Sometimes you have to roll your sleeves up and make some big unpopular calls. Arteta is about to have to do some of that. The Everton result was not par the course this season, that was a throwback to December last season. The levels were shocking. The performance was incoherent. It was a throwback to the hell days of late Emery and Wenger.
Gutless, insipid, unfocused, meek… the list of unpleasant descriptors could go on for days.
Arsenal did what is true to our recent history. We rolled up the team bus and said, ‘Rafa, I hear you have a problem, may we assist you?’
Our team is better than that. There was no excuse for that level of mediocrity. We let the situation happen to us and there isn’t a specific place to point a finger… because all of it was shite.
Sounds a little bit like a track title for an Adele song. BUT IT’S NOT OK? It’s about the game today.
Top 4 was the stretch target this season, especially after the shocking opening we had… but the more the season goes on, the clearer it is, that the objective might not be that outrageous.
You gotta dream big (ish). The power of ambition in an organization cannot be underestimated. It sets the tone, it keeps people excited, and sometimes… it pays off.
Just look at Arsene Wenger when he told the world we might go invincible. Hadn’t been done before. Will never be done moving forward. The ambition was ridiculed, it was put on Spurs market stall merch… but who was the one laughing in the end? Wenger.
Our ambitions are a little lower right now, but everyone has to start somewhere.
The post-match reaction from Gooners seems to be pretty unified: A frustrating game we threw away.
Mike McDonald had the most incisive piece of analysis: The team that made the most mistakes lost.
The goals we conceded were all unforced errors.
Ben White with a shocking clearance
Nuno and ESR making a mess of a 10-yard pass
Odegaard sliding in on Fred in the penalty area
Mistakes kill momentum, they kill confidence, and they fu*k up your position in the table. Our players need to learn from them and they need to make sure they don’t become part of the package like they were last season.
Manchester United vs Arsenal goes down as the most frustrating game of the season. We lost. We shouldn’t have. That was a very hard dropped 3 points.
There are some pretty clear areas we need to improve in over the next 2 months if we want a realistic chance of winning things, and the first I want to talk about is confidence.
Arsenal controlled the opening phase of the game, we went a goal up (hilarious goal), then we replicated the familiar pattern of trying to see out a lead like it was the 88th minute. This is a confidence thing. It’s about the experience we lack at the moment. It is a problem because we let teams back into games when we shouldn’t. We’ve even played like this when we’ve won (Spurs / Leicester), the pattern is the same… we don’t know how to lead in games.
Arsenal vs Manchester United. At Old Trafford. I don’t care what anyone says, this is still a big game, I still couldn’t sleep last night thinking about it.
Both teams are quite a bit away from their peak. I remember some of the great games of the past. Henry, peak-Cristiano, Paddy, Pires, Freddie, O’Shea, Scholes, Beckham, Van Nistelrooy… MARTIN KEOWN. I remember away day glory, being there with my Arsenal familia when we won the league at Old Trafford. I remember Mark Overmars scoring THAT goal to clinch our first Premier League. I also remember getting destroyed there by a score I shan’t mention. How about that Thierry goal? So much wow.
Things are different these days, but I think both clubs are probably starting to make decisions that will make them better in the long run.
Ralf Rangnick is now confirmed as their coach. He’s a legend of the game. When you’re around people who’ve worked with him, they speak about him in glowing terms. Organised, specific in his asks, and visionary. He’s the real deal. A proper doer. He could give them everything they’ve lacked in their rudderless post-Fergie system. He’ll make United aggressive, hard-working, and extremely direct. He’ll need transfer windows to bring his style to life, but make no mistake, he’s a threat to the Premier League. Deeply connected the best managers and players in the game… with so many receipts when it comes to talent ID. Imagine him with a real budget?
The big question he’ll have to answer is: Does his method work with a team of egos? Does it work with more money? Does it work under the pressure of short-term thinking?
None of that matters today. Michael Carrick is in charge, Ralf will not be choosing players, it’s a bit like Everton for Arteta’s first game.
So what is Carrick going to do?
Well, he shut up shop against Chelsea and walked away from Stamford Bridge with a point. It wasn’t the most glam of points, but it was more than most expected he’d do.
Would he dare play low-sauce football at Old Trafford in likely his last game in charge of United? Doubt it. He’ll go guns blazing. It’ll be a big ego move. Ego surely must have been considered by Arteta. Which side would you prefer to play? The low block merchants or the ‘let’s have some fun’ crew unleashed against Liverpool? The latter for me.
United has been in disarray all season. Carrick isn’t giving them structure in 2 weeks. Though he will send them out fighting for their futures… which is a dangerous motivator for players unsure of what the new guy is going to bring to the party. A lack of structure in the Premier League will cost you a league title, not doubt, but it doesn’t make you incapable of beastly victories.
What does this game mean for Arsenal? Quite a lot. Let’s get this straight before a ball is kicked. A bad result doesn’t end our season. But a good result? Well, it could be a huge boost for confidence and it’ll certainly raise belief levels to heights we haven’t seen under Arteta.
The job this month is to stay in the mixer for top 4. United is a game most of us expect to drop points. Anything above 1 point would be HUGE.
There are a few knocks in the system. Bukayo Saka isn’t as injured as we thought, he’s in contention, but Arteta is probably VERY cognizant of that time he brought Thomas Partey back early against United and lost him early. There’s no Xhaka. There’s the temptation of Kieran Tierney. There’s question marks over Odegaard after a bland Newcastle outing. There’s Gabriel Martinelli who scored a scorcher.
Hopefully, there’s a surprise in the system.
Our back 5 is going to be incredibly important. They need to be sharp. Cristiano doesn’t need 10 chances to bury us, even at 36. Sancho can be lethal on his day. There are about 7 United players that can be game-winners if they fancy it. But let’s be real… they haven’t fancied it too often. They haven’t been coached well.
They are there for the taking if we can muster the bravery to show up and play at Old Trafford.
We lost against Liverpool because we let them happen to us.
We drew against Brighton because we allowed them to dictate play.
Every game we’ve been poor in, we’ve not been brave.
Is the youngest starting 11 in the league ready to make a statement in a BIG away game?
I think so.
Let’s see what happens.
Chelsea scrapped past Watford
Brighton and West Ham drew
Everton lost again
Most things went for us. Would be lovely to capitalise again.
We’ll be On The Whistle after the game. Johnny and Matt are IN. We have new webcams so we look sexy. Tune in and ask a question. We’ll love you deeply for it.
Let’s start the post with the sad news that Ray Kennedy passed away. The midfielder started his career at Arsenal before moving on to further greatness with Liverpool. He was a bit before my time, so I can’t really pay my respects in the way some of the posters below likely will, so if you leave a comment, I’ll add some of them to the post during the day so people can understand better what he meant to the old school Gooner faithful.
Let’s lighten the mood.
Arteta doing a ‘banter’ with the freestylers? The kid looks like David Beckham and he is well impressive. Can’t believe I didn’t see this? PR brainstorm must have been fun.
‘Mikel is a bit… you know… serious. Could he do a banter?’
‘I’m not sure he does the banter’
‘What if we scripted him and let someone else do banter for him? Would the banter halo effect do the job?’
Make of it what you will, but what I do think is interesting is that Arsenal Comms is finally modernising its approach to PR around the club. These content creators have massive reach, they bring in younger audiences, and they can do a job normal media simply cannot.
Back to serious with a splash of vengeance?
Someone tried to rob Garbriel Magalhaes with a baseball bat.
Gabriel didn’t give him an inch, fought back the attacker, and the little bitch fled the scene… only to be caught by DNA evidence.
Not many attackers get much change from Gabriel, amirite?
Quite scary for these footballers. They are a target. You do worry someone will get badly injured at some point.
There’s a little bit of transfer news. We’ve bid for a winger called Ianis Stoica. This from his owner.
‘I currently have [an offer of] €7.5m (£6.3m) for Ianis Stoica,’ Becali told as.ro., before confirming that it was Arsenal that had made the bid.
‘And I want €10m plus 20% [future transfer clause].’
From the 10 mins of scouting, it looks like the sort of profile that would attract interest. He does everything that Lacazette does, but with more power and speed. Mostly, these rumours are there to whip up a bit of interest, but this one seems super specific. We’ll see… something has to give in January, because our attacking options aren’t the best at the moment and there could be a few exiting the building.
It’s one day before our MASSIVE showdown against Manchester United. I’ll be back with some pregame juice.
It’s a short one today. Watch our pod-tent (geddit?). We’ll be coming at you with an ON THE WHISTLE this Thursday. HAVE A NICE DAY. x