It’s hard to know where the bottom is for this squad of players. It’s tough to fathom whether the manager can arrest the decline. You wonder if the exec team has the knowledge to intervene and support. We’ve not seen a run this bad since the 80s. We’re rudderless top to bottom. The process is fucked. We are back to being a banter club.
Arteta is in big trouble. This is going the way of David Moyes at Manchester United. Listening to him insist 44 crosses to nobody was some sort of success for the future was painful listening. If you don’t have a striker like Robin, Ade, or Giroud, why would an entire coaching staff go out of their way to ramp up crosses per game by 11.3 since November (James Benge stat)? Last time we came close to yesterday’s number of crosses we at least had Danny Welbeck to aim for (Leicester 2016).
Steve Round said in one of his Youtube videos that in the end, not winning enough games cost him the United gig. Now we’re following that regime’s legendary path to the bottom… literally.
Cross numbers were the least of our problems yesterday.
Arteta is stubborn. He is trying to will a flawed plan into points. Everyone looked at that starting 11 and worried we lacked legs and character. We gave Willian another game to bomb. We started Granit Xhaka despite his terrible form, his lack of physicality, and the absolute nothingness he offers to the squad. We gave Auba another game. The guy is a disgrace. Arsenal.com shouldn’t have run that interview with him in the week where he looked like he was a hostage on day 57 after being asked to denounce his religion, family, and love for nice things. He is not behaving like a captain. Everyone at Arsenal knows this. If your charismatic leader can barely crack a smile, how are the rest of the squad meant to pick themselves up? Leadership is turning up when things are hard, he’s not doing that right now.
The Thomas Partey decision delighted us. He was really solid for the minutes he played. Then something popped, he rolled off the pitch as a counter-attack started, and Arteta tried to shove him back on. It reminded me of that time Denilson dropped to the floor against United and didn’t smother the ball… except Wenger didn’t run on the pitch to pick the player up and kick him towards goal. If Partey has the same injury, we’re deeply fucked. It’ll take longer, there might be all sorts of complications. We’d have just killed our escape plan. We took a risk on our best player and broke him in the busiest month. Unbelievable banter. The worst of short term decisions. We were always a long shot to beat Spurs away. Now we’re a longshot to beat Burnley next week.
That starting 11 showed that Arteta is not learning his lessons. He saw what athleticism offered to the starting 11 in the week and he ignored it. He continues to opt for senior players that can’t play his system. His system might be fucking magnificent in his head or at City, but if the expensive experienced players he has can’t play it, it’s total shit. We thought we were hiring in a manager that could rearrange a motley squad of players to be better than the sum of its parts… it now looks like we’ve hired someone that is wedded to something he can’t do. At least when we shithoused we were competitive.
Arsenal won’t change the manager. The players will go long before he does, but that might be predicated on Arsenal not being in the relegation zone come the end of the month. We are shite. Our players have a long history of pundits bemoaning their meekness. But Mikel doubled down on them, no one asked him to. He gave out the deals, he extended the stay of execution for about 8 players, and he insisted that the things they do at training was the stuff of top 4 teams. Things went to shit in the first 10 games and he excused it by saying he needed 6 players to get back to the top. GREAT, we needed that actioned in the summer, not now.
Hector Bellerin was leaving. He was convinced by the project. We thought he had changed. Yesterday, he dropped his 6th foul throw of the season. HE IS A PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALLER AND HE FOUL THROWS. Let that sink in.
The opening 3 minutes of the game was beyond parody. Lacazette was so slow from kickoff he was clattered as he passed the ball out for a throw. Granit Xhaka’s first instinct when Harry Kane burned him for pace was to rugby tackle. Hector gave possession away from a throw. 3 of our most experienced players dropping amateur moments like that, how can you progress with players doing things like this?
It might start with retiring the season and playing the system with players that can do it, even if it’s not at the ‘technical’ level Arteta wants. At the moment, the principles we set out with look like they’re being soiled every week by senior players that don’t give a fuck. How can Mikel be so ruthless jettisoning the ‘bad’ players to the far reaches of nowhere (right decision), but so accommodating for the absolute bums he rolls out every week?
Here’s an idea he should have adopted this summer. Play the young players instead. Just like Frank Lampard did at Chelsea. The guys that are attached to the club. The guys that want careers beyond current contracts. The kids that have ceilings. If we’d written off this season and binned the idea of yet more short-term fixes, the fans wouldn’t be as angry as they are right now. He promised Willian a Champions League final in 3 years. He can’t even get an accurate cross from the Brazilian.
Can anyone honestly tell me AMN, Reiss, and Eddie could have put in a drossier performance than what we saw against Spurs? I suspect Möller might have been better suited to a system built for Giroud like target practice and he’s never played a first-team game. Would he have bottled challenges? Would he have cowered aerial balls? Would he have been so half-arsed?
Leeds United cause everyone problems because they have a system built to accommodate subpar players. Worse players than we have. Jurgen Klopp said a good gegenpress is better than a number 10. Time to get real, the current players can’t play City football. ‘What can they do?’ is a must-find answer.
That answer should be geared around power, pace, and one-touch passing. We need to get back to the aggressive pressing, it’s shocking that Arteta let it slide like Wenger used to. We need to have actual athletes in the middle of the park. We need to find a modern take on creativity because we’re not getting it with the players we have right now and lobbing the ball into the box will not work without big players who love to rough it with slaggy defenders. If there is a vision of what the football could be, let’s play it, even if it’s only at 80%… because at least we could see where this process could take us.
Cedric has a final ball and he’s fast, I doubt he makes foul throws. Why did we sign him for four years if he can’t play?
AMN marked Mahrez and Traore out of two games. He moves the ball fast, he’s aggressive, he has some flair in his passing. Give him games. Hold him accountable. Make him better.
Reiss Nelson can move. He is fucking rapid. His career depends on making it at Arsenal. Give him minutes because he cannot be worse for the system than a player who complained he didn’t really understand what Arteta wants from him after taking a £250k a week deal.
Would ESR offer as little movement between the lines as Lacazette. Would he give you 4 pass attempts into the penalty box as a #10? Alex was one of our better players and he didn’t do much bar run around with some aggression. There was a moment in the first half when Thomas Partey broke the lines and none of our forwards gave him the movement he needed. Painful viewing.
Auba is droppable. Willian is droppable. Xhaka should be left off the January squad list. If you are not doing it, you should not play.
I know fans think they know best. We mostly don’t. But we do know that a chunk of our players will always let Arsenal down because we’ve been watching the patterns for years. I have said it time and time again, I’d rather watch kids fail who can get better, than watch older players stink out the place because they don’t care.
Arteta was hired as a rookie. We were told to take a chance on his coaching and promise. He should take a chance on players that want to be there. Kicking on with the seniors that have a history of mentally collapsing at every opportunity is unacceptable leadership regardless of how old you are.
Give the Hale-Enders a go. They have a culture, a shared belief, and drive. The understandable mistake Arteta made was being conned by bums, the unforgivable one is continuing with them despite their utter tripe performances.
Ainsley had it right. Get some legs in the setup. Get ‘a little bit of dynamics’ going. Find a way, because that’s the job. The stubborn approach is not yielding results. Big names are taking the piss. It’s time to get a grip. It’s time for shock and awe. It’s time to resuscitate the season because it is about to need an ICU bed, the nurse is revving up the ventilator and we all know that means it’s 50/50 prognosis in the worst of ways.
There are plenty of managers that have turned dire situations around, but most of them have admitted mistakes and made changes. We need that and we need it fast. Arteta looks like he’s unraveling and that’s not good for anyone. Let’s hope the soul searching this week is a little deeper than ‘just do the same thing.’
Listen to our podcast from Friday. It’s evergreen. Most of it holds true today.