Some follow-up observations:
The team was hell-bent on keeping shape, which gave us some perhaps surprising (but perhaps not) tackling information. Etuhu and Murphy, and the entire back four, really didn’t go for many tackles. Instead Dempsey, Dembele, and to a lesser extent, Ruiz, were doing a lot of the actual harrying. This is a part of our game that’s not commented on a great deal, but Dembele and Dempsey in particular do work very hard getting back. It has been noted that we’re vulnerable in transition down the left, with Riise pushing high up and Dempsey cutting inside, but Jol and the team aren’t daft and should be taking steps to ensure this doesn’t leave us wide open.
On the same note, Chris Baird intercepted six Arsenal passes. This is pretty handy of him. I can see a point in the future where (in extension of the current Barca model) possession is coveted almost to the degree it is in American Football. Really, why not? You can’t score without the ball really; you generally don’t concede with it. And if you have the ball for 75% of a game then your opponent has to be that much more efficient when it wins the ball, as it’s going to see so few opportunities.
In short, all these turnovers, for and against, really do matter. It’s the coach’s job to minimise them in the first place and ensure we don’t get burned too badly when they do happen, but it’s nice that we’re moving towards being a team that can a) keep the ball well, and b) looks pretty handy trying to win it back.
And on the former point:
He’s got plenty of credit, thankfully, but here’s Dickson’s passing chart. Not bad, eh? As I’ve said many times, there’s value in keeping possession, even if you’re not playing Glenn Hoddle passes. Dickson can help the team, and had a monster of a game on Saturday.