The day after the game, I’m still seething.
Mostly, because it’s disappointing to watch Mikel Arteta shooting himself in the foot with his decisions.
Yesterday, was another prime example.
The narrative of the loss would have been ‘unfair result, bad reffing (again), unforced errors we can rectify, and a final pass away from being something really interesting.’
Instead, everyone is once again talking about how bad the decisions were this summer, and how much worse it is that Arteta can’t shake the truth about Willian >> he’s awful and should be annexed like Ozil unless his form picks up drastically.
He called it correctly after the game, top teams don’t make the mistakes Arsenal do. Teams at the top don’t breeze past 5 red cards. They don’t give away goals in the first minute as often as we do. I can take that little insight… what I think we all struggle with is a manager that has such clarity of vision for what’s not there, yet has had such an incredible blind spot for the things that are causing those problems.
David Luiz is a good defender, but he always has those mistakes in his locker, that’s why he’s not with Chelsea. We gave him a new deal and we give him lots of minutes despite his history with us being very, very, spotty.
Willian has contributed absolutely nothing to Arsenal this season. When you are chasing a game like yesterday, with the wind fully in your sales, against a team of athletes, what is the logic behind bringing on a player that has no pace, little ability to move around players, with the body language of someone that’s been asked to join a pub team as a ringer when they’re walking the dog over Hackney Marshes.
Why didn’t we bring Martinelli on? What top manager in world football would look at that bench yesterday and think the cherry on the comeback cake was Willian?
We’ve lost more games than we’ve won this season. No doubt it’s a weird season. Many problems have been had. But these self-inflicted should have been left as 2020 problems we solved. They are ego-driven decisions. He is absolutely desperate for Willian to come on and score a screamer so the move can be justified… I get it… managers don’t want to look like they have bad taste. But Jose Mourinho, in the state he’s in with Spurs, isn’t still trying to flog Gareth Bale. He’s accepted he’s not at the level and that’s that.
Politically, his instinct is always to give Willian minutes because he fought so hard to bring him to the club on a disgusting contract from a disgusting super agent that had been advising us badly since he was let back in.
Politically, he has to use Auba, a player the fans love, but one that seems less and less suited to the project the further we go on.
It’s time to stop thinking about the politics of being a manager. He needs to pick the best players for the project, because if he keeps going for his 30+ favourites, he won’t have a job past December next season.
Nicolas Pepe still has a lot of flaws in his game. His control is sloppy, his decisions are still very messy, but he’s been very good over the batch of games. He wants to be there, and at a base level, he has the athletic profile to be in the squad.
Granit Xhaka has many flaws, but next to Thomas Partey, he’s generally been good for the squad.
Our attack is electric when you have the young players out in force, melded together by the excellent Lacazette.
The season finished yesterday, now we need to go full force at what our options look like next season. Who else is waiting in the U23s that we can give a go in the squad? How can we make sure Martinelli is trustworthy in all the games over the next 3 months? How can we ensure Odegaard feels sexy about the plan going forward so he’ll join for the whole of next season? Is Flo Balogun better than Eddie and can he viable as a powerful #9 we lack? Azeez? Patino? Cottrell? Moller? Our season is in the gutter, but the project isn’t.
There’s something exciting brewing in this squad. We’re a final pass away from decimating a team. A bit more confidence and a bit more force, we’ll be very problematic for anyone we face. It’s fragile though… if you take out key players and replace them with people in their thirties that don’t have what it takes, it’ll all collapse. Yesterday, the introduction of Willian, combined with the nothingness of Auba, completely killed any hope of saving a game we were more than in.
If Arteta refuses to see that, he’s going to run into these same problems next year.
This week has been rough. Win those two games, as we should have, we’d be sitting in 6th place. The opportunity has been taken by the officiating gods, unforced errors, and some pre-December managerial decisions that shouldn’t have been.
Arteta’s coaching staff needs to gather their thoughts and go again, this is the last long pre-season they’ll get, because if we’re this badly out of the mixer February 2022, it’ll be team #Nagelsmann or #MarcoRose on this blog, because the club will have moved on Mikel.
There are standards at Arsenal. They have dropped for an experiment with a young coach with a high ceiling. He has to start showing high ceiling decision making based on merit, not politics.
I’ll be back later with a podcast.