Dust yourself down people, it’s time to wipe those tears away, and put on your big boy Gunnersaurus trousers.
The weekend was a nightmare for the project. We had a pretty average first half of football against a team that has been beating teams this season. Then everything went wrong again. Our 32-year-old signing felt something after a long haul flight and a party with Salt Bae. Our most expensive signing ever landed a red card for a very dim explosion of temper. We didn’t get to see if the half time chat could have an impact.
Still, we live to fight another day and another day comes a lot faster this week.
We play Molde. Word on the street is Mikel Arteta is going to put Pepe straight back in the side to make amends for his shitty performance and behaviour. The player apologised yesterday and the manager is clearly looking to bury this issue before it gets out of control.
A lot of fans were quick to point out that this incident was the same as Maupay and Matteo. Well, things moved a lot faster in the right direction. The player said sorry to the fans and he certainly doesn’t have any of the backstory issues the Hertha player has.
The shame of the Leeds game is we did address the setup and formation like every fan said they wanted. Obviously, a change like that wasn’t going to be an instant hit, and trying anything out against a brutal Leeds side was always going to be challenging.
Now Arteta has to do it again vs Molde. We need to see central strikers playing through the middle and it’d be ideal to see someone like ESR given some game time so we can see what he’s all about. I mean, at this point, I’d love to see more of the next-gen talent on the pitch. If Balo is staying, start him. If one of the kids can play a forward pass, let’s see them. We should be using Molde to find out if anyone is willing or able to make the jump.
We also just need a fucking palette cleanser out here… a mint sorbet of a game if you will.
Wolves were held to a draw against Southampton last night, but they had 20 attempts at their goal. Make no mistake, this will be a tough game and I suspect they’ll not play a deep block again. We need a win though, we really do.
The good news for the weekend is we’ll hopefully be forced into some positive changes. Thomas Partey returns to our midfield. He’s a dream player and the perfect antidote to 90 minutes of Xhaka. We’ll also start Saka at the weekend if he’s fit. He’s a dream of a player, he looks confident, and I hope he’s given the wide left role. I’m not really sure what we’ll do on the right, but I hope it’s not Willian again.
There were a lot of things wrong with the Leeds game, but I can’t help but be most pissed at Granit Xhaka slobbering over Alioski after the game and protecting him from Tierney. This guy was our captain, can you imagine Paddy doing that? Adams? Embarrassing. It shows how far this so-called high-performance culture has to go.
I wrote a piece back when we had that bad result against Aston Villa last season. My take was that you can’t train character and that it’d be a mistake for Arteta to invest too much hope in players that have let the club down consistently over the past 5 years. He’s now learning this lesson the hard way after thinking he could change ingrained behaviour. The summer transfer window was dominated by indecision from the whole of Europe. Players wouldn’t leave big contracts and small clubs weren’t interested in spending money. That meant we kept a bunch of players perhaps we shouldn’t have. Now the vaccine is on its way, those issues will resolve, we need to take a fucking sledgehammer to the wasters in this squad because no amount of coaching is going to save players that thrive in the comfort zone.
Arteta’s biggest mistake has been to trust the senior players in this squad. He needs to learn fast and let a younger generation of players guide the future. We hired a generational coach to coach, not try his hand at ‘one last job for the boys’ approach at winning the Champions League.
The soul searching will continue this week, let’s hope there’s a reaction coming because it is shocking that we’ve not seen a blowout performance and it’s November. We are not one player away from anything. There aren’t even hints at a better way forward. The pressing has stopped, we don’t know how to attack, and everyone is playing like a bum. That’s on Arteta and his coaching staff. Things need to improve. Let’s see what he has up his sleeve.