Well, that was absolutely shite. I had a feeling there was going to be a bit of the Brighton’s about us last night; I turned out to be correct, we dominated possession, did absolutely fuck all with it, and conceded from a set-piece (45% of our goals this season according to the stat guys).
How utterly, utterly depressing.
The only positive I’ll take from that game is that we might get the chance to relegate Watford at the weekend. I much prefer Villa. Dean Smith is a good guy and I like some of the Villa players.
As for Arsenal, this is who we are. One moment, they’re taking bullets for 97 minutes, the next, they are flummoxed against a team that has been absolutely shite all season.
The usual suspects were problematic again. Rob Holding and Kola just don’t cut it for me. They’re not good enough on the ball and their fear of moving it forward is painful at times. The biggest mistake of the game for me was starting Lucas Torreira. We all want him to be the guy, but he doesn’t seem to have it. He was dreadful. He’s too small for the Premier League and I just don’t think he’s capable of being the warrior we need in the middle of the park. Striking that Arteta yanked him at half time, we haven’t seen that very often, but it was the correct decision.
People were also upset we fielded 3 center-forwards without any attacking midfielders. I don’t know if the hope was Lacazette would drop into a number 10ish role again, or the analysts assessed that Villa had conceded more shots than any team this season and it was likely we’d open them up after two strong wins. It didn’t work out. A lesson Arteta will have to learn. Maybe starting Willock would have been smarter (though he’s hardly pulled up trees), or perhaps moving Pepe into a 10 role? Who knows, some experiments don’t work, this one tanked.
Dani Ceballos had a solid game, but he doesn’t have devastation in his pocket when he’s probing the box. Granit Xhaka made things a little more interesting in the second half, but he’s far better at releasing the ball from deep than finding cute angles in the opposition area.
The harsh reality is if our wide players don’t show up, we offer fuck all to the forwards.
There is no point in controlling possession if you can’t convert it into a single shot. We can get angry about that, but it’s not a new problem, and the only way it’ll be solved is if we sign players that can do the job. I’d love Jack Grealish, the man has magnificent hair and unbelievable legs. Imagine that sort of creativity in your starting 11? Trouble is, we need two or three players like that.
The big positive from the game is that once again, Arteta has been reminded of the limitations of some of the players. Some of those deal extensions he’s thinking about might need a rethink. Some of those players he was thinking of keeping on, might just find their way out of the club. His team might start to realise that you can’t save some players from themselves. If you are weak mentally in your mid to late twenties, that’s probably a thing for life. You’ll get turns out of these guys, like the prior two games, but you’ll not get consistency, which is the difference between ok and elite.
We deserve everything we get this season in the league. We haven’t been good enough. The players aren’t of the right make-up for the way Arteta wants to play and there are too many players that can go missing when you need them. The points total speaks to that. We can solve that with a good summer, or at least progress to a much more coherent squad.
If you are now disgusted by the coach and you’re doubting things again, just take yourself back to the weekend. Remember the KLOPP OUT crew at Liverpool? The Fraudiola crowd? Lampard is a disgrace? Understand that everyone wants to be the first to call time on a coach. Those people will be wrong in the long run. This is not a sprint, there will be ups and downs, but Arteta is the right guy to carry us through.
The Cup Final will see us focused, I have little doubt about that. These players show up in the perceived bigger games, they are better when teams offer more than a deep block, we will also play our best 11. Bring that City energy to Villa and Brighton, we’re in the Europa League before the FA Cup. We didn’t, now we’re stuck in the same situation as last season… leaning on a Cup Final to save our summer. It’s grim, but we’ll do a better job of the final than we did last season.
The Villa result is not good enough, but it is what it is. Bumps are par the course. It doesn’t make it any easier, but if you pray hard enough tonight and donate to my Patreon, maybe we’ll do a little better.
Onto Watford, let’s hope we can finish the season by sending Troy and the boys to the Championship.
See you in the comments. x