rhythm and tempo. Keeper Review:
Petr Cech had a decent performance against Crystal Palace, and especially his command of the area must be shown to young goalkeepers in education programs. But there is one thing that really annoys me and that is that while his team shows a great amount of effort for intercepting the ball and then circulating it in a pre-planned strategy, he sometimes blindly kicks the ball into the opponent's half, completely ignoring the teams strategy. If Arsene Wenger is not disturbed by that, this is also another factor why Arsenal cannot be the champions, if all we have to do is kick the ball to the other side, then why do we created strategies and tactics in the first place?
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