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Xhaka-Torreira Pivot to Arsenal and Emery Success

By Merlion
July 31 2018

The recent ICC friendlies exposed the fragilities of our Back-4, lack of pace and quick recovery on being cut through like a knife through butter by quick one-touch one-pass and one-two flicks performed by well-drilled young Spanish and French players with superb ball control.

All marquee teams have superb man-marker defenders who rarely allow players to get pass them.When Unai Emery consistently emphases on “high line, intense pressing and aggressive attacking” football, he is actually modelling after Jose Mourinho Real Madrid 4-2-3-1 with the tactical flexibility to change formation to deal with different opponents.

 For example:

Against FC Barcelona, Jose Mourinho would force the ball away from Barca strongest right-side with Pique, Xavi and Alves, who were more adept building attacks from the back rather than Puyol-Abidal. And he would switch to man-marking with Xabi Alonso tracking Xavi, and Khedira tracking Iniesta.

 Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka are our double pivot that are needed to shield Arsenal’s Back-4, with Torreira providing pace and quick recovery and Xhaka with his intelligent reading of the game, positioning and anticipation to stop attacks from developing in the middle; like Xabi Alonso.

Ronaldo rarely tracked back to help out defensively. Jose Mourinho recognized this defect and solved it by deploying Alonso to cover behind Ronaldo. Alonso is an intelligent player; superb reader of the game and he compensate for his lack of pace by his anticipation and intelligence of knowing when to press and when to sit back to defuse a dangerous position when Ronaldo was caught out of position with left flank exposed.

Alonso-Khedira did all the defensive and tracking works with Benzema (or Higuain), Ronaldo, Di Maria and Ozil pressing in opponent half and well-drilled by Mourinho in positioning themselves to close off passing channels when opponent had the ball.

 This is why, in a similar situation, a Torreira-Xhaka Double Pivot is vital to compensate for lack of pace, slow recovery and average man-marking skills of current Back-4 in Monreal (or Kolasinac)-Sokratis-Mustafi (or Chambers)-Bellerin (or Lichtsteiner).

You cannot leave £108-million worth of forwards on the bench and it is a no-brainer that Emery will play them together as they (Lacazette and Aubameyang) offer different attributes to the team – one with Henry-like blazing pace, an instinct for drifting to far post in goal-scoring position but lacks Henry’s dribbling skills, the other superb ball control with his back to goal as a link-man holding the ball and a sniffer in the box. Aubameyang’s electric off-the-shoulder running tends to disrupt defence leaving gaps for the likes of Ozil, Lacazette and Mkhitaryan to exploit.

 As shown during those two friendlies, both Athletico Madrid and PSG easily bypassed Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and Iwobi at left flank with a free run at Kolasinac or Rob Holding with Elneny or Guendouzi or Maitland-Niles nowhere closed enough to press instantly like what Alonso did at Real Madrid when Ronaldo was frequently caught out of position.

Jose Mourinho coached players when to press and when to sit back in a rigid well-organized and well-coordinated defensive unit. Most of all, he got lucky with an intelligent player in Alonso who read the game and the unfolding tactical situation on the pitch superbly.

Switzerland WC2018 squad also created an Alonso-like player in the utilisation of Granit Xhaka – with a tigerish and tough tackling Valon Behrami sitting behind doing all the dirties.

 There is a reason why Arsene Wenger bought Xhaka, it is for his role as a deep-lying creative playmaker who can play deep as defensive shield with his fine reading of the game, controlling tempo of the game by switching plays with his accurate long passes, anticipation and interception by his positional awareness to close off passing channels. But Arsene Wenger forgot that he needed a partner like Behrami to compensate for his lack of pace, poor man-marking skill and oh, terrible tackling skills (I was wondering what went wrong. Editor).

I have not seen Torreira play in Serie A, but caught glimpses of him at WC2018. He is that counterfoil to Xhaka like Behrami. Like Khedira or Busquets, Torreira will release Xhaka to play ahead of him as a deep-lying playmaker to complement Ozil and Mkhitaryan playing high up.

For example:

When Aubameyang and Lacazette are both caught out of position, Torreira will move instantly to press RW running with the ball at our left flank in tandem with Xhaka moving into the space vacated by Torreira to tightly mark MF (8) from receiving the ball.

The chain reaction is started with Ozil moving left to the playing zone to block the passing channel to MF (6) and to anticipate CB (5) moving up to collect a pass.

Concurrently, both our CB move to close down ACM (10) and FW (9) in anticipation of a pass from RW (7) successfully passed to them. Bellerin will move inward to help out both CB to overload the centre 3 vs 2 defensively but positioned himself such that when a cross is successfully swing to LW (11), he can press him instantly.

If the team is well balanced and midfielders are well positioned, then Sokratis will move the entire Back-4 high up to catch FW (9) and ACM (10) in an off-side position.

The two friendlies have shown that the team and youngsters are still learning to press and how to position to block passing channels and in position to anticipate and intercepted passes. On numerous occasions, even with Guendouzi helping to surround the PSG player with three Arsenal players, the ball was not won and managed to pass out accurately to another PSG players in a dangerous zone, free to attack the Back-4 directly.

 The various Double-Pivot combination in Ramsey-Guendouzi, Maitland-Niles-Guendouzi, Elneny-Guendouzi, Willock-Guendouzi and Maitland-Niles-Willock did not work out.

Ramsey-Guendouzi are too attacking-mind and always left the Back-4 exposed to Athletico Madrid counter-attacks; players so easily bypassed midfield and playing neat triangles just outside our box.

 PSG players so technically superb in counter-attacking that they nullified a hard-running and pressing Guendouzi by simply passing the ball to leave an inexperienced Geundouzi out of position. Of course those two friendlies are an opportunity for letting the reserves and youngsters having an audition for their spot in the senior team. I suspect some like Maitland-Niles will have more playing time with the senior players for the next two friendlies against Lazio and Chelski.

The next two friendlies will identity Unai Emery’s senior squad and the two main questions answered are:

Can Aubameyang play effectively together with Ozil to form a potent Ronaldo-Benzema partnership helping the German to rediscover his Real Madrid form?

Will Xhaka-Torreira thrives like Alonso-Khedira Double Pivot? We will have to wait and see, this is only one of many questions to be answered this coming season.

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Xhaka-Torreira Pivot to Arsenal and Emery Success
Arsenal Times (IP Logged)
31/07/2018 16:49
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:08:02:17:42:50 by Padre Pio.

Re: Xhaka-Torreira Pivot to Arsenal and Emery Success
Goofle (IP Logged)
31/07/2018 16:58
Signing Torreira and then continuing to play Xhaka would literally make me want to kill everything on the planet. UTTER WASTE.

Re: Xhaka-Torreira Pivot to Arsenal and Emery Success
Boston Gooner (IP Logged)
31/07/2018 17:05
Xhaka should have been sold.
Terrible player.

Re: Xhaka-Torreira Pivot to Arsenal and Emery Success
CazOnARola (IP Logged)
31/07/2018 18:38
Signing Torreira and then continuing to play Xhaka would literally make me want to kill everything on the planet. UTTER WASTE.
It will be either ramsey or of we need extra insurance the new kid or elneny, and ramsey moves to 10, ozil out wide

I'll be shocked if xhaka is paying alongside torreira. It would just term me have got wenger ii as our manager.

Re: Xhaka-Torreira Pivot to Arsenal and Emery Success
SuperRob (IP Logged)
31/07/2018 22:24
I agree that Xhaka is awful and should have been sold but I think that it's definitely possible we will play a midfield 3 of Xhaka, Torreira and Ramsey in some games, with Torreira playing the Thiago Motta position, Ramsey playing the Rabiot position and Xhaka attempting to play the Matuidi position.

It's much more likely that we will play different players and different formations depending on the team we are playing against, so I guess having more options is a good thing, even if that option is Xhaka.

Re: Xhaka-Torreira Pivot to Arsenal and Emery Success
CazOnARola (IP Logged)
01/08/2018 11:35
I would take Guendouzi over xhaka in that scenario. Much more mobile evrb if he isn't pacey and has better dribble than xhaka.

Maybe for home games xhaka s shooting against poor teams would help, but in those games we might be playing ozil as 10 and ramsey as b2b anyway

Re: Xhaka-Torreira Pivot to Arsenal and Emery Success
Goofle (IP Logged)
01/08/2018 18:59
^ yep, apart from the second part because f*ck Xhaka always.

Re: Xhaka-Torreira Pivot to Arsenal and Emery Success
SuperRob (IP Logged)
01/08/2018 22:27
Xhaka can't shoot.

In preseason, we've looked best when Ozil has played up front. So yeah I'd go for

Mkhi Torreira Ramsey Iwobi


Problem with that is you can't play either Aubameyang or Lacazette out wide in that formation.

Re: Xhaka-Torreira Pivot to Arsenal and Emery Success
Jack_is_the_truth (IP Logged)
02/08/2018 00:00
Guendouzi and Torreira
The future is now!!!!!!!

Re: Xhaka-Torreira Pivot to Arsenal and Emery Success
CazOnARola (IP Logged)
02/08/2018 07:20
Guendouzi torreira and ramsey as our version of kante pogba and matuidi.

Our defense is much worse than France and i think ozil is going to drift in anyway and these 3 cab really cover when our right back goes foward.

Problem is that the right back will see a lot of the ball and bellerin has regressed big time. He doesn't even seem interested in football, very bad body Language

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:08:03:02:11:15 by CazOnARola.

Re: Xhaka-Torreira Pivot to Arsenal and Emery Success
Optimistic Gunner (IP Logged)
02/08/2018 23:20
Boston Gooner
Xhaka should have been sold.
Terrible player.

Re: Xhaka-Torreira Pivot to Arsenal and Emery Success
mapleleafgooner (IP Logged)
03/08/2018 01:18
Guendouzi can tackle cleanly to win the ball. Xhaka cant tackle. U wouldnt be an effective DM if u cant tsckle.

Re: Xhaka-Torreira Pivot to Arsenal and Emery Success
Merlion96 (IP Logged)
14/08/2018 14:54
The team against Man City is simply not balanced.

It was suicidal to play Mkhi and Ozil on the flanks without protection from the Double Pivot.

Mkhi can't defence and track back against the lightning pace of a powerful Mendy and a tricky dribbler in Sterling.

Similarly, there was no protection in the soft centre, allowing both Sterling and Silva to drive inward and of all the thing, scored from outside the box.

When players scored from outisde the box, it showed that coaches had done their homework, identified the weak link in Arsenal team and instructed their players to overload the flanks, unbalanced Arsenal centre to create a clear chance with at least a second to pick their shot with no Arsenal player swift enoguh to close the scorer down.

Guedouzi is tactical naive, poor posiitonal awareness and simply inexperienced to anticipate plays and opponent movement at a glance and worse, no synergy and communication with his aprtner to defend zone .... instead just a Duracell Bunny hopping all over the pitch chasing balls and players and never position himself tactically in partnership as a Double Pivot.

ALl figners pointed to Emery as tactically naive to play a high pressing agam against a Master of the High pressing Game, which pound for pound, has the players far superior that what Arsenal has fielded.

Back to the drawing board and finding his two lost balls to drop those marquee players that needed dropping with a heftly kick at the spot where the sun never shines on.

'The more things change, the more they remain the same' Alphonse Karr.

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