Reframing expectations.

by .

‘United will get run ragged by the German boys’

The coolest take of mine this week.

Getting smashed by OGS 5-0 is embarrassing. But look, that’s the reality of United, they have a lot of good players that on their night, can be absolutely devastating.

… poor Nagelsmann. That’s a real spanking. Another one of my hipster fantasies running into problems.

So, onto Arsenal.

We host Dundalk. It’s a dreamy story of a team that’s climbed the ranks with a coach that was teaching kids to play football in America not so long ago. What a day out they’re going to have.

We should beat them, but they’ll be high on life, so this will very much take on the vibe of an early-round FA Cup game. I’m praying for a win out here…

There’s a lot of misery around Arsenal and Arteta at the moment. Everyone needs to take a reality pill and get back on track with what the project is about.

This time last year, people were genuinely talking about Arsenal getting relegated. We were 12 points off 1st, and 4 points off 14th. There was no direction, the players looked uninterested, and things were about to get very, very bad for us.

We hired in a 38-year-old manager. He expertly steered us out of a hideous situation and stabilised the club. That was a huge task most thought he was incapable of.

His biggest mission has been to change the culture of the club, that takes time, especially when you can’t turn over large chunks of the squad that were badly recruited.

Arteta tasked himself with making us difficult the beat. He has achieved that. No one comes to Arsenal to roll us these days, you might think that’s no big deal, but we have literally been getting rolled by top teams for 10 years. We are good at defending. We have the second-best defence in the league and we rarely concede more than one goal. Shots against us have drastically reduced. Again, you might think that’s par the course, but it is within living memory that Watford had 32 attempts at our goal.

Part one of the job is on track. The foundation has been set. The next phase is about fixing the attack.

Here, we have to be realistic. Solving that problem with internal solutions, to the level we require, is unlikely to happen. We don’t have the attacking riches United, Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea or City have… even Everton look like they have better-attacking options than we do.

We clearly lack a #10 or a modern #8 player. It isn’t one player either, it’s two. We don’t have players that thrive in the half-spaces. There’s no Hleb, Santi, Wilshere or Rosicky to make the magic happen. We’re currently relying on Saka adapting to that role, and that will be a huge ask. He’s more suited as a wide player.

Wide player-wise, there’s simply no world in which Arteta sanctions £72m for Pepe. He’s not playing well because he’s not that good. We hope based on his price tag, the reality is, if his name was Billy Smith and he was a youth player, we’d not be interested. Reiss Nelson is now the answer, but let’s be honest, he was struggling the break into Hoffenheim after a blistering start and we spent the summer trying to move him on. We love Gabriel, but it’s still a stretch to think he’s going to be a teenage saviour this season.

Then you look at the striking options. Auba through the middle isn’t an option because he can’t hold the ball up in the way we’d like. Lacazette isn’t right, and Eddie seems a way off ready. Fans are pumping Balogun?! That’s not right.

If we’re realistic, solving our attack is going to be very, very tough.

At the moment, our approach is to squeeze out chances to make our powerplays. The hope is that out of 4-5 good chances we create, we score one and batten down the hatches. This season, our form has been poor and we’re not taking our chances. Nothing has clicked and lady luck has covid.

You also have to accept that when you hire a young coach, they will make mistakes and misjudge situations. Arteta has a high ceiling, but he has to learn. We couldn’t afford to spend £15m on Poch, so we took a chance on potential. He will fumble, he will do odd things, but that’s a price worth paying, because when he gets it right, and he will, it’ll be worth the entrance fee.

‘SACK HIM’ is not analysis. It’s what stupid people who live in the moment say. Again, worth noting that the ‘best young coach in the world’, just had his arse handed to him by OGS. RB Leipzig is a very well assembled side deep into its development. They made the semi-finals of the Champions League last season. They are a good team, but bumps in the road are part of the journey when you bring in a young manager. Even Jose, with a far better squad than ours, tanked a 3-0 lead to West Ham.

I also find the perversion people have over William Saliba very, very odd. Arsenal are pretty good at defending. If we are not including a young player in our squad this season, there’s a good reason for it. The player had fitness issues last season, so we know there are problems there, because the Premier League is brutal. He can’t speak English, which is also tough to manage. He’s 19 years old, has just moved to a new country, and he’s dealing with horrendous personal problems. Do we think throwing a precocious talent into the first team, just because Dave on the internet saw two minutes of him on Youtube, is a good idea? Do we need to wreck him in front of millions to prove a point? 19-year-old centre backs at the highest level of the Premier League are a very, very, very rarely a thing. Arteta is protecting a player that has a very, very, very long career ahead of him. You are really struggling if your analysis of our problems right now is #FreeSaliba… but again, when things are not going well, any average idea is given oxygen.

Arteta will experiment. He is humble enough to admit when he’s wrong. He will develop his ideas. But you need to brace for the fact that the path to top 4 is not paved in goals, it’s brick walls and ruthless discipline… and the hope that January might bring a present or two.

Don’t lose faith. Don’t covet busted flushes that started with better tools. Keep the faith. This is the way. xx

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896 Responses to “Reframing expectations.”

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  1. TheLegendaryDB10


    I agree. Elneny has once again been very solid so far doing the right passes needed.


    I can see why Willian us being subbed in as he needs these minutes to get to know our style if play.

    But I don’t think Ceballos is needed though.

  2. Marc


    He’s looked fine but you need to take the opposition into account.

    Let’s not claim we’ve got the second coming of Martinez just yet.

  3. Useroz

    Better vision from Nelson and Balogun would be thru. I’d rather Nelson or someone tries those than another safe pass.

  4. Dissenter

    That’s why CC has been up–talking Reiss Nelson. If Pepe won’t rise up to the occasion give Nelson a chance.
    Maybe that’s what Pepe needs to get going…competition

  5. Marko

    Willock has been good, disruptive because he moves vertically more than most. Obviously must be doing that against the wishes of Arteta…

    I know you meant it as a joke though it would explain an absence from premier league games perhaps

  6. Jamie

    Would’ve been nice to see what Balogun can do with the ball but he won’t get a touch. Hopefully we top the group with a game spare and give him more game time.

  7. TheLegendaryDB10

    Happy with that 3 nil win.

    To be fair one had to expect considering how shit Dundalk were.

    I am far more worried about our game vs Manure and Mike “the absolute cunt” Dean.

    We really need to make sure that we stay composed vs these cheating scumbags.

  8. Champagne charlie

    Attack vs Defence, hard to pull any conclusions from that.

    Willock, Nelson, Cedric all bright. Happy to see Runnalongson get minutes, Pepe get a morale boost.

    We have a gaping hole behind the striker, my word what a difference a Coutinho would make to the side. Loads of players favour a particular side of the pitch, it’s an easier role to play than having space 360 degrees. Pity ESR is struggling with his body, because there’s a massive opportunity for a guy like him.

  9. salparadisenyc

    Reiss Nelson looked feisty made a decent case for himself, Pepe with a right footed goal screamer, that must be a first. Ideal confidence build for those two.

    Willian got the run out to build for United, be interested to see where he slots in.

    Mik going with a back line of Elneney, Kola, AMN and Soares at the end, not something you see every day.

    Clearly Iceman is the new Emi, immense in all areas.

  10. Raulishuss

    As if willock olaysu in the same position with xhaka or they both perform the same role. Nice win tho. Nothing much to talk about but willock and Nelson really had a superb game. I can’t wait for willock to mature Guy’s going to be a good player that’s for sure

  11. TheLegendaryDB10

    Agree with you there CC.

    Coutinho would do us a world of good to finally have a creative.AM.

    I am nor sure how feasible it is to get him this Jan but he would be a good target this summer.

  12. Ishola70

    “Anybody willing to bet that on Sunday Xhaka will start and Willock be on the bench if even in the squad.”

    As much as I’d love to see Xhaka out of the first XI you can’t really be championing a player based on a performance against such a team as Dundalk.

  13. Pierre

    I like the look of Balogan, could be explosive given the chance..

    What i do find strange is that he did nothing of note in the game ( not necessarily his fault) and all the comments are positive, whereas Eddie scores yet another goal and is slaughtered on here…
    Eddies goal was a goal that only he can score, brave and alert

    Willock i have always liked , he showed tonight that he has quality and with him , it’s a confidence thing and you could see his confidence growing in the game as he realised that he was the best player on the pitch .

    Nelson also grew in confidence as the game progressed and i believe the kids have given Arteta a problem selection wise .

  14. Valentin


    Willock runs with the ball and bring something different. He has pace and I would rather have somebody with pace against ManUtd rather than Xhaka.

    Xhaka has his place in the team, but against a team that will play counter-attack football, he will be exposed by his lack of pace. Pogba will ping long balls toward Rashford and Martial and Xhaka will be left in the dust.

  15. Valentin


    “Val, What is your opinion on Islam?”

    I don’t really care about religion. My wife is the believer.
    I was raised believing that religion like sex life should be a private affair and should not interfer with politics.

  16. Ishola70

    “Willock runs with the ball and bring something different. He has pace and I would rather have somebody with pace against ManUtd rather than Xhaka.”

    He is more likely to disappear though isn’t he like he has done too often before when being given chances in the higher end matches.

    He is going to have to really convince in a top end game Valentin before fans start screaming for his inclusion.

    Dundalk don’t cut it I’m afraid.

  17. Valentin

    What happen in France is not religion. It is terrorism. It is mostly disfranchised former petty criminal people who latched on some death cult.
    Most of the French Muslim are disgusted by those nutters, because more and more associates their religion with them.

  18. Rich


    So you want Willock to be included instead of Xhaka on Sunday?

    But you also don’t want Willock to be included because he lacks experience in high end matches?

    Make up your mind….

  19. Valentin


    I made the comment regarding Willock before the game.
    I think that with Partey and Willock, we have more athleticism and more vertical movement.

    I know Arteta is not going to play those formation, but personally against ManUtd, I would play with two strikers up top. Aubameyang and Lacazette to stay close together and combine. ManUtd defense is poor, so our only chance is to put them pressure. 3-5-2.
    With 3 players in central midfield: Partey+Willock and Ceballos or Saka further up.

  20. Valentin


    I know he won’t, but if we play our usual formation with the same personnel, we will play in ManUtd’s hand. We will have lots of ball without going anywhere and they will sucker punch us.

  21. Nelson

    Pepe has demonstrated that he is dangerous playing through the middle. He can score from outside the box. A lot of times, the match can be decided by one goal.

  22. WengerEagle


    Have been going backwards every year since winning the title in the Invincibles season pretty much.

    Title race the following season, CL Final run the following one before the true end of that era of players with the mass exodus of Henry, Pires, Vieira, Cole, Campbell, Lauren in the space of a couple of windows.

    Since then only the 2007-08 season was a real standout one, well over a decade ago. Only becomes harder to bridge the gap as the years slip by, look at United.

    It’ll be 17 years since we won the title in the summer, we all used to mock Liverpool for going 30 years without winning one, that could easily be us in 2034 if things don’t drastically change which they don’t look like doing.

  23. WengerEagle


    United were bang at it vs Leipzig too, looked sharp.

    We haven’t won there in the Premier League since Adebayor’s winner in 2006, absurd really. Even post Fergie when United were on their knees, we could never get over the hump travelling to OT in the league.

    Teams to have beaten Man United at Old Trafford in the PL since we last managed it:

    Man City x7 [6 times since 2011]
    Tottenham x4
    West Brom x3
    Chelsea x2
    Liverpool x2
    Southampton x2
    Crystal Palace x2
    Norwich City
    Swansea City
    Newcastle United
    Blackburn Rovers
    Aston Villa
    Cardiff City

    Half of the teams that have been in the league over that time period basically, lol.

    United only lost 9 PL matches at Old Trafford in 114 PL home matches between 2007-2013 and only 4 matches out of 76 matches between 2007-2011. Pretty insane record.

  24. havyn

    Laca is a wash out. He came in for 56m and 182k a week and look at what we’ve got? Poor in every game he plays.

    In January, we should get rid of Papa, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Laca and Cedric Soares

  25. raptora

    Ye the record is insane but since Fergie left they’ve not been the same team. How have we not managed to win there in 14 tries is bonkers. It goes far deeper than the quality of players since half of the teams that have gotten all 3 points there are not even in the EPL anymore.

    Now with no crowd allowed is going to be our best chance, yet we are so gash that I wouldn’t bet money on us even getting a draw. Although we should be fairly close to them in quality, since the start of the season we stopped progressing and we’ve stood still for almost 2 months. In the same time period they had their down vs spuds but since then they’ve been doing good. When we add the psychological problem we have playing at their stadium to the current form of both teams and we’d be lucky to get a draw.

    Still one can only hope that with their shady defence and with the eventual spaces they could free, Auba could get some chances and if he does we will get something out of it. Imo Manure’s midfield isn’t much better than ours after Partey’s arrival, so I would like to see us winning that part of the field or at least having a go at it. Play all three of Partey, Elneny, Ceballos with Elneny the one to press them further down the pitch and Partey and Ceballos pivot. Auba central with Saka and Pepe on both sides and we could do alright.

    Elneny is decently fast so he could do well on the counter as well. If Auba plays through the middle he will get a chance or two guaranteed, so we’ll have that going for us.

    My head is telling me 2-0, my heart is telling me 1-1.

  26. raptora

    A flat display triggered Mourinho to make four changes at half-time, with Dele Alli, Steven Bergwijn, Carlos Vinicius and Giovani Lo Celso all hooked in the 1-0 defeat.

    “I don’t want to analyse individually. You always tell me ‘why is this player not playing, why is this player not playing’ – maybe you don’t ask me that for a few weeks as you have the answer. Tonight shows my future choices are going to be very easy.”

    Mouninho will never change.

  27. Gonsterous


    No way kola and co are getting sold. If Mustafi was offered a contract, you know the club values kola, laca, and xhaka. They might get extensions as well which will be mental. Mid table mediocrity for years to come.

  28. Emiratesstroller

    We played last night with what might be described as a second string team against weak
    opposition who would be considered probably third division at best.

    Willock had a decent game, but otherwise there was not a lot to write home about. The major
    concern for me is that Nketiah looked distinctly average even at this level. The idea that Arteta considers him even remotely First Team standard is worrying.

  29. Tony

    “The major concern for me is that Nketiah looked distinctly average even at this level. The idea that Arteta considers him even remotely First Team standard is worrying.”

    Couldn’t agree more. Nkethiah couldn’t make it in Germany, with Leeds and now back with us.

    He should be sold in Jan or loaned out because Nkethiah doesn’t deserve more 1st 11 game time.

    From the highlights I watched both Pepe and Willock showed they should be given new free roles in the starting 11. Pepe is not a line hugger – he’s a more central or just off centre player.

    After manoeuvring your agenda in your last previous post you did exactly as I expected with this post with the rallying the troops positioned agenda post.

    Wily fox that you are.

  30. Graham62

    There is very little that came out of last nights game that should give us hope for the weekend.

    Nelson, Willock and Pepe did well and although Nketiah has his slaters on here, I still think he can offer us something different.

    Arteta’s tactics remain baffling, even against a team like Dundalk.

    Have a bad feeling about Sunday, unless Arteta is tactically brave.

  31. Northbanker

    What has happened to ESR? Last night was an ideal game for him to play. Is he still injured? Not mentioned on club website on the crock list

  32. Calypso

    If last night’s game was a knockout tie I would of watched it.
    Instead it was a meaningless stupid game where Dundalk was always going to finish bottom of the group.

  33. Emiratesstroller

    Arsenal are not a million miles away from being a decent side despite some indifferent form

    We are probably THREE quality players short in Starting Eleven of a good team. We need a
    first class Centre Forward, a quality Creative Central Midfielder and a Right Centre Back.

    The Right Centre Back position may not be critical in long term if Saliba turns out to be the
    player many believe him to be.

    However, until and unless Arsenal bring in a quality creative midfielder and a striker who is
    not just a “tap in merchant” we are not going to progress.

  34. Bojangles

    “It honestly seems to me we’re playing as bad a football as we did in emery’s last few matches”

    You have a short memory. Now we are boring to watch, Emery’s last 10 matches were dire. Most of us were watching from behind the couch.

  35. þorkell einarsson

    Balogun looks explosive and with a good work ethic , Reiss looked hungry and eager to impress
    needs confidence though.

  36. Ishola70


    “So you want Willock to be included instead of Xhaka on Sunday?But you also don’t want Willock to be included because he lacks experience in high end matches?Make up your mind….”

    I don’t want Willock to be included no. That was Valentin’s wish.

    Arteta has options that neither include Xhaka nor Willock as plenty of posters here have highlighted with their prefered starting XI

  37. Pierre

    “The major concern for me is that Nketiah looked distinctly average even at this level. The idea that Arteta considers him even remotely First Team standard is worrying.”

    I wouldn’t be majorly concerned about a 21 year old who has scored 9 goals in 9 starts in all competitions this season

    Last night Dundalk played with 3 centre backs who basically didn’t move from the edge of their own area.

    We played with one striker ( Nketiah ) and despite the attention of 3 defenders , still managed to find space in the box and scored a very alert, brave goal that only he in the Arsenal team can score.

    For Arsenal he has scored 3 goals in 5 starts.
    Aubamayang has scored 2 goals in 6 starts
    Lacazette 3 goals in 6 starts .

    Only an Arsenal fan would be majorly concerned about a 21 year old who has just broken the England under 21 goalscoring record and is still managing to score at a faster rate for his club than the 2 recognised strikers who cost 110 million between them…

    Let’s wait and see how he progresses in a team that actually creates chances for the strikers , something that is recognised by most observers as a major problem …Nketiah is feeding on scraps..
    He has shown that he will score goals in abundance for England when he is given the service.

    Balogan came on and experienced the same problems as Nketiah, a loan striker against 3 big defenders and made no impact and in the 20 minutes on the pitch didn’t have a sniff at goal.

    Balogan looks to be explosive , we need to keep him, Nketiah and Balogan are our future…Arteta needs to give Balogan some game time instead of persisting with Lacazette up top .

    Balogan is faster, stronger and more explosive…play him.

  38. Habesha Gooner

    That sky report was definitley spot on. For a guy that came from a team which is used to breakdown teams, Arteta has looked unconvincing in attacking football so far. 6 shots on target on a pub team isnt great. on another night we might not have taken our chances.

    Arteta looks more mourinho than guardiola right now. We are tight in defense but look clueless in attack. We needed a creative midfielder this summer but that player wouldnt have solved all our creative problems. Arteta needs to find a solution to fix it.

  39. Graham62


    3/11 = 27.27% of our team.

    Add a quality GK to your list and that makes it 4/11

    That means we’re 36.36% from being a decent side.

    I feel slightly depressed.

  40. Pierre

    Superb piece of skill by Pepe for his goal, but on the whole his performance was average.
    What’s happened to the Pepè that could skin defenders with a drop of the shoulder or speed of foot.

  41. Leftfootcurler

    The Pepe goal is why he is a WC talent and the rest of his performance is why he isn’t a WC player.

    When Nelson cut inside on the left,Pepe should have been making runs in behind.

    He didn’t take on as many as he would normally do,but that’s probably due to lack of confidence.
    He hasn’t been playing regularly under Arteta, after all.

    Yesterday’s game is a good illustration of what I was saying about lacking players in the pockets and Arsenal being hampered by not replacing likes of Ozil, Ramsey,iwobi, mkhi

    Willock played like Ramsey connecting the midfield with attack,with his runs into the final third,that we have lacked.

    Nelson played like iwobi, offering ball carrying,ball retention, helping us keep the ball in the final third.

    Neither Willock nor Nelson are good enough to start week in week out at arsenal yet


    You could get a glimpse of what Arteta’s team would look like with a few signings.

    Same system,as usual but gets 25 shots and 3.0 xG.

    We still lacked another runner into the box who would consistently make runs in behind besides Nketiah.

    Willock made runs from time to time but we need another player in the front 3 to do the same.

    Then the team would be really good.

  42. Graham62


    Good morning.

    As the weeks have progressed this season and the games have come and gone, my perceptions of Arteta have changed.

    Why is that Graham62?

    Well, basically, if you’re going to rely on players of the calibre of GX/ Elneny/ Mustafi/Leno to lead us forward, then your powers of judgement have to be seriously flawed.

    On top of that, if your perceptions of the game do not include letting the free spirits in the team to express themselves occasionally, you’ve got a great deal to answer for imo.

    I admire your loyalty to the cause but even you’ve got to admit that there are visible signs of a distinct lack of sauce.

    Pretty obvious I would say.

  43. Emiratesstroller


    I am sorry but I don’t see Nketiah as a top level striker even factoring in his age. Just because
    he scores goals for England U21 or against opposition like Dundalk does not impress me about
    his potential. He reminds me of Jeffers.


    I did not include goalkeeper position, because it is unlikely that Arsenal will go out and buy
    a new first string gk in foreseeable future now that they have offloaded Martinez and kept

    More likely is that they will look for a second string as replacement for Martinez. I am not
    convinced about Runarsson although his kicking is certainly an upgrade on Leno.

  44. Leftfootcurler


    Nketiah is a goal poacher like Auba.

    Arteta has been asking him to play like Harry Kane.

    Let’s not judge a fish by its ability to climb the tree.

    Nketiah’s body is not strong enough for the PL yet but he will score 10-15 goals in the league consistently in a few years.

    He just has great goal scoring instincts.

  45. Graham62

    We have players with sauce, but if you don’t let them “flow” you’re going to suffer the consequences.

    Imagine going to OT on Sunday with a front three of Saka/ Auba(up top)/Pepe

    Put Ceballos in the middle of the park. Bobs your uncle.

    United would be concerned.

  46. Graham62

    In respect to Runarsson, who had nothing to do, how tall is he?

    He looks very small.

    Do players shrink when they come to Arsenal?

  47. Radio Raheem

    Has Mari had an injury setback? Looks very smart giving him a 4 year deal whilst injured.

    Nice goal by Pepe yesterday hope he gains confidence from that.

  48. Radio Raheem

    From the little I saw of Balogun yesterday I think there’s more in to his overall game than Nketiah. I’d like to see how he develops in the next couple of years.

  49. Jamie

    Yeah, Balogun was constantly calling for the ball and making runs into the 6 yard box. Shame he didn’t get many touches.

    I’d love to see him get more minutes.

  50. Leftfootcurler

    About United game,

    I don’t give a crap about history because the teams that lost and drew at Old Trafford is not the same,the manager is not the same as for Sunday’s game.

    My worry is with Mike Dean and United’s tendency to get penalties.

    I have said on here before Partey is not going to improve the points tally much because we lack quality BTL.

    But that his ability will shine through in big games.
    Well it’s his first real big game.

    Hope he does well.

    It will be tough for him, United have Fred-Mctominay-Bruno in midfield.

    United are not going to go close to winning the league but they should be one of the biggest contenders for CL with that midfield.

    They just win every 50/50 challenges,2nd balls etc.
    It’s why they have a great record against top 6 last season.

  51. raptora

    LFC: “But You could get a glimpse of what Arteta’s team would look like with a few signings.”

    Yeah, even vs a pub team we didn’t look good. Maybe Messi and de Bruyne could help us a bit look not have 1 and a half chances per game. Imagine being 18th in the league on shots per game and crying for players. Dude, there is 17 teams who shoot more than us. I guess they have this player between the lines then???…………………

  52. TR7

    Said it beforehand people would make a song and dance about Pepe’s goal. The guy scores a good goal against a pub team and here we go again.