Rocky road ahead

by .

Well, a bloody good morning to you!

We’re smack bang in the middle of the mere-mortals-international break. No one knows what day it is, the only guide we have is when the football is, so we loosely know that something is going on in day 29 of the 12 month.

That’d be the Chelsea game.

It was quite interesting watching the chatter post-Bournemouth yesterday. I feel like the level of fan conversation has jotted up a couple of notches. There are the folk that saw some very interesting innovations in our starting 11 after just 5 days. Then there’s Thierry Henry, who gave an extremely salty analysis of Arteta’s first game, which amounted to, ‘shit performance, saved by Auba.’

If you watched the Bournemouth game and you didn’t see any improvements, you’re either not paying attention, or you’re being willfully blind because you are holding a grudge. The most disappointing part of the game was the uncharacteristically poor finishing. In Emery’s first season, our chance conversion rate was something else, it’s gone missing of late. We had 17 attempts at goal, the 3rd highest away from him this season.

I think a lot of fans were interested to see AMN being pushed into midfield in an inverted full back role, helping us to stem the flow of counter-attacks. That also gave Saka more opportunities to push forward as a winger, though it has to be said, his delivery was terrible on that occasion.

There was also clearly a lot better positioning on the pitch. Below is Leicester then Bournemouth.

These are all very basic, but they point to a coach that at least has a clear idea of what he thinks is wrong, along with the aptitude to implement fast changes.

Then, if you didn’t notice the increase workrate, something we’ve moaned about all season, well, no one can help you.

Now, where I will dampen the joy is this was the first game against a broken team. Bournemouth are always game to give Arsenal possession, and they are often ideal teams for Xhaka and Ozil. Though I think it was clear that Arteta created the right conditions for Ozil to have more time between the lines, then Xhaka when Bournemouth wised up to Ozil.

The other dampener is that I think we’ll continue to have a tough 8 weeks. Chelsea and United in rapid-fire succession is far from ideal and we could easily be beasted by both of them. There’s simply not enough time to really shape the players up. New ideas + not time + fatigue isn’t a great recipe.

We’ll see though. I think the talent we have in the squad is far more promising than many give it credit for, the biggest regret for our season was that Raul didn’t pull the plug on the Emery coma before the international break. We moved from the precipice to free fall in those games after, and it’ll be hard to exit that. But we still have good players, we still have a very exciting forward line, and there’s a lot to be said for smart coaching.

A few people noted that Arteta, in the one game we’ve seen from him, looks at player attributes and shapes the structure around them. The inverted full-back move with AMN used his athleticism to track counters. Moving Saka up to create overloads with his pace and ‘delivery.’ He knows Xhaka is shite defensively, so he moves him to the left and gives him more time to pick out passes. Torreira makes the most tackles, interceptions and recoveries and looks the best he has in 18 months, but has support from someone more athletic than him. What I’m saying, is though we don’t have the right players, we certainly have a lot of tasty attributes ready to exploit teams.

I read Marcotti’s piece on the Lille setup, the article is super interesting, but this piece on Pepe had me very damp.

I think Pepe is a winger who is also a world-class finisher. This is a guy who played goalkeeper until he was 13. He understands them like few others — that’s why his finishes, even from long range, are rarely blasted and always placed. I say this because it’s one of the two factors that, I think, have slowed him a bit. We played Pepe in a 4-3-3 in a very specific position: He was wide, with freedom to come inside and a full-back behind him who always covered for him. Now he’s in a new team, his teammates don’t know him and he has to jell. That takes time; the same thing happened when he joined us and it took about six months for him to be very productive. In fact, we were almost relegated.

He can’t control that [period of integration at a new club]. What he can control is his confidence. He has to be confident. There is so much pressure on him that sometimes, it gets to him and as a result he’s a less selfish player than he was when he was with us. He’ll pass sometimes when maybe he should have the confidence to finish. But I think he’ll get over both those factors. We’re already seeing glimpses of what he can do.

Arsenal fans are all very miserable at the moment, we’ve been quick to write-off the Ivorian, but I’m still convinced there’s a player there. He’s clearly a confidence guy, he’s having trouble adapting to the rigours of the league, but under the right coach who understands him, he could be electric. Remember, Arteta did brilliant work on Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane. No reason he can’t master a turnaround project on someone that has pace and elite finishing. One of the clear things we missed with Pepe is that he’s been a counter-attacking winger, then he comes to Arsenal, has to operate in a confused system coming super deep to pick up the ball. No wonder his game is a mess.

Coaching is going to do wonders for this squad. We have a group of eager young kids that want to get better, we hopefully have some senior players that want to come to the light and we have a coach desperate to prove he’s not the guy that picked up the cones.

A few shot at me yesterday regarding the shifting expectations for Arteta. It’s pretty simple why the season is a write-off now. We blew the season with Emery. Arteta will have no pre-season, he’s picking up broken players, he’s now dealing with at least 6 contract rebels, there are cliques in the squad and the fans are sitting in a toxic atmosphere. Expecting top 4 now is a huge stretch. The best we can hope for is an elite run in the Europa League… but the most important thing for me is that the club shift their efforts into the rebuild of Arsenal, now we know what we want to be. Identify the best kids, get them playing the Arteta way. Sign up the senior players we want to keep. Have a very smart idea for turning over the players we want out, and make sure the replacements can carry us through next season into the top 4.

Right, that’s me done, see you in the comments.

202 Responses to “Rocky road ahead”

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  1. Receding Hairline

    “Receding sharpening his knives, expect him to go full throttle against Arteta should we lose against both Chelsea and United.”

    Your opinion and you are entitled to it.

    Expecting a result against teams who have lost to Southampton, West Ham, and Watford just days ago now qualifies as knife sharpening.


    Arteta would demand a win and i am with him on that. You are the only ones doing this dampening expectations routine

    Our players should be playing for their jobs. Again i repeat this is not about Arteta but about Arsenal players playing with pride and purpose.

    Don’t know why expecting my team to win football games now makes me an enemy of the team, oh wait its because i happened to rate the sacked manager.

    Does that mean you all secretly enjoyed our draws and loses this season under Emery? That’s a shame.

    Don’t project your warped way of supporting your team onto me TR7. You support coaches not teams.

  2. Dissenter

    I believe RH is saying that people should stop wrapping Arteta in cotton wool.
    Duncan Ferguson got good results from United and Chelsea AWAY in his first games in charge.
    We have both teams at home, still yet people are running over themselves to dumb down expectations.
    Arteta has publicly stated that we need to win games, why all these race to set a very low bar. Wins will lift off the Arteta era.
    Attaboy RH

  3. Marc

    By the way who ever called bris “Mentalbris” the other day I thought you were making a joke. I didn’t realise that you are a qualified medical professional making a diagnosis.

  4. Receding Hairline

    “Forgive me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Ferguson win just one out of 4 games including getting knocked out of the cup and a drab draw against our kids.Hardly a ringing endorsement .”

    Well Pierre if such a poor coach could manage to play Chelsea and United back to back and emerge with four points as an interim coach i see no reason for all the “expect nothing from both games as they came way too early” posts.

  5. Ishola70

    Arsenal definitely don’t need to replace Xhaka’s role in the team.

    Arsenal need to become a more conventional side.

    Not DLP shit that has caused so many problems for the team.

    We can ask for a replacement midfielder to come in but not the same role that Xhaka has played for Arsenal.

  6. Dissenter

    If Hertha Berlin dont come with a very good offer then Xhaka stays till the summer. They won’t be the only club bidding for his services by then. I expect that Arteta will succeed in putting a new lick of silver paint on Arteta. He will play to his strengths.
    Arsenal have to get at least what we paid for him. He’s the international captain of the 12th ranked country on the FIFA table. He’s as stubborn as an ass and had 2 million twitter followers. He’s easily worth 35-50 million in the prime of his career.

  7. Gentlebris

    ‘You seem to be very paranoid about where you are in life – you wouldn’t say where you’re from the other day. Fortunately I live in Hertfordshire – it’s a nice place expensive but I do OK so I can afford it.’

    There you are again, with pitifully low intelligence.

    Who cares where your aunty’s rich boyfriend rented a place for you at?

    By saying places I didn’t mean geographical locations. What I did mean was being up, mixing it at the top, being at same corporate dinner party with successful people, shaking hands with the right people, being on the first name term with highly successful people. Stuffs like that.

  8. TR7


    There’s a reason Arteta has been hired on a 3.5 year long contract whereas Emery was given a two years contract. The powers that be at Arsenal have realized that Arteta will need more time to pull Arsenal out of the mess Emery has created than what Emery needed to put us back in to top 4 from where Wenger had left us. I am sure Arteta will push for wins against both Chelsea and United and I will be hoping like any of you that we win but losing both the games won’t prove Arteta to be a disaster. We are talking about a team which has won 1 game out of a dozen.

  9. Ishola70

    “In fact it’s watching Pepe in ligue un that has me convinced that he’s better at RW instead of trying to turn him into a CF.”

    Why is that then?

    Few examples of why him going in at CF is so out of bounds?

    And this “turning him into a CF” sounds like the position is completely alien. It isn’t. His secondary position is CF.

  10. Cesc Appeal

    Arteta does not get a free rid to the end of the season and we just wave away results because ‘Emery fucked everything up’.

    The official line was the squad was way, way better than they were performing under Emery and it was just Emery’s tactics and personality holding the squad back…except we didn’t see a bounce under Ljungberg…and we didn’t get a bounce in the first game under Arteta.

    So either the people suggesting the squad was good enough were wrong, fair enough, or they’re hypocrites, not so fair enough.

    Not expecting 4th out of him, but there has to be notable improvement in the side. Arteta was literally built up to Guardiola like proportions by Pedro and whilst that was hyperbolic beyond belief you can’t now retreat from that position and say even if we finish midtable it’s all fine and we should start judging in September.

    That doesn’t really seem fair to me and makes you look a bit of a twat for anything you said under Emery.

    The issue either is you are applying double standards (trying to make out Arteta has a harder job now despite suggesting Emery was THE problem) or you were way too harsh on Emery (because the squad actually isn’t that great and Arteta can’t do that much with it).

  11. Dissenter

    I would be disappointed If we set up conservatively against Chelsea and United.
    Two games against two uncertain and certainly beatable teams
    It will be so Emery-esque

  12. Gentlebris

    Marc, not to boast or anything, but you might be talking to a businessman with international connections. So imagine how ridiculous you sound when you mentioned your rented room in an expensive area?

  13. Receding Hairline

    “You say you expect a win against Chelsea”

    No Ishola that is not what i have been saying. I simply believe we should not go into a home game against anyone preparing our minds for defeat. That is not how you build confidence.

    Arteta spoke about winning back the fans, you do that with victories especially at home. I am not demanding anything.

    I just don’t believe the game came too early or anything along those lines. Everton did okay against Chelsea the game immediately after sacking their coach. We on the other hand lost to Brighton at home.

    “By the same token will you be shocked if Arsenal lose the match?”


    Nothing this group of players do going forward will shock me

  14. Marc

    “shaking hands with the right people, being on the first name term with highly successful people”

    Oh dear you have a really low measure of yourself – no wonder you over react to something that most wouldn’t even notice.

    Are you sure you won’t say where you’re from? I’ll add it to my places to avoid list.

  15. Gentlebris


    I’m very aware of the difficult gig the guy has got. But losing to both Chelsea and United in three days? Two teams almost as rudderless as our team? Without grabbing a point from six?

    Well, think about it again.

  16. Champagne charlie

    “You want to keep Xhaka – fine.“

    Not once have I said this. I actually stated a couple of days ago that I think he needs to go because he’s become such a lightening rod of negativity and a blank slate is needed for all.

    But… Huge difference between that and ‘take whatever and run, ‘bin him at the first opportunity’ etc etc. He’ll need replaced, and if we don’t have that lined up in Jan then we’re weaker for letting him go. No ifs or buts about it.

    We got to the EL final last season with him, he’s more than capable of delivering for us to replicate such a feat. Wanting him out at the expense of our side is blind hatred.

    – Sell him and loan a Rabiot? All for it.

    – Sell him but fail to replace him, yet come on here like it was a win for the club? No, you’re just ok I’d much rather wait until the summer.

  17. Dissenter

    Aren’t you one of the fellas that wanted us to take the first offer Everton made for Alex Iwobi?
    Arsenal don’t have to sell him because he has 2.5 years left on his contract. The burden is in the buying club to convince us. We will be silly to let my one bully us into a cheap sale.

  18. RodneyKing

    If it’s all down to the players, I’m afraid Chelsea may have a rather comfortable game against us. Our midfield is not exactly a match for theirs.

    However, it may turn out to be a battle of wits between both managers and Arteta may come out on top – just like Lampard did vs Mourinho.

    On the other hand, I very much fancy our chances against Man Utd. But of course, I’d be happy if we won both games.

  19. Marc


    “but you might be talking to a businessman with international connections. ”

    I’m more likely to be talking to someone who used to have an adjacent cell to Charlie Manson.

  20. Rambo

    Emery lost both of his opening fixtures, which were against top 4 teams, as far as I can recall.

    Lets see if special sauce manages to do better.

  21. Marc


    I don’t think Xhaka’s worth that much – if we can get it fantastic.

    I know the view that there’s always someone stupid enough but Xhaka has just been so bad for so long.

  22. Marko

    He’s easily worth 35-50 million in the prime of his career.

    Absolute bollox of the highest order. First off he’s worth what somebody anybody will pay for him. And secondly that ain’t 35-50 million. Linked with Atletico last summer they went out and spend 35 million on Marcos Llorente. Linked with Inter they went out and got Sensi and Barrella instead. The only substantial link to him or actual evidence of a club bidding for him in the past whatever is Hertha Berlin for 21 million after being knocked back by Lyon for Tousart. So not only is he not worth 35-50 million but he’s also not wanted by a lot of clubs or not a first choice target either. Also Xhaka moving to Hertha Berlin at 27 isn’t the same as Shaqiri moving to Stoke at what 23.

  23. Dissenter

    Rodney king
    I think Arteta has the advantage against mangers for a while. He’s has the element of surprise in his favor because it’s hard to set up against him since he doesn’t have any established pattern of play yet.

  24. Ishola70


    “He’s easily worth 35-50 million in the prime of his career.”

    So basically you are pricing him out of a move in the next week or so.

    Berlin will not pay that. 30 million from them absolute tops.

  25. Gentlebris


    Goodness mine!

    Did you go to school at all?

    A hand shake today could mean billions in the bank tomorrow. Successful people do fly for hours just to go grab a hand!

    Pls just stop, because right now I feel like I’m really exposing you in a very serious manner.

  26. Marko

    There’s a reason Arteta has been hired on a 3.5 year long contract whereas Emery was given a two years contract.

    Technically he was given a 3 year contract there was just a clause that we could let him go after two if things weren’t working out.

  27. Dissenter

    You don’t think Arteta’s coaching will give Xhaka will get a new lick of paint? Hot sauce coaching can do wonders.
    I think the player will be motivated to perform for a new manager to facilitate his move and to prepare for the Euros in the summer.
    He will have more than one suitor come the summer.

  28. Marc

    That’s the thing saying you’re going to hold out for a big fee can end up with not being able to sell the player.

    Holding out for the maximum we can get without losing the chance to sell him whether it be this summer or next is the trick.

  29. Marko

    And this “turning him into a CF” sounds like the position is completely alien. It isn’t. His secondary position is CF.

    Stop will ya it’s the scenario you painted. Getting rid of strikers and replacing them with a winger so you can move Pepe into the CF position. It’s all so unnecessary. Just get a striker ffs I dunno why you’re trying to look smart suggesting that initially cause it’s pointless and silly. Not like there’s a shortage of young strikers out there

  30. TR7

    ‘Technically he was given a 3 year contract there was just a clause that we could let him go after two if things weren’t working out.’

    Still not the same as a 3 years contract.

  31. Ishola70


    Seeing the figure 50 million quoted for Xhaka even if you don’t really mean 50m in the end is huge trolling.

    Basically it is you saying we keep Xhaka at all costs.

    How much will you be looking for in the summer for him?

    Another 50m seen?

    Presumably yes. Why would your valuation of him go down.

  32. Marko

    Still not the same as a 3 years contract

    It’s a 3 year contract. That break clause was inserted because he averaged about 2-2.5 years at a club. It’s very possible that something similar is inserted into the contract of a very inexperienced and risky appointment too.

  33. Dissenter

    Just like we should have jumped at Everton’s first offer for Iwobi.
    If we sell Xhaka, it won’t be for anything less than we bought him. He’s 27 y/o at the prime of his career and was in the Bundesliga team of the year in his last season there. He’s certain to do well in that league.
    People wonder why we sell players on the cheap. Look no farther than fans with such low expectations.
    If Hertha Berlin’s billionaire owner can’t pony up the transfer fees they can eff off.

  34. Unai

    Cesc, good post but I’d like to point out its possible to believe;

    Our squad is underperforming and has quality but clearly needs some upgrades and flesh blood.

    Emery is not a bad coach but was terrible for Arsenal and it didn’t look like getting better.

    Things are wildly different for Arteta now than they were 18 months ago for Emery.

    I agree, Emery certainly deserved more respect at the start but hes not the coach anymore (rightly imo) , holding a grudge against people for being excited about Arteta for that fact just seems strange.

    It’s a bit early to be using words like demand or expect for Arteta, particularly when you consider who we’re about to face seems a bit strong for me, easy to see why its seen as knife sharpening.

    Who cares who said what 6,12,18 months ago, it’s just point scoring, Arteta is the coach now, hes not done anything obviously wrong yet and if he is infact shit, let’s have that discussion when he shows it.

  35. Ishola70


    What you are forgetting is that Xhaka has been heavily criticised from all sides since he has been playing in England and this for several years as well as showing serious dissent to his own fans.

    And of course there is the little matter that Xhaka actually wants to leave. He is forcing the move.

    This makes all your talk of getting up to 50m for him la-la land stuff.

  36. Ishola70

    Hertha are not in the position to sign world class stars.

    They are in a position atm to sign players of a certain standard who may have had problems at their current club.

    Players who have a bit of a name but are not real top performers.

    This is Xhaka territory and this is why Hertha Berlin are in to sign him.

  37. Chika

    “Would it be an exaggeration to say Luiz is a better passer of the ball than Xhaka ?”

    No it wouldn’t be an exaggeration, it would be a lie.

  38. Gunnernet

    What i noticed against Bournemouth was that players were going for challenges no matter how successful they were and tried to stop counter attacks by fouling and stopping the game. This clearly didnt happen much until lately.

    Xhaka was more instrumental again organizing the game, however, he was one of the players stepping backwards at the counter Bournemouth scored. Didnt go for the challenge because he knows then it is either a penalty or foul outside our penalty area. No matter what Arteta says we need to offload him asap.

    Maybe he says so to increase a bit his value

  39. azed

    Everyone including Pedro trying to push an agenda and missing the most important thing, we all(I believe) to do well.

    It didn’t work out for Emery and that doesn’t make him a bad coach.

    The focus should be moving forward and hoping Arteta does well.

  40. Manganese

    Suddenly everybody think Arteta inherited a squad full.of demented ex clowns that cannot play football anymore and are owed 6 months in wages.

    Ancelloti has already made in 2 wins in 2 games. And we are here saying pushing a phony agenda that Arteta can’t really make anything out of this squad.

    As much as I support Arteta, I want him to start winning games ASAP. He himself recognizes this, so stop making excuses for him before we have even kicked a ball.

    If we lose to Chelsea and Man U, it would be 3 losses in 3 games for Arteta. And it would be BAD!