What a depressing weekend. Spurs beating City capped off a very miserable day that started with a grim draw at Burnley.
This was the first really bad performance under Mikel Arteta. The players didn’t look like they were at the races and our defending, though largely resolute, relied more on luck than good technique.
The main problem for me was our insipid approach in the final third. No one seems to have the guts to play through the lines outside David Luiz. We had a lot of possession, but two shots on target to show for it (13 shots off target). Mesut Ozil just isn’t creating quality chances like he used to and there’s continuation of the balance issue we had under Emery… Lacazette and Auba don’t work well together in a front three.
It is odd that Lacazette keeps landing minutes. His confidence sinks a little more with each passing game. Against Burnley, someone with no physical prowess is always going to be eaten alive. His hold up play was subpar and his offerings to the attacking gods were limited. It was also a rare quiet day for Gabriel.
The real problem for us came when Saka picked up an injury and we had to drop Granit Xhaka into defence again. There was no outlet on the left and we had no one with the confidence to whip dangerous balls into the box.
LT came on at halftime to give us a little more bit, but he’s not really an attacking threat. Matteo had a bit of a stinker if we’re honest, he played a very meek game. Sometimes I think he’d prefer to be fouled because it means he doesn’t have to risk doing something that’ll progress the attack. His default was to pass sideways or behind him. He’s Denilson with better hair. That midfield needs someone that wants to move forward, or someone that can burst through the lines with sheer force of will. When the midfield lacks power and ambition, you get stuck in a rut of purposeless possession.
Mikel’s subs weren’t up to much either. The game was crying out for a Dani Ceballos or a Nicolas Pepe, but neither were called upon. That’s 3 managers in a row that have had misgivings about those two. Makes you wonder.
We did have our chances, Auba pushed a header wide and he fluffed his lines when he was played through by a beautiful Luiz ball. Another day, he’s taking those and we’re having an ugly win conversation.
Defensively, it has to be noted that Mustafi was a beast today. He won 6/8 of his aerial duels and he made 7 clearances and 2 interceptions. Not bad for a player that had to admit he was shite on the .com a month ago.
The usual suspects are jumping to call the Arteta hire a mistake. Again, I repeat, this mess was never going to be solved quickly. No manager had a magic solve for a club with so many problems. The manager will make mistakes while he works out what the right path is, today he made a few, and he’ll continue to do so. What we should look for are the positives. We kept a clean sheet, the team worked hard, and our defensive structure has taken grip far quicker than we’d hoped it would.
Chance creation wasn’t really an area I thought we’d struggle with. You’d think a Pep disciple would have us purring going forward, but it’s yet to happen. The plan seems to be: create a stable base, then move onto balancing solidity with some flair. That’ll need time. Hopefully a trip to Dubai will help the manager work on the next set of objectives… then we can destroy Newcastle 9-0 when we return.
We need some wins, 6 for the season is truly embarrassing, I have faith though… we have good players, their quality will shine when the ideas start to click.
Right, see you in the comments. x