Posts Tagged ‘Theo’

This is the third blog looking at Arsenal from a scientific angle. Following Schrödinger’s Arsenal and Wenger’s Room I felt compelled to add a third for a trilogy of entries, those that know me well will know why.

After having tackled Schrödinger’s Cat and Mary’s Room, I scoured for another theory or thought experiment that could be applied to Arsenal when I stumbled upon a psychological theory that was very intriguing and thought-provoking.

The theory I encountered was the Yerkes-Dodson Law. This theory, in layman’s terms, states that performance increases with physiological or mental arousal (stress). Very simply put, at a certain level of induced stress, people perform better. But if stress goes well beyond this level, performance decreases. So it’s all about finding that sweet spot to achieve optimal performance.

The theory is often times better shared using the following illustration:

stress

Now, when performing intellectually demanding tasks, the level of arousal doesn’t need to be high to achieve peak performance, as the lower level of stress will allow for better concentration. For physically demanding tasks, a much higher level of stress is needed to hit peak performance.

So, how can we apply this to Arsenal?

Having followed the club we all know that Wenger is a man that coddle his athletes quite a bit. Time and again we see the likes of Rambo, Theo and many, many more, continue to get chance after chance after poor displays or less than stellar runs. We see the squad, quite often, start off matches in a surprisingly docile manner, with a lack of urgency which leads to comments like, “Same old Arsenal starting slow. Well, we’ll get going in the second half.”, etc. How many times during a season do you find yourself saying, “Where’s the urgency with this team?!” My suggestion is that the squad, at those times, doesn’t find itself stressed enough to hit peak performance.

On a player level, places are pretty much guaranteed as there are limited bodies – regardless of performance, there is little threat of losing one’s starting position. Even if wanting to make a change, depth of quality is limited at many positions, but we’ll leave that aside for now. The calmness some often praise Wenger for could actually lead to a lower stress level which would be detrimental to achieving optimal performance levels in athletes. Of course, as stated earlier on, you don’t want to go beyond that sweet spot of arousal or you end up with a decrease in performance, much like we saw last year with Mourinho and Chelsea.

What’s the sweet spot for Arsenal? How is it achievable on a constant basis? We can all agree that it won’t be the same for all players. Some will have a higher tolerance for anxiety than others. That’s where man-management comes in. This is where I believe, more than anywhere else, Wenger has lost the edge. In the past, when he wasn’t able to get the best out of X or Y player, he had leaders (Keown, Adams, etc.) that could certainly up that stress level and increase that urgency to get the best out of those players. This current team has a lack of leaders so Wenger doesn’t have that luxury anymore and hasn’t for quite some time.

Now, I’m not saying Wenger needs to be like Conte or Simeone on the sidelines or throw boots about in the dressing room like Fergie, although many of us wish he would adopt SOME or MOST of those methods from time to time. But he HAS to be more ruthless and instill a sense of urgency in this team. He needs to bring in quality bodies to ensure no player is comfortable in their position, ever. If you don’t perform, you ride the bench until you show you can, or until your replacement doesn’t perform. This would create the right level of stress for the squad to fulfill their potential. We’ve seen this squad start slow, uninterested and without urgency far too often for a top team.

In the end, the majority of supporters want Wenger to find the balance he once had. Every detail matters in football, man-management is what sets apart the good teams from the great and Arsenal need Wenger to be a great man-manager again, to find those levels of stress to get the best out of the team as whole, if that means hurting some feelings along the way, and that’s okay.

Up the Arsenal!

 

First published on arsenalvision.co.uk

Don’t tell me AFC don’t need a DM/anchor man, just don’t.

Please look at the two goals today and how Arteta was just watching both occur without much input. The CB’s were left exposed (and bottled it) on the first and due to zonal marking and pure ball watching, Graham put it top of the net for the second. Neither directly his fault of course, our defending was in shambles, but he’s certainly part of the problem and in no way part of the solution.

I love Arteta as a passer and as a creator. As a defender he has many tackles, out of NEED, not out of physical play. He is often out-paced, out-muscled and don’t even get me started on his aerial deficiencies. He is a CM, a pivot player if you like; being played at a position that he is not physically gifted to play. His wonderful passing and creativity are being sacrificed to fill a void that was left by players of yesteryear…Vieira, Gilberto, Flamini… No not Song, he was never the answer at that position either.

Let’s see what buying 1 player, a DM or anchor/deep-lying, call it what you will, I call it MF steel. How this one position can change the dynamic of the team, the depth chart and cover in many positions and allows for more help to the often isolated CB’s:

DM/anchor: X player, Diaby, Coquelin

CM/pivot: Arteta, Jack, TR7, Diaby

AM: Jack, Santi, Ox, TR7

LW: Santi, Poldi, Gerv

RW: Theo, Ox, Santi

ST: Giroud, Theo, Poldi

This would be pretty close to the depth chart I would look for. The rotation at each position would be possible and allow for fresh legs and proper cover. Most of all Arsenal would have an efficient player, pace, stature, attitude and strength in midfield that AFC desperately lack when Diaby is not fit, so basically always.  I didn’t put Rambo in any of the positions as we no longer know where he fits do we? He’s a lost player that had such promise, now in many minds an after-thought.

The thing is the Gunners have many midfielders that can be played at a variety of positions, but a DM, anchor, etc. AFC don’t have a one that can truly embrace and excel in that role bar Diaby and his fitness is lacking in any case. Coquelin is a good little player but even he doesn’t have the physicality needed to excel in the way Arsenal need.

One position, one signing can change the direction of the team. It would speed up play, allows the MF to be connected to the FWD’s in a more meaningful way, and allow for the FB’s to join the attack knowing that the CB’s have adequate cover. So many things can change from 1 signing.

This is my contention; it has been for quite some time. Arsenal is much too slow in that key position. The Gunners need a player with power, pace and sense of position, then we can see what the good collection of attackers can do. They have scored more goals already this year than last, so scoring should not be a problem going forward, allowing the creators the club does have to create would certainly increase that output further, but having that true steel in the middle would help shore up a porous defense. It’s a win/win.

Look at the soft goals created through the middle of our defense with relative ease and then try to tell me we don’t need someone in that position…you honestly can’t.

Up the Gunners!

First Published on arsenalvision.co.uk:

Hello Gunners. I haven’t written in a while, as I’ve been taking in the news, transfer rumors, etc. I usually do a post match rating and analysis, which I have taken a pass on doing the last couple of weeks because I have seen, read and heard too much to digest and address properly without a bit of perspective.

So after all the Sahin talk, the misinformed comparisons to Mata, the various moves by other clubs, the  sales of RvP and Song, the possible departure of Theo, the two draws, no goals scored, etc.; where is Arsenal as a club?

Well, the view and points I am about to make come from a Gooner that supports the club, not the players. I am not an Arsene apologist either, but I do in fact give credit or criticism where it’s due. I support our philosophy, but understand that sometimes that must be broken to fix the problem. Sometimes going into some debt is ok. As a self-employed entrepreneur I can tell you, not all debt is bad debt, but we are nowhere close. So let’s begin.

Philosophy

Everyone knows Arsenal’s philosophy footballing wise. The team plays very attractive football and is always amongst the better teams technically. Since 2005 all that pretty play has led to many disappointments. Was it the philosophy or those implementing it?

Football wise you would have to say that Arsene brought in the right type of talent for the team to succeed, otherwise AFC players would not be coveted by the top teams in Europe. Man management wise you would have to say poor decisions were made as to the type of characters chosen.

A thriving youth set-up, top-notch facilities, amazing stadium, and all the rest of the package make Arsenal one of the top sports franchises in the world. While the #1 goal is to win trophies, we all agree there, how we get there can be just as important. Will the 7 year wait be worth it if when we win, we do it the Arsenal way? In my opinion, it absolutely will. Add all the things that were accomplished internally along the way and Arsenal are sitting pretty to commence the next phase which is to go back to winning trophies.

You only have to look at the top 10 franchises in the world to realize that we are not alone in recent trophy less years…New York Yankees (2000-2009), Dallas Cowboys (1995-Present), Washington Redskins (1991-Present), LA Dodgers (1988-Present), and NE Patriots (2004-Present). So value certainly doesn’t guarantee success, but looking at that top 10 it lets you see Arsenal are in some rarefied air and indeed an elite club. AFC has come a long way without winning trophies in the last 7 years, so that begs the question:

Where do we go from here?

Debt

Some say Arsenal need to spend whatever to get the players needed to get ahead and mount an all out assault for trophies. I sometimes land in that camp, but only for the right players.

Others have a view that getting into too much debt and changing Arsenal’s philosophy will lead to the club ending up like Malaga, which I also agree with.

It is not an easy issue to overcome and Gunners are split over it. Is Arsenal  a selling club, a buying club or as some suggest a trading club? I believe they are a trading club.

That doesn’t make AFC more ambitious, less ambitious, frugal or quick to make coin. That makes Arsenal a realistic buyer and seller in the current climate.

Now, all of that said, not all debt is bad debt. Paying 35m + X wages for a player of considerable talent can pay off in a team morale boost, talent and competitiveness. Add too many of those players and you can have too many cooks in the kitchen. The balance is ever so important and I trust Arsene to know what that balance is better than you or I; take a look at 03/04 as an example.

Will Arsenal dip into the deep coffers and overspend to get the players that are perceived as needed or will they continue on the road of buy cheap, sell expensive and constant turnover? The answers to those questions are going to be dictated by the results this year more than any other. When the answer comes, unless it comes with trophies, it won’t please 100% of the fan base, some will be happy and others upset, that’s the reality of the modern fan as well.

These questions then lead to the ever important personnel issue. Have the additions and departures to AFC this summer thus far been good for the team?

Sales/Purchases

Let’s make this simple;

Podolski: Experienced, technically proficient player. He is already making adjustments to his game to suit AFC play.

Giroud: Raw, talented and made for EPL play. Will take time adjust but likely to pay off huge.

Cazorla: Already plays like he was brought up in the system.

RvP: AFC waited patiently for 6 1/2 years for him to be a consistent player. The last 18 months he was made the center of the offensive attack, and whilst finally staying healthy he delivered. Does he repay this patience? Nope. He buggers off at the first opportunity. To me this was a good sale. Better to get 24m now than nothing later.

Song: Good player, never played his position as needed, helped a great deal going forward, hurt a great deal defending, a double-edged sword. Can’t say I am sorry to see him go as I have called for it or a defensive replacement to allow him to go forward for quite some time. He’s already keeping the bench warm at FCB already, amazing.

Sahin: The truth? Sahin wanted to stay at RMFC this year. Mou wanted him to get playing time. Sahin chose Arsenal after a Wenger call. AFC then decided to try to make the loan into a permanent deal based on the fees that were to be paid. What was an already agreed upon loan deal was turned sideways. Sahin and Real Madrid decided that going to LFC made more sense as both club and player wanted a reunion at the end of the year.  Nothing complicated or sinister, just bad timing and bad information passed on by many parties.

Lansbury: Bad deal for me. He never got a chance to show what he had at AFC. He gets no chance and Ramsey gets a million. Not what many of us expected.

Theo: One has to make a true evaluation; Theo is a work in progress that no one knows will pay off. Does AFC bail now after 5 years or continue the work? We shall see.

Departures: We are all waiting on NB52, Chamakh, Arshavin, Park, Squillaci to be sent packing, looking unlikely with each passing day.

Arrivals: Unless some of these departures happen, arrivals will be tough. But a DM and a DEF player are likely. A ST will come in IF Arsenal can move theirs.

So, AFC rid themselves of players that were unhappy, ungrateful or unwilling to look at the big picture and replaced them with players that WANT to be at AFC…not a bad deal in my view. The fact is the club replaced a squad full of champions and competitors with spoiled kids. The young replacements were not ready and given too much pay and responsibility for it to never end any other way other than how it has. That is Wenger’s fault, and it was a direct result of having to pay for the Emirates and changing the spending philosophy to maximize profit, the board’s new priority. Enough blame to go around. BUT…

As long as Arsenal continue to bring in a mix of youth and experience and the correct type of characters that want to accomplish something AT the club instead of using the club to transition, the Gunners will be just fine.

Season Results

Given the two results thus far this year and hearing how fans have reacted you would think Arsenal are set for relegation, again. I say again because this sounds so familiar. Remember last year after 7 matches when at 7 points most said AFC were destined for the bottom half of the table and possibly relegation. Oops, that didn’t work out for them did it?

Listen, last year at this time the club had departures, a horrible chemistry with attitude issues and a horrific back line. This year AFC dominated the two first matches, the defense has been great and only the lack of play time together has kept AFC from 6 points instead of the current 2. Things are looking bright for the club, a couple more additions and some consistency in the line-ups as we had only once last year (the run of matches where we beat Milan, 5PUR2, Citeh, etc) and our trophy drought is well on its way to being a thing of the past.

I blame the board, Wenger but most of all the players for where AFC are right now. There are no innocent parties in this. It is a team effort when AFC wins and it is a team effort to lose as well. We as fans can’t have it both ways. Arsene can’t be a genius at spotting talent, then be blameless when that talent goes rogue. We can’t love the players then blame Wenger when those players grow to prefer money over the club, no way for him to know that beforehand…as I said before plenty of blame to go around.

We have to go back to basics Gooners. Support and love the CLUB, cheer the players and realize that it is never as bad or as good as the media, AKB, WOB, etc. want you to think it is. The reality is we support an elite club with small club values, embrace it. If you can’t, there will be more disappointment coming. If you can embrace it and have done, you know Arsenal are leading a charge to go back top and most certainly not lagging behind.

Good days ahead, you have to believe that, or what’s the point of support?
COYG!