by .

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.

Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify

1,099 Responses to “Retribution.”

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  1. bennydevito

    Champagne CharlieJanuary 21, 2020    22:32:25

    Be interested to see Xhaka’s numbers from the game, he was imperious from the moment we went down to 10 men.

    Best player on the pitch.


    Wahahahaha! Xhaka’s groupie bringing us joke Friday and April fools’ day early.

    He did well at CB which was incredibly surprising, but to say he played better than Martinelli, Saka, Bellerin or Torreira is a very long agenda driven face saving exercise, a bit like Pierre woth Ozil.

    In the summer Ozil, Mustafi and Xhaka need to be first out the door. At a push Xhaka stays as emergency squad player.

  2. bennydevito

    As great as Martinelli’s goal was, fact is if Kante hadn’t done a slippy G he would have got the ball because Martinelli’s touch was awful, but what pace and composure.

    I said at the start of the season that Martinelli is the closest we’ve had to Anelka and could go all the way.

    Absolutely brilliant.

  3. Brooklyn

    Re: Arteta, Ceballos Catalonia thing:

    There was a news/report about Ceballos being anti-Catalonia. Apparently there is video/report about Ceballos saying ‘death to all catalonians’ or some thing similarly bad and few other things.

    All this when Ceballos was young 13-17 yrs of age??

    May not mean anything, but still putting it out there.

  4. Guns of SF

    Maybe Ceballos should study world history some more- or the history of the Americas to find out about Spanish Inquisition and atrocities on natives people worldwide before spouting his mouth off….

  5. Brooklyn

    Good game, very good considering red card so early on. Red for Luiz was harsh considering new rule. Luiz was also at fault for unnecessary aggression in such situation.

    New rule says as long as player is making genuine attempt to win the ball it is only yellow and penalty. Scope for refree to show favoritism if there is any.

    Mustafi, showed why he is among best defenders statistically. Stats don’t show 1 or 2 clanger he drops every game. Man is monster in clearance, blocks and header for relatively short guy. Sell fast.


    Laca is …um…bad?? Barca are looking for CF, 40-50 mil anyone??

    Martinelli is monster at getting in scoring position.

  6. Mysticleaves

    Before Martinelli scored, Arsenal didn’t have a shot on goal. That’s grim.

    Generally we also looked much more assured and dangerous with 10 men

  7. Guns of SF

    I agree, watching bits and pieces at work, I noticed a much more determined side- not willing to sit back and defend… we went out and kept attacking them- even with 10 men…
    Under Emery I doubt this would happen… We are as good as Chelsea or better… even our loss at home.. we had them and made bone head errors at the end.

    We get a better CB, LB, LW and CAM we can do something… this summer we need to really pick up some better pieces to challenge.

    Martinelli fearless kid… love his spirit. I read that in the previous game, he actually yelled at Ozil to help cover… and guess what ? Ozil did it…
    SO the kid has some balls- a fighter

  8. Nelson

    “report about Ceballos saying ‘death to all catalonians’ or some thing similarly bad and few other things.”

    Shit! Areta and Pep are from Barca.

  9. Guns of SF

    link to the article… cursing out the Catalans and Basque…
    both wanting independence…

    He said some other shit too… just google it.
    Talking about Casillas penis size in a twitter spat…

    Sounds like a royal shithead….
    Might have some legs- seeing that Arteta was born in Basque country

    Born in San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, Arteta began his football career at Antiguoko[6] and befriended fellow midfielder Xabi Alonso as they played together every weekend.

  10. bennydevito

    “We have not made a mistake with Arteta, but what is becoming absolutely apparent is that there are a lot of players in that squad that he can’t trust.”

    Pedro on his latest podcast.

    Good podcast again Pedro, but it cut out short at the end.

    Couldn’t agree more Pedro and it looks like myself, Bamford, Cesc Appeal, Freddie Ljungberg, Dissenter & Receding hairline amongst others were right all along; Emery wasn’t good enough, but neither are a lot of the players and the criticism towards Emery was completely over the top and entirely agenda driven, because Emery wasn’t the one a lot on here wanted after Wenger.

    Under Emery there was no such thing as player poverty, X amount spent, we have the 4th or 3rd best squad some were saying, but now under Arteta after 4 draws 1 win and 1 loss all of a sudden it is some of the players after all.

    I’m glad we’ve finally come to this conclusion because I think Arteta is doing a brilliant job and would be gutted for the players to ultimately cost him the job.

    Like I’ve said before, we’ve got a big rebuild job on our hands this summer for the squad to be good enough for Arteta, I just hope we’ve got the guts and the money to do what’s necessary.

  11. 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…

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. Pierre

    “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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. Pierre

    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 …

  21. Chris


    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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. Freddie Ljungberg


    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.

  25. Pierre

    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 .

  26. 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!

  27. 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

  28. Gonsterous


    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.

  29. Freddie Ljungberg


    “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.

  30. 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………… 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

  31. 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.

  32. Freddie Ljungberg


    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.

  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


    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


    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.