Retribution.

by & filed under News Review.

I’ve been powering through a lot of books of late, leadership and power are my favoured topics because I have no power in my life and I’m bullied by the man at the laundrette who charges me double for my shirts because he says they are dresses. Anyway, I’m just over halfway through Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog and I stumbled across this line.

‘No matter the sport— no matter the human endeavor, really— total effort will win people’s hearts’

He was referencing Pre Fontaine, a legendary American distance runner, and how he captured the imagination of the crowd with his ‘put it all out there’ there approach to running.

Mikel Arteta has constantly referenced the connection between the fans and the players and how important it is. The hot takers (particular from The Guardian) have lent many paragraphs to the Arsenal fans being a problem for the players on the pitch. I’ve always thought this was a junk POV that totally misses the impact blood-and-guts spilling has on the fans. We’re all pretty basic, if players give it their all on the pitch, generally fans respond favourably. The new trend for citing ‘expectation’ as a problem in football reminds me of the years-long assault on the notion of ‘passion’ in the game. ‘Pashun merchant’ was an insult, generally directed to the sort of fan who didn’t understand the nuances of Mesut Ozil’s body language, and was widely derided as an unsophisticated desire of stupid fans. Skip to 2020 and one of the most perfect teams ever to exist is being managed by a passion merchant. Every Chairman now wants a lunatic on the touchline.

Fan expectations have never been the problem at United, coaching has been. Same was true at Arsenal. Citing fan ‘expectation’ always sounds nice because it sets you apart as a different sort of fan, more elite, thoroughly considered, just attending football so you can rock the flat cap, have a pie, and mix it with the working class. It’s not reality though. Expectations hold clubs accountable, everything should be in the name of a better footballing output, that’s what makes you an appealing club to join… which player, coach, analyst or business person would want to join a club that didn’t think fan expectations were a positive? None that you’d want to give a £180k a week contract to, that’s for sure. I think Mikel Arteta understands that. I don’t think he’d decry fan expectation, I think he desperately wants to meet and surpass them because that’s what ambition is.

I have not sat in an atmosphere like the one the players created at that United game in years. What changed? The players giving a fuck and showing it with their performances.

I think Arteta is using the adulation of the fans as a carrot to provoke an outrageous work ethic. When the fans will the team on, the players want to go harder, it’s a symbiotic relationship that can push them onto greater heights.

Tonight, at Chelsea, we’re going to need something from the fans and the players. Chelsea offers us a very quick opportunity to demonstrate progress. The 7th game under Arteta is a return leg Premier League game that gives us the chance to show the fans that the ideas are sinking in and the players are moving forward. It’s also an away game against a top 6 side that are in the same mess we’re in… chasing top 4 badly.

The game needs to be an all-out assault. It has to be war on the pitch. Tired legs aren’t an excuse in a derby like this. This needs to be retribution.

We didn’t deserve to lose last time around, the outcome really spun on a Cal Chambers injury and the terror of Mustafi on the pitch.

This time, it has to be different. Mustafi looked much better against Sheffield United at the weekend, and generally speaking, the defensive approach of the team looked much better. We really kept Chelsea quiet. That needs to be repeated for the full 90.

The major challenge for Arsenal is going to be how we operate moving forward. We’ve lacked creativity and the goals have tended to come from one place, Auba. He’s out for the second game of his suspension. That means we’re relying on Laca, Martinelli, Pepe and maybe Nkeitiah. I know a few people in the comments have been questioning whether anything has changed at Arsenal, which feels like a weird thing for someone to say that is so obsessed with Arsenal, they comment on a blog… so here’s a video from Statman Dave to explain where the club is going.

It’s going to be a tough evening, but hopefully, the adrenaline of a big game and a huge greasy chip on the player’s shoulders (sitting there because of the rough luck we’ve had) should drive us forward.

The manager wants to go all the way in the table.

“It’s very, very important for us to win this game to fight for [the top four],”

“The game we played at home could have made a big difference and we were very close to it. Tomorrow we need to win.”

“If we are able to win three or four games on the trot, then we are right there. That’s the challenge we have and all the teams have at the moment. When you look at the results from the weekend, all the draws, and how one decision changed the whole game between Burnley and Leicester, the margin is not that big. So it is complicated. You have to dominate every aspect of the game.”

The squad should be motivated to be back in the big time, they make top 4 it means a big fat bonus coming their way, elite status amongst their peers, pride, as well as the excitement of playing the best teams in the world. This game will tell us a lot about their belief, so I’m hoping for a big one.

Right, nice and short today, if you’re heading up to the game, take a listen of yesterday’s podcast I recorded with Alex.

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1,247 Responses to “Retribution.”

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  1. Guns of SF

    Kinda makes me think… no seniors and stars in this game for the most part.
    No Auba
    Ozil off at 55 mins
    Luiz off at 20 some mins….

    The kids bossed this game… and its freaking exciting…
    Add some pieces here and there… CB, CAM, CM, LW and we can go somewhere for sure…

  2. Sid

    Xhakalson is like a new signing at CB,
    the most needed position is and has always been midfield.

    Im relling you this for free!

  3. Pedro

    Benny, not sure how you turned that performance into another stale squad poverty argument.

    Yes, the squad needs work, no one ever denied that…but Arteta just got a turn out of a defence that had Mustafi, Xhaka, Saka and a freshly returned Bellerin… and a team that went down to 10 after 26.

    Imagine what he’d be doing with a full squad to choose from, with a full preseason.

  4. Receding Hairline

    Nothing stale about the argument certain players aren’t good enough at this level. Good heart shown yesterday to keep ourselves in the game and get something out of it but we didn’t start the game one man down by default did we,the sending off was self inflicted.

    We still had only two shots at goal all game, were clinical with it but like you always maintain or used to anyway it isn’t sustainable nor encouraging. And the players you listed weren’t defending as a back four while we pushed up and controlled the game,it was pretty much all hands on deck defending which is to be expected a man down, not really a blue print for the goodies that await us in future when we are 11 on the pitch and have to actually come out to play and create chances.

  5. Chris

    Arteta means business. His public demeanour is very positive but also steely. He knows what he wants and has the looks of someone who knows he is going to get it.

    As Pedro says, wait until he actually has his own set of players.

  6. Pierre

    Benny
    “Of course we all know what’s really going on here Pierre, you’ve been surreptitiously throwing in subtle Ozil criticisms for a while now.”

    I always find that honesty is the best policy.

    everyone was eulogising over Ozil’s performance v United ( yourself included) , I didn’t see it that way , and that is not a criticism of Ozil, it is me saying it was Ozil being Ozil…he did nothing special except run around a bit more .

    Last night Ozil I believe played as well or maybe better than in the United game , but he was slaughtered on here by most…again, it was Ozil being Ozil, doing what the team and the game needed at that particular time.

    It just shows that I look at the game different to them and you.

    And yes , it was the right time to take him off as we needed more energy to get back in the game …..honesty.

    Having Ozil in a 2 man midfield against there 3 was a gamble by Arteta and it worked as it helped Arsenal get a footing in the game.

    A 100% passing accuracy in the game ( an amazing stat) is confirmation of what I said at half time was correct

    “have taken off Ozil after the red , but to be honest he has been on the ball and has kept possession which is what we needed for that 15 minutes before half time as it allows us to have some breathing space at the back.Yes , I know it looks negative but intelligence is needed in these situations .”

    I would like to see him do more in the final 3rd and I believe he can and will raise his game to another level as I believe the team also needs to.

    Maybe that will happen together because as Arteta has said, Ozil needs the right structure around him to perform at his best , of which I totally agree.

  7. Receding Hairline

    Chris we are waiting, no one is attacking Arteta, he didn’t assemble this squad. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep harping back on what was said about certain characters in this squad long ago, they aren’t good enough or consistent enough.

  8. Receding Hairline

    How many passes did Ozil attempt last night? How many of those passes can be termed difficult? Running with a stat like accurate passing and calling it amazing is dishonest, all this while pointing out how honest you are.

  9. Receding Hairline

    Ozil had 34 touches in 55 minutes last night, attempted 30 passes and completed them. We have arrived at a point where it’s termed amazing a 31 year who is one of the highest paid players in world football is called amazing for completing 30 passes in a game of football

  10. Pierre

    RH
    The thing is , when a team is one nil down and down to ten men , the most important thing is to try and retain possession, especially in the crucial 20 minutes before half time .

    Ozil played for the team , he used his intelligence .
    He could have quite easily looked to play long balls , difficult balls or impossible through balls but he used all his game know how to retain possession.

    A 100% passing rate away to chelsea and down to ten men is something that Arsenal fans should be applauding not criticising.

    Luckily there are enough Arsenal fans with football knowledge who respect intelligent football …

  11. Chris

    Receding

    When I say wait until he gets more players he would desire in, it was more my personal excitement at that prospect rather than an assessment of our current squad.

  12. Lego Hair

    Guns of sf

    ‘ I agree, watching bits and pieces at work’

    No wonder you don’t get it. Wasn’t even fully engaged in the game and has the cheek.

    Definitely triggered. Bringing trump into things? Wow. Typical San Fran victim shouting the loudest without having even watched the game. Priceless.

    Tell you what go back home after you finish on the bins…if you can squeeze it between rounders and egg chasing.

    Lesson 1: Actually watch the match then comment that’s how this works.

    Lesson 2: I’ll teach you about the nuances of football and game management.

    To be fair I haven’t got that much spare time. You’ll just have to stay in the remedial class with Marko and the other know nothings.

  13. Lego Hair

    Morning Pierre

    I see you’re starting football 101 classes early today.

    Just put the dunce hat on RH, you’re fighting a losing battle as he hasn’t the brain capacity to take on board anything you say about football.

  14. Un na naai

    Now tell me chelsea are better than us!!

    It’s taken us handing them goals and going down to 10 men ti give them anything this season

    As I said
    We are better than Chelsea
    We are better than untied
    And we aren’t far behind spurs

    Arteta has been so unlucky in his first 7 matches and still only lost once while playing big rivals 3/7

    Injuries, awful mistakes from defensive players, and bad refereeing decisions aside he’s done fantastically well and you can see the difference in the players now

    Get everyone (or a few more) fit and we will storm up that table.

  15. Un na naai

    Receding HairlineJanuary 22, 2020 06:53:52
    Chris we are waiting, no one is attacking Arteta, he didn’t assemble this squad. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep harping back on what was said about certain characters in this squad long ago, they aren’t good enough or consistent enough.

    Hairbrain

    A squad who pulled level with Chelsea (superior apparently) with 10 men twice

    A squad shorn of 8 first team players due to injury

    Do me a favour and get bent. Everyone else bar you and that Tosser Rambo has a spring in their step after such a spirited fight back so jog on you soggy biscuit

  16. Freddie Ljungberg

    Don

    The problem is quality. The only players missing from our starting XI is Auba and then we get weaker if Martinelli goes out and Laca stays, Tierney and a CB whoever that is instead of Mustafi.

    Every game is a struggle for us, we make it so hard on ourselves because we have some players that always make mistakes, and we create very little going forward. That’s a quality issue, not something coaching is going to fix.

  17. Un na naai

    Their was an air of the old arsenal there last night. The arsenal that never knew when we were beaten.
    If that’s a sign of things to come then we are in for a really good few years under Tets

    We won’t win a league title or champions league but we will have some excitement again and some satisfying results
    We may even finish second and reach a semi though.

  18. Pierre

    Fred
    Do you seriously believe that Aubameyang, Lacazette, Ozil, Pepe , Martinelli, Saka, ceballos , Nketiah and Nelson lack quality.

    Emery destroyed the creativity in the side and it will be Arteta’s next job in his rebuilding of the confidence in the team .

  19. Un na naai

    Freddie LjungbergJanuary 22, 2020 08:30:17
    DonThe problem is quality. The only players missing from our starting XI is Auba and then we get weaker if Martinelli goes out and Laca stays, Tierney and a CB whoever that is instead of Mustafi.

    Freddie
    Chambers, sok holding Tierney Aubameyang, bellerin, Kolasinac who only just came back last night but was not fit and Ceballos who is just about making the bench to up the numbers and Nelson

    9 players there who are all starting material for arsenal
    9 players who gives the coach options and allows him to move Saka upfield and time take Pepe or ozil our if the team if they aren’t producing.

    We don’t have any variety or choice at the moment cos we are bare bones
    Don’t make out this is our first 11 for every single game
    Some of these players need resting now
    Torreira, xakha, Pepe, Lacazette, Saka, Martinelli. You want them fit and rested for our next league game.

  20. Leedsgunner

    Mustafi is the biggest flop we have ever signed. Every time he plays he demonstrates why he shouldn’t play… and the guy is so unaware he has convinced himself to to blame the fans.

    No wonder he doesn’t improve, he refuses to take responsibility!

    That bundle of buffoonery cost the club £35m plus millions in wages!

  21. Un na naai

    If chambers and holding were fit from August to now I bet they would be our cb pairing. Tierney. Bellerin. That’s 4
    And Aubameyang.

    He may choose nelson over Pepe in certain games and Ceballos over ozil

    That’s 7 starting options he doesn’t have.
    Kolasinac too offers something different to Tierney and Saka and was forming a promising understanding down the left with xakha and Aubameyang before his unity

  22. Mark

    Un na –
    we are on a results lag . A bit like if you’ve ever done the running thing and you are desperately pushing to do the 10ks after getting to 5k. Eventually you hit pay dirt and you can start pressing gears and the 10ks become simpler . Back to football and Arsenal are having to put in 120% to get where they need. However it looks like it’s starting to click. The inevitable 5-1 defeat under Wenger or even a 3-1 under Emery didn’t happen instead the hard yards put in gave us confidence .
    I’m fully expecting some sort of run to begin a winning streak within the next month.
    Chelsea are an enigma, Mourinho has got Spuds conceding more goals and OGS just keeps on getting bad result resets.
    I’m with you in this

  23. Un na naai

    PierreJanuary 22, 2020 08:40:09
    Fred
    Do you seriously believe that Aubameyang, Lacazette, Ozil, Pepe , Martinelli, Saka, ceballos , Nketiah and Nelson lack quality.

    It’s a crazy list of talented players

    Shit Chelsea and united would kill for such attacking riches

  24. Gonsterous

    Mark

    Well here’s praying we get into a run of wins because top 4 is still there for the taking.

    City and pool are guaranteed but other than that, the rest of the team’s look like they are getting worse each week.

    Leicester may make it, but an injury to any key player and they are fked because I don’t see them having quality in depth.

    Spurs with the injuries are unravelling and chelsea and utd can’t finish off games.

  25. Un na naai

    The backpassJanuary 22, 2020 08:23:28
    Now we are better than chelsea? Jesus christ. Then sheffield utd are better than arsenal then

    Yes
    We have a better team than Chelsea.
    And Manchester United

    No doubt it my mind
    Chelsea have been ridiculously lucky against us
    So were Sheffield
    So were palace

    The only team where we’re not was Leeds

  26. Un na naai

    Mark

    Yes I think we are about to embark on a winning streak
    Great mentality Arteta has installed in no time
    Plenty of talent
    Good coach with ideas and a solid foundation
    As long as we keep Mustafi away from the team we are going on a winning streak

  27. Freddie Ljungberg

    Pierre

    “Do you seriously believe that Aubameyang, Lacazette, Ozil, Pepe , Martinelli, Saka, ceballos , Nketiah and Nelson lack quality.”

    Out of those only Auba are producing at a top level, Martinelli is starting to but he’s just a kid, Ozil hasn’t done anything for more than 2 years for us as has been firmly established by now, Pepe still adapting but is our biggest threat outside Auba, Nelson is an inconsistent kid and although he shows flashes isn’t really producing much, Nketiah? Yeah, his 5 minutes of playing time doing nothing really turned our season around. Ceballos hasn’t adapted, if it’s because of injuries or he just can’t deal with the pace I don’t know but again another player that doesn’t produce for us.

    So yes it’s about quality, or more the lack of it in CB, CM, Cam most of all, same problem we’ve had for years.

  28. KJS

    Regular reader but don’t post often as I can’t really keep fully up to speed of the thread during a working day.

    Sometimes, when reading certain comments, i do wonder if I have arrived in a goldfish bowl where certain posters have somehow forgotten MA has been in the job 1 month!!

    During that time he has had to fit in 7 x games, against a back drop of some key injuries and suspensions. Take out the rest days and compute that into the number of days he has actually had to work with, what was a broken mess. Then please tell me, how you’ve ripped up trees in a new job over the same period of time and therefore what exactly you were hoping MA would have delivered by now that he hasn’t? I am intrigued.

    Last night we didn’t just go down to 10 men, we got hit with the double jeopardy of going a goal down at the same time. Then fought back not once but twice during the remaining 70 minutes. Yes, it wasn’t perfect, but…………. spoiler alert…………..football is not and never will be a game of perfect.

    As a fan/supporter if you can’t extract any joy whatsoever out of a game like last night, then football probably isn’t for you.

    Have a good day all

  29. Freddie Ljungberg

    Oh forgot Saka, he’s been great at LB, hope we can get him back on the wing soon.

    I like what I see from quite a lot of our youngsters, it’s ( some of) the senior players that let us down time and time again.

    Still, I’m not expecting the kids, most of whom are only starting to get serious playing time this season, to carry the team by themselves, they need help and right now they’re not getting much of that. Or you have some players constantly underperforming making every game an uphill battle, we can’t afford to carry a bunch of passengers.

  30. Freddie Ljungberg

    KJS

    Only a few trolls are blaming this on Arteta or are starting to say Arteta out, most understand that it’s on the players not being good enough.

    We all know our spine isn’t good enough and hasn’t been for years, this isn’t something that started 1 month ago and it won’t get fixed by coaching either. The only issue I have with him is that he convinced Xhaka to stay instead of looking to upgrade on him. Other than that he’s doing a decent/good job.
    Would have been a higher rating if we had more than 1 win but he’s not a miracle worker.

  31. Un na naai

    Freddie

    There is quality there in abundance
    I think what you’re really trying to say it’s about consistency. As in getting these talented players to click and produce consistently. And I’ve no doubt they will.

    Arteta is working with one arm tied behind his back. Every time he sends his team out we lose another player from his plans.
    He needs everyone back sharpish so he can select a settlers defence and then once he has that he can go to work properly at the t’other end

    He’s doing things the right way
    A performance like last night with so many players including our top scorer out with 19 men will give these players and enormous lift

  32. Un na naai

    Freddie

    I cannot speak of Saka highly enough. Such a composed elegant little player. Great football brain. Good eye for a first time pass. Reads the game well and plays it beautifully.
    He’s got it all.

    Probably our most well rounded young player who ticks the most boxes

    He and martinelli could be phenomenal
    If ESR achieves his potential and nelson can be as good as Arteta thinks he can then we have a front 4 ready made for a decade or more

  33. Graham62

    If someone’s getting paid £350k a week and they are seen as being an elite footballer, I would expect them to pass the ball accurately and play with intelligence.

    Wouldn’t you?

  34. KJS

    Don’t disagree FL. The Xhaka thing is a tough one as we don’t know the detail behind whether there would be any money to replace him and we don’t really have enough depth in midfield to simply not replace him this month, if he had left.

    Let’s not do trolling any favours though – he has 2 x wins in 7, or does the FA Cup not count? I would love more W’s but equally we have only tasted defeat once under MA.

  35. Freddie Ljungberg

    Don

    That’s the thing when you have to rely too heavily on 18 and 19 years olds still finding their feet on a senior level, you get inconsistent output. But that’s far from our biggest problem.

    Xhaka has shaped up a bit and hasn’t dropped any clangers in a minute so the biggest problem right now is we have no CBs (Mustafi isn’t a football player anymore) and that playing with Ozil is like playing with 10 men, he offers nothing, even if you discount how terrible he is off the ball he creates nothing anymore and hasn’t done for 2 years, this isn’t a slump in form, he’s done.

    Injuries doesn’t help either of course but that excuse didn’t fly before so don’t drag it out now.

  36. Freddie Ljungberg

    KJS

    Ah, didn’t think FA. Was counting the 1 in 6 in the league.

    We had 25m on the table, I’m sure we could have scrounged up some more if needed but that would have been enough by itself. It is what it is.

    Maybe the club surprises us late in the window, we could really need a boost of quality to see out the season and set us up for next.

  37. Tenerife Gooner,

    At my lowish level,I became a Central defender by accident,and became a Hero.I would play Xhaka there,and make him Captain.

  38. Leedsgunner

    Xhaka had one game as a decent centre back. In reality, we got away with it.

    Let’s not kid ourselves, Xhaka is a decent squad player but he wouldn’t be anywhere near the starting XIs of previous editions of the Arsenal.

    Let’s not kid ourselves thinking that Xhaka is the nw found answer to our defensive problems.

    Stop trying to be clever and just sign two dominant centre backs.