Arteta looks to kickstart phase 2 of the process.

by .

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this weekend is a HUGE moment for the Arsenal project this season. Win, and we’ve taken down a strong United side in a low moment for Arsenal. Lose, and everyone will throw a shit fit on the internet and life will be sad for a while.

So far this season, the fine margins approach of this new Arsenal squad has not worked well for us. We should have done better against Liverpool, we should have taken points at City, and we really shouldn’t have been beaten by Leicester last weekend.

The new challenge we have is teams have now learned that coming at us like we’re a banter club is not a thing. You can’t bully and press us high up the pitch because we have a couple of deadly moves in the locker that allow us to move the ball up the pitch and kill. We have been sussed.

The common consensus at the start of the season was that we’d struggle against low blocks against the small teams… well, now even the better teams are playing that game. Leicester low-blocking was not expected. Arteta calls this a sign of respect.

It’s a lot of things that we’ve improved on in my opinion and we have all the stats to do that. Our thinking after Leicester, the reason why they did what they did in their game plan, to sit so low against us when they are not normally a team that do that – they’ve been really dominant and play really attractive football – I came to the conclusion that we have the respect from other teams for them to do that. Now we have to try to change our strategy a little bit and try to train against more certain blocks that I think are going to happen a bit more often. We have made teams think, ‘If we do that, we’ll be in trouble so we have to try to do something else’. We’re going to work on that and the moment we improve that, we’ll become even better.

I’d agree that it is a sign we need to develop the thinking and be a bit less predictable. The good thing is he’s acknowledging these issues. What we see with our eyes… he’s seeing, and he’s trying to coach us to a better approach.

Easier said than done. Our squad hasn’t developed at the pace we needed this summer. We made ourselves very solid, but we still lack a bit of magic. We need someone that can do the things that Mesut can do, but sadly, that doesn’t exist. That means we have to get more creative with what we have. The game in the week showed some options that might exist. Would Reiss Nelson offer a more direct option on the right? Would Joe Willock be able to function in a midfield that had the support of someone like Thomas Partey? Can Willian or Saka step up?

Arteta thinks we have enough options, but the players need to show up.

That structure is just to limit our opponents to certain things when we lose the ball. The other structure can flow. We have so many different patterns to try to attack these situations, depending on the formation that they play, and the value of spaces. That will be in different things. It’s more about our aggression, when we have the ball, our purpose, our aggression, our runs in behind. When do players take someone on and think, ‘I have to make something happen’? We want them to think about themselves, not him or him, we want them to take accountability. They need to want to put the ball in the box more often, because this is what top teams do. If the other team want to defend the box, make sure they’re defending the box all the team, and that we’re being very aggressive in the final third. It’s something we haven’t faced so much since I arrived here, but I think it’ll happen more and more.

I do think there’s been an element of passing the buck when it comes to making things happen. That might be because the system has been too rigid, or players might think that Auba can score the goals. Hopefully, this is a game where we see a different mindset. There has to be more purpose to how we attack, doing it against Dundalk is one thing, United? Hmm…

We’ll see how the basics of what we saw against Dundalk translate into the United game. We cannot avoid the middle of the pitch. We cannot assume Xhaka is the only player that can move the ball forward. We cannot expect to win the United game without taking some calculated risks.

That said, I suspect the cagey approach we thought might be the recipe of the day… might have changed after the midweek decimation OGS handed out to Nagelsmann. United don’t like to sit back and I’m not sure they’ll do that this weekend… but we’ll see.

News leaked yesterday that Huss is out the door at Arsenal. Ivan G set out with a dream, the dealmaker at Barca, the Diamond Eyes guy at Dortmund, and the contracts person at Sky Racing. Well, that entire vision collapsed inside 3 years. I actually think it mostly collapsed because Ivan left and created a power vacuum. He botched the succession plan by assuming that dual leadership could work and that someone like Raul, chancer in chief, could be trusted to run things to the betterment of Arsenal. Well, it was a mess, but it’s being cleaned up.

Huss was supposed to come in and sort out the way we did deals. I’m not sure he can walk away having achieved much. Our wage bill is a mess, we’ve lost players on free transfers, and we have a collection of duds on deals so sweet, they won’t leave. I suspect his exit is quite tightly tied to Raul’s. He was the bag man for the bag man. If he was there overseeing the deals Raul was throwing his way, then it’s pretty clear why he’s out. He’s been given the quiet exit route out… very American. Sam Dean reckons we’ll bring in a lower level Head of Football Operations. We certainly need some expertise going back into the club. The jury is still out on some high profile staff and everyone knows it there, I hope we don’t continue the trend of letting average talent make huge decisions that sets us back years.

Finally… I did a podcast ON VIDEO, with the guys at Elite Football Show. I spoke with Haider and Ciaran about United and Arsenal. It’s a good listen, especially the parallels they draw between the United project and the Arsenal one. I also think it’s interesting to listen to other fans talking about what we’re doing… because generally, they are a bit more positive.

The podcast can be found on iTunes and Spotify… but be daring for once in your life, click the video… listen AND watch. ENJOY. x

642 Responses to “Arteta looks to kickstart phase 2 of the process.”

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  1. Kaz


    Auba up top kept pulling defences with his runs, Willian and Pepe were playing together and interchanging positions were playing fluid and causing havoc.

    El Neny had a better game and more impact against Sheffield than Cebellos did.

  2. Ishola70

    “And unlike Cebellos, Xhaka can hit a pass.”

    Ceballos could play sideways and backward passes of a certain length like Xhaka if asked. But many times he is passing in more advanced positions than Xhaka.

    Of course Xhaka has much better long pingers than Ceballos.

    So that’s what it’s all about is it? Occasional good long pingers? Note the word occasional.

  3. Champagne charlie

    Love Grealish, big miss with him unfortunately. Not sure where I see his future after that contract extension, reeks of Zaha and getting held to a ransom nobody wants to pay. Would be a real shame. Would fit like a glove at City.

    No Emi and Leno chat today? Weird. As G8 says, the super calming presence must’ve just been for the 12 games he got at Arsenal. Been picking the ball out the net regularly the last fortnight.

  4. raptora

    Same as Arteta. Both tried, both failed. Both finished with 0 senior NT appearances.

    In Arteta’s case is at least kind of understandable since they had more or less the best generation of midfield players in the history of football.

    Still Santi Cazorla managed 81 apps and is at #16 in their history of most apps while Arteta managed 0. Pepe Reina managed 36 apps, Almunia 0. It’s a testament to their quality.

  5. Ishola70


    “El Neny had a better game and more impact against Sheffield than Cebellos did.”

    No he didn’t.

    There was much more responsibility on Ceballos to conduct that midfield in that Sheffield match and Ceballos being primarily first man on the ball in midfield testified to that.

  6. WengerEagle


    Santi was levels above Arteta.

    That first Santi season before we signed Ozil where he pretty much played as the 10 imo was the most impressive individual season of a player here barring RVP’s bonkers season in 11/12 and Cesc’s in 2009-10 since Henry’s in 2006.

  7. Rich


    We should look to sign Ceballos in January, Madrid are desperate for cash.

    Hopefully Hamburg and Atletico are interested in permanent deals for Torreira + Guendouzi, and we can get a permanent deal for Ceballos over the line.

    Otherwise we risk spending 2 seasons educating a player, only for another team to benefit from that education.

  8. Tom

    “I don’t understand why Ancelotti decided to drop Pickford but then assured him of his place next week.“

    Valentin, it’s a type of assurance he can easily go back from after great keeper’s performance

  9. Kaz


    Our goal came from El Neny, his passing was tidy and quick through out the match. Some encouragement to play passes forwards more from Arteta would benefit him and the team.

    Cebellos wasn’t primarily first man on the ball either. Was pretty equal between El Neny and him.

    Again game didn’t start going great until Auba went top and Willian and Pepe started interchanging. Very little to do with Cebellos.

  10. Gooner joe


    Ceballos made all of the best passes in the Sheffield match. Go back and watch the highlights or read the match reports. There’s no need to create a false Ceballos vs. Elneny discussion. One can like what the latter gives us without denigrating what the former gives us. Ceballos is a much better footballer and much better passer of the ball than you are giving him credit for, however.

  11. Leftfootcurler

    Ceballos is worse than xhaka.

    Biggest reason why Arteta went for the back 3 is because Ceballos is bypassed too easily.

    Can’t block space. The fa Cup Chelsea’s goal is a simple example.

    Gets into a no man’s land and a simple kovacic pass eliminates him.

    Underhits passes a lot. Just can’t pass with any sort of pace.

    Much bigger red flags than xhaka.

    It’s just xhaka’s struggles in an un organised shape under Wenger and Emery has created a strong impression on fans.

    Xhaka is much better passer overall, better at getting on the ball,better in duels, better at detecting danger, better at blocking space.

    Fans of course think Ceballos is better because he is better at manuevering the ball in tight spaces- which is not even an essential quality in midfield.

    I don’t mind xhaka being dropped but for Ceballos?
    Xhaka is much much better and it’s not even close.

  12. Marko

    No Emi and Leno chat today?

    Well you can expect some now if Leno concedes today. You know the deal if Leno concedes he’s dogshit and meanwhile Martinez concedes 7 in two games and there’s tumbleweeds

  13. Kaz

    Rich, there are much better players we should sign, I think it is a huge step in the wrong direction if we sign Cebellos permanently at the expense of others.

  14. Champagne charlie


    Was the only thing he had left to do for me mate (strut it at PL level). Safe to say he’s comfortable doing it. Such a good footballer to watch, and one you could actually argue in favour of the English player tax he’d have – would utterly transform our attack, I’m convinced of it.

  15. Ishola70


    “Our goal came from El Neny”

    Doesn’t matter where the last phase of play came from for the goal.

    I’m talking about overall midfield performance.

    Ceballos was majority first man on the ball in first phase deep and his direct running at opponents in that match in central midfield caused them disruption and saw them commiting players. Something we have been sorely missing with Xhaka keeping playing around the edges.

  16. Kaz

    Gooner Joe,

    I’ll check highlights again buuuut I want you to pay attention to Cebellos and how often he under hits it and how often he goes on a pointless little dribble to nowhere and keeps hold of the ball instead of looking up and releasing and passing with pace.


  17. Ishola70


    “Can’t block space.”

    Fuckin’ ell.

    How many times are you going to keep repeating this?

    How important an aspect in footballing terms is “blocking space” compared to other aspects?

    Are we talking about footballers here or cardboard cut outs?

  18. raptora

    Yeah, Santi was immense in his first season. If it wasn’t for his injuries and being in an unbalanced team, always 2 top players away of dominating the league, he was a title winning player. I agree he was the best playing in there, in attack. We had nobody to move the ball forward well so Wenger moved him in midfield and his influence dropped. So frustrating we were not close but we never managed to achieve something with a player of his level, similar to Cesc and RvP.

  19. Valentin


    Why make the promise at all?
    Tell him I am dropping you because your performance are poor and your head is not in the right place, we will review that in a few games.

  20. Champagne charlie

    Xhaka and Ceballos are two sides of the same coin for me, both better performers with the game in front of them.

    Xhaka is more physical, taller, powerful, much better tactically, and for my money is a level above at recycling the play. Ceballos is more technical, agile, energetic, and a level above at the cuteness/invention of his passing.

    Both are slow over medium distances plugging gaps, but Ceballos gets away with murder defensively because he doesn’t naturally see what’s going on and instead he’s all about engagements and nibbling at players; or intercepting which is living on the edge by its very nature. Xhaka doesn’t do as much of that because he’s better positioned and appreciates space more than Ceballos, but he’s slow AF from a standing start so can get utterly embarrassed if he switches off.

  21. Leftfootcurler


    Midfield play has 3 main aspects.

    1) passing
    2) win duels
    3) blocking space.

    Everything else is just a bonus.

    Those 3 things are the most important aspects of midfield play.

    I am entitled to repeat as many times as I wish.

    You are entitled to ignore my posts if you wish too

  22. Ishola70


    “The flaws Left just put down for Cebellos, I also share.”


    I’m sorry I can’t take seriously a post that rates one player over another because of a notion of “blocking space”?

    What the fuck does it even mean?

  23. Rich

    Richarlison is one of the best forwards in the league, he’s exactly the type of aggressive and dynamic player we lack in our forward line, he’s relentless.

    As much as I love Zaha, and think he was a real miss, I’d love to see Richarlison as our No9

    Everton don’t look the same without him, he bullies defenders.

  24. Leftfootcurler


    Positional sense
    Being in the right spaces .

    A team whether it presses high or defends deep,does so in a block.

    Good positioning is important to prevent the opposition from getting access to your penalty box.

  25. Champagne charlie

    If you defend well you shouldn’t need to engage in many tackles, you block channels, make the passer move the ball laterally to look for gaps.

    Pep’s teams often feature down the list for tackles made. Big foulers and turnover protectors, but super conscious of moving around as a unit and suffocating passing lanes. Arteta is a big believer in that methodology you can tell.

  26. Ishola70

    Of course positional sense is important.

    But you put it in some off key way by just stating “blocking space”

    Xhaka is such a problem physically that he keeps away from condensed areas. It’s not because he is more clever positionally than Ceballos in getting into these areas where he is going to be less challenged face to face by the opposition. It is an absolute necessity for him to get into these areas because of deficiencies.

  27. Nelson

    Setting up a structure is the most important step for a system The next step is to train the players for the structure. Arteta has come up with a defensive structure. He’ll need another CB to partner Gabriel.

    As for the midfield and offense, I am still waiting to see what Arteta can come up with.

  28. andy1886


    “Midfield play has 3 main aspects.1) passing
    2) win duels
    3) blocking space.”

    What about PV4?

    His greatest attribute was physical power driving the ball forward in midfield, he also had the knack of arriving around the box at the right time just like Aaron Ramsey.

    What we’re missing are those attributes. Passing isn’t everything.

  29. Pedro

    Interesting watching how aggressive we were against Dundalk with the tactical fouls… Mo was smashing people over at the first sniff of a counter.

    Different against United, but you’d imagine that was a practice run