Sorry, I missed a post yesterday because I’ve been sucked into the International Break Boretex.
Let’s start with Auba. Toni faaacking Kroos having a pop about his celebration masks? How dare he. What a joyless curmudgeon. I hope he apologises. Bagging on a fellow pro like that isn’t cool, especially as the celebration is for his kids.
Onto more pressing matters…
It’s been an absolute pleasure reading through all the comments telling me I’m a double melt on toast because of Arteta. I find the noise quite incredible if I’m honest. We’ve had rough start to the season… but, I have a stat for you… we are 6 points off first in November. You would think the season is over judging by some of the hit pieces out.
I’ve seen ‘ARTETA LOST THE PLOT ON X DATE’, I’ve seen people listing out new managers they like, and I’ve seen the reemergence of the Emeryrista crying about how badly he was treated.
People, form is temporary. Just because we’ve had a rough run of games, it doesn’t mean that is our season forever. Just because we’re not creating now, it doesn’t mean that is our lot this year. This is football my friends and everything can be fixed if you have good energy, elite thinking, and a bit of patience.
Who remembers 1997-98? We lost 4 games in 6 in November/December. We were out of the title race. Then the team had a legendary meeting where the senior players laid down the law. Then we went on a magical run and won the league. However, it wasn’t easy, we were 12 points off United in FEBRUARY. Can you imagine the bet-wetters on Twitter back then?
‘Arsene WHO? Should go back in for Bobby Robson’
‘F*CK OFF BACK TO GRAMPUS-SH*8’
‘THIS CRUYFF LITE STUFF WON’T EVER WORK HERE’
‘BRUCE RIOCH TOOK US TO 5TH I MISS HIM’
‘Can you beleive we sold John Hartson? Anelka is a wasteman’
Arteta has big problems, no doubt, but he’s had them all year. The crux of his issues for me centre on one fatal flaw of his early tenure: too much trust in senior players.
Willian looks like a bad investment. Arteta thought he was signing a 32-year-old who’d give him 3 years at the top. So far, it looks like we’ve made another fatal error and brought in someone on a Kia retirement deal. That can change though and I hope it will.
Lacazette was kept at Arsenal despite a sizeable offer from Roma in the summer. That, without doubt, has been the biggest mistake of Arteta’s Arsenal career so far. Someone was actually willing to pick up his huge salary and pay a fee, and we passed, presumably because we didn’t think reinvesting that in someone like Daka or Edouard was smart. BIG error. Even bigger that we put him through the middle. If you have Auba picking up his chances, we’re not 6 points from top, we’re maybe 3. That mistake needs to be rectified.
Also, Granit Xhaka. He was the go-to, but now, it seems like that error has probably been sorted long term.
Mikel needs to move things forward. He needs to position Auba where he’ll land chances. He needs to make sure his wide players are picking up the ball quickly and in areas where they can run at teams. He needs to explore what it is the play through the middle.
We need to be a provocative team. That requires confidence, the right players, and a new attitude going into the next three games.
Beat Wolves, Leeds and Spurs and we’re popping out the Birra Morretti’s and Paprika Pringles.
Arseblog nailed it yesterday in his piece about the moment and how fans deal with not knowing everything. I am game to speculate, always, but doubling down on every decision with things like NONSENSICAL or BAFFLING when you have most of the information is a bit dramatic and weird. Even if you don’t have all the information, trust that the decision was made in good faith, especially if there’s no evidence to suggest there’s something nefarious going on.
Mesut Ozil was his teammate, if he’s out the squad, it’s for the best. You don’t pick players based on Youtube videos. If we sold Emi, it was based on evidence in training and a small sample size. I didn’t like it, but the decision was made for the right reasons. If Pepe isn’t getting a run, there’s a thought behind it, have we learned nothing after we bullied Emery into showing us why managers should make decisions, not fans (that is me taking the blame here)?
Take Saliba as an example. Arsenal fans are spitting feathers that a 19-year-old isn’t in the squad. The manager in so many words has said his body isn’t ready, he’s not mentally available after the death of his mother (Kike Marin says he has now lost both parents), and he doesn’t speak English.
Arsenal fans won’t have it. @GiantGooner on Twitter laid out the reality with teenage centre backs. Before Fofana, only one teenage centre back had managed more than 300 minutes of Premier League football in 4 seasons. In Ligue One, 9 U20 centre backs managed over 600 minutes. Why? Because the league is less competitive. That’s why they grow more players, because it’s easier to land minutes younger. Is it fair to criticise that we didn’t find him a club? Yes. That seems like a pretty bad miss. Saliba started preseason early. It’s very odd that we didn’t do a deal and a bit sloppy.
Back to the player.
Arteta is protecting Saliba, not punishing him. Arsenal think there’s a future, which is why we didn’t sell him to Milan (another slow league). He’ll play in our first team. But butchering him during his formative years isn’t what he needs right now. A totally sensible decision flayed in the Twitter Townsquare.
Most decisions Arteta makes have a logical thought behind them. This isn’t Emery playing Torreira at #10 here. He plays his more experienced players because he assumes that experience equates to ‘better’ in decisive moments in a fine margins setup. Guess what, Jose does EXACTLY the same things and he’s won a lot of trophies doing it that way. Arteta plays Auba out wide because he isn’t great holding the ball up. He picks Rob Holding over Saliba because one is 24 and has won 2 FA Cups, the other has barely 17 appearances in a slow league. He doesn’t play Pepe because he’s been shite.
Everyone seems to have the answers. Even for replacement managers. Allegri is my absolute fave. Some Arsenal fans think a defensive-minded manager is going to come to this club and unlock elite attacking football with these same players. A coach that has been at Milan and Juve. Someone that would cost £15m a year . A manager deemed too arrogant. A guy who would want £150m to spend. A manager NO club has been near.
We do not have the money for any of those agenda items. We cannot afford Poch, we cannot afford Nagelsmann, and we don’t have the players for any of them.
A few weeks ago everyone was calling Frank Lampard a fraud because he has struggled to organise a defence, now he’s kept 5 clean sheets in 6 with 5 victories in a row and no one is calling him a wide boy amateur. Where has his £250m landed him in the league? 2 points ahead of Arsenal.
Keeping the faith is all we have.
Arteta is here for the longterm. He won an FA Cup in his first season. He has gone a long way to fixing our defence. He’s made some pretty decent signings. He broke our 6 year away record against top 6 sides. He has made us competitive against ALL top sides. He won the Community Shield. He is SIX points off top in November.
The season is long my friends. We’ll have moments that aren’t ideal. There will be bumps in the road, but we’ll make it back to the top.
David Ornstein says the summer planning process is underway. The dross we have accrued over the last 10 years will finally exit the club and we should have a BIG fucking party when it happens. We’ll sell players that have let us down because Arteta will learn his lesson this season. The market will also open up because fans will be back next season. Aouar. Dom Szoboszlai. Our young players will get better and better, we might even meet some new one’s (Möller, please be good). Gabriel will come back and give us a new flavour. Players out of form will find it. The process will power to the next phase: balance.
Form is temporary my friends, so now let’s see if we can find that Arsenal class we know is permanent.