by .

Once again, we’re here bemoaning dropped points in a game we should have killed off. We’re here wondering how Granit Xhaka can still be making errors in a system built to support his weakness. We are totally shocked how a refereeing decision can go against us, even with the support of a video analyst. We are pissed that we dropped needless points again.

Arsenal should have taken 3 points today. We should have buried Burnley after demoralising them in the first half. We didn’t. The big conversation point will be about Granit Xhaka. He controlled the ball in our penalty box after receiving it 8 yards from Leno’s line, he looked up, and played a pass to Chris Wood so perfect, the player barely needed to move to score. It was embarrassing, the 8th Xhaka error leading to a goal this season.

‘Unforced error’ has been the deadliest weapon in the oppositions attack for Arsenal since the Chelsea restart. We’re at the point now where it’s clear that the only way we alleviate the issue is to shift on the players that make them. Our main challenge is we don’t have the depth to do that at the moment, so it’ll be a next season thing.

The more concerning problem for me is the lack of goals. Before Christmas, we weren’t creating chances. Against Burnley, we had more big chances than shots on target. We hit the bar, the post, Pepe fluffed a stunning chance, whiffing the ball when a connection looked easier. It’s worrying how relaxed our players are in front of goal. I know Thomas Partey isn’t a striker, but a player of his quality should be keeping a shot on the edge of the box under the bar.

It’s also worth highlighting how bad our luck is with referees. Peters handled the ball in the box. By this seasons standards for handball, it was absolutely nailed on, but the VAR crew looked at it and took a hard pass on it. To make matters worse, the ref looked like he’d evened up things a little later when Pepe’s sublime volley was cleared by the same players shoulder. It wasn’t a penalty, the decision was correct… it’s just mad they spent that much time making sure they got the Burnley decision right, but not the easier decision for the earlier issue. At some point, someone at the top of the game has to make a decision, because the referees are still shit even with the best tools at their disposal.

When you combine fear in front of goal, with the mistake avengers, and you throw in bad luck… you’re always going to struggle.

… but, I will take positives from this game even if you hate it.

The system is working. It’s generating high quality chances, it’s largely limiting the opposition, the results will come. At this point, it’s clear that it’s a personnel problem and the backroom staff absolutely know this.

What fans won’t accept is this carrying on into next season. If Xhaka is the first name on the teamsheet in August, after all the data that supports an issue all the fans know, then you have to question Arteta. Our entire midfield needs a revamp. Ceballos isn’t the full ticket and we don’t have to buy him. Elneny is simply not good enough. Xhaka has great bits to his game, but the upside isn’t high enough to merit him continuing. He’s not young, he’ll never get better than this, errors are a feature of his game. That fact cannot continue to be ignored, and we have to see the correlation of him coming to Arsenal and our sharp decline as a force in English football.

There are lots of nice bits about the squad. We are controlling games now. Chances are coming from lots of places. There’s a lot of talent bubbling in the right areas. Plug the unforced errors this season and we’re 12 points higher in the table competing for top 4. Unforced errors like the Granit one today is a player thing. You can’t coach that level of dimness out of a player.

We really, really missed ESR out there today. It’s incredible how big his impact is on how we play. His off ball movement makes us harder to play against. His runs, his passing, his quick thinking… we missed it today.

The league is so done now. It’s all on Europa. It’s the only saving grace we have. Let’s see where to take it on Thursday.

Tune into the On-The-Whistle podcast with Johnny and Matt. It’s a good one. We debate the strengthening arguments for keeping Arteta and moving him on.


Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Gonsterous

    When is the generational one going to be shown the door? Gross negligence on his part.

    1. Didn’t coach bellerin to take a correct throw in though he kept making fouls.
    2. Not once getting in the ears of our wingers and instructing them to keep their crosses low, when was the last time our striker scored with their head?
    3. Sold the wrong keeper. Then bought a worse one, we had to replace in Jan.
    4. Halting the development of saliba, guen, martinelli, balogun, amn and many other youngsters.

    The list goes on…

  2. Shaun

    Villa currently have the fastest build up play from the back for a reason, an Martinez chose to leave when Arteta confirmed he had a 95% chance of starting and that to him was unacceptable given his form and the part he played in winning the fa cup and community shield …..massive mistake from the manager and by far his biggest .if you think about it now with the addition of the ESR tempo we would not be looking at this slow boring shite Arteta serves up and china1 I agree with you mate , I am not sure on what parallel universe you have to be on to make that goal not xhaka directly at fault and I could do with both xhaka and Leno gone to be honest .but then I am typing this from my hospital bed heavily sedated , but I have had a laugh .I am in north Middlesex hospital and two spuds are moaning to the staff about where they can watch the scum game so I pipe up and say I got sky ports on my IPad and walk over to them put the iPad down and press play on the arsenal Burnley game … if I could have filmed the reaction and the icing on the cake is I am in the acute stroke ward and one of the spuds turned blue lol……lol

  3. Sly

    Fulham are playing well

    Listened to your podcast Pedro
    Crisp analysis once again on how Pepe contributed to us not winning yesterday lol

  4. Valentin

    The responsibility of the goal were shared across all three:

    1) Leno had a clear view of situation which Xhaka did not have. See how Xhaka is unaware of the player on his right after he glanced over his left shoulder. Under those circumstances the safest thing to do is to chip the ball to Partey who is unmarked further up. Also I mentioned before Xhaka is left footed and Leno makes a pass to his weak foot knowing that he is under pressure. This is something that professional footballers ought to know not to do. Defenders never pass back to the weak foot of their goalkeeper. It was a risky and badly placed pass.

    2) Xhaka technique is mediocre and he has the mobility of a oil tanker. He takes a bad first touch and then tries to make a blind pass to David Luiz. Complete lack of awareness of his opponents position and poor technique results in a silly goal.

    3) Arteta insistence on ALWAYS building from the back meant that even when it is not on, players will follow his instructions instead of playing what’s in front of them. Also other coaches have noticed that pattern of play. If you observe the position of players who press us, you would spot that instead of pressing the CBs, they now position themselves to intercept the pass from the deeper midfielder. Xhaka just fell in their trap, but a few game ago Elneny was also very lucky not to concede such a goal.

  5. Dissenter

    Am I the only one who’s impressed with Scott Parker
    He’s drilled this Fulham team to a formidable bunch over the course of the season. They look so much better that when we beat them on the opening day.

  6. The Bard

    Xhaka is a symptom not the cause. We have been in decline for more than a decade and it will likely take a decade to rebuild. The media big up these minor dramas like some soap opera and it suits Silent Stan all the way to the bank. While we are screaming at Arteta and/or Xhaka Stan and his cohorts get a free pass.

  7. Sly

    I’m impressed with Scott too
    Also considering the resources he has available to him
    Looks like he’s gonna be a good un

  8. Sid

    3) Arteta insistence on ALWAYS building from the back meant that even when it is not on, players will follow his instructions instead of playing what’s in front of them. Also other coaches have noticed that pattern of play.

    Most of Diet Peps tactics are mediocre, have a short lifespan
    1. Xhakalson as left sided CB
    2. Auba on the left wing
    3. Luiz as the teams passmaster
    4. Laca as a #10
    5. Willian as a #9 (this one was the lowest of lows)
    The list is endless

  9. Freddie Ljungberg

    Xhaka himself doesn’t agree with the Leno obsessives. He’s already apologized for the goal and taken full responsibility.
    As he should the pointy swiss cunt.

    Pepe did have a pretty bad miss, but he was on for 20 minutes, missed a sitter, should have had a stone wall penalty and was an inch away from scoring that volley.

    Why did Willian start again? I mean he got the worlds easiest assist but apart from that what exactly did he do with his 70 minutes?

    As long as Arteta refuses to play our best team (apart from when rotation is necessary) we’re going nowhere.

    And no, Pepe and Martinelli doesn’t need the rest and should both 100% be ahead of Willian in the pecking order, doubt Cedric did either.

    Why haven’t we tried Partey + Ceballos in midfield? An inform Ceballos is much better than Xhaka both off and on the ball and it would free up Partey from baby sitting Xhaka all the time. He hasn’t looked that good this season but hasn’t really had a chance to play himself into form either, that privilege is reserved for a select few.

  10. Matt


    He’s hardly going to come out and publicly blame
    Leno is he and say he should have hoofed it?

    I agree with the other points though. I don’t think I can bring myself to watch too many more games that Willian is involved in.

  11. Anonymous Commentator

    I don’t care what xhaka has apologised for, Leno should be smarter than playing that ball short in that situation.
    Xhaka apologising just tells me that the club are making any attempt to placate the fans after this shit season, and it’s not rubbing with me.

  12. Freddie Ljungberg


    He’s hardly doing it out of the kindness of his heart either is he? Fucker isn’t exactly famous for being quick to apologize to the fans

    If the club/Arteta/the team had felt Leno was responsible you could bet your ass he would have been the one doing the social media grovelling.

    I don’t have a dog in the goal keeping fight but the Martinez fan club does go to some ridiculous lengths.

    Have to say after Martinez’s last interview I’m starting to dislike the guy. We didn’t deserve him? Because he had a decent 15 game run in 10 years? Big headed cunt.

  13. SWG

    Leno v Xhaka debate now.. Leno did put him under pressure, I agree. But the fault lies with Xhaka, he can either play the same ball as he did but with more power and height and put it out for a throw in.. or play it to Luiz like a through ball across the floor if you like and not play it goal side like he did, not trying to prime Pirlo it around Wood. He also could have dropped it back to Leno and shouted “Clear!”
    There’s no real debate here, keepers of teams building from the back play balls like that a few times a game, it’s unlucky we had Xhaka receiving it. It was just another Xhaka being Xhaka moment, simple as that

  14. Matt


    My view on the incident yesterday is not because I am a Martinez obsessive. I do think we sold the wrong keeper but I’ve moved on from it and am not watching every Villa game wondering what could have been.

    Take the personalities out of it and imagine it was any other keeper and any other midfielder receiving the ball, I still say the onus is on the keeper to clear it.

  15. Pedro

    Arsenal has the 5th best defence in the league in our worst ever season… reckon Leno might have something to do with that.

  16. I hate Green Bay

    Mari impresses with every game, he just quietly goes about his business. I would like to see him partner with Holding again because they seemed to have good chemistry prior to injury.

  17. La croqueta

    When this is all said and done. It’ll probably go down as ‘Banter era 2.0’ but the most surprising and Ironic outcome of this New ‘Banter era’ is that it turned Pedro the Leader of the ‘WOB’ into a full fledged AKB.


  18. Tom

    Fulham might just stay up.
    Credit to Parker who realized the lumbering Mitrovic as the focal point wasn’t the way and opted for speed instead.

  19. SpanishDave

    Pedro explain 11 defeats from your spin.
    Stats do not explain everything you can make them do whatever suits your agenda.
    When we fail to play in European competitions next year for the first time in over 22 years explain that fact

  20. Anonymous Commentator

    i love how people want to berate martinez for winning us the FA cup which set up their lofty expectations for this season and arteta.
    bet your house that if leno was fit for those games we get knocked out, most likely against liverpool, you’ll have two houses right now.

    i would understand disregarding the martinez deal if villa weren’t better than us defensively on account of the addition of martinez.
    we’re 5th best defense? pedro says it’s all leno’s work doing that.
    villa have the 3rd best defense. consequently it must all be martinez’ work, right?
    well that’s the difference between a UCL qualifying defense and an EL defense.
    chalk and cheese.
    we won’t even be EL level after this season so what does it matter.

  21. raptora

    Just wtf exactly happened to the reigning champs??? I swear at round 15 they were 1st and everyone thought they will have an easy defending of their title. Fast forward exactly 2 months and they are on their way of missing UCL football next season.

    Worst defending EPL champions. And I celebrated them losing their 1st game thinking they could finish the season unbeaten.

    How fast things change. Maybe Klopp is pissed off for not getting much help in the market?

  22. Sid

    Pepe saved diet Pepe behind vs Leicester, how does diet pep thank him? By benching him
    Pepe returned the favour by missing that ball whether subconciously or not

  23. Leftside

    You’d have thought a Martinez won us the Prem the way some of you froth at the mouth over him. Let it go. He’s not here because he didn’t want to be.

  24. Anonymous Commentator

    seriously WOW
    villa have 15 clean sheets this season?
    you know, i see a lot of you guys who think that anyone who rates martinez ahead of leno is watching all of villa’s games.
    no one has time for watching villa games to see martinez, you watch those games to see graelish if anything, and that aside no one cares enough to watch villa and track martinez’ progress like he’s some loan prospect.

    villa got the better keeper from the two that we had.
    it is showing in their results and the table.
    we didn’t. that is also showing on the table.
    8 clean sheets from leno, how quaint.
    martinez has 15 at villa? ridiculous. what are we even debating anymore. arteta goofed, the film is in, the stats that ya’ll love to bring up back up the arguments against the fabled saucey one.

    but fuck it.
    here we are
    xhaka still on the books
    leno still on the books
    luiz still on the books, to help the youngsters integrate(?), the ones that were loaned out of course(?). why is he here then, boggles the mind.
    arteta’s decisions. our problems. that man still gets paid no matter how poorly he does, we get to watch our club get destroyed, he get’s to line his pockets.
    these problems, they don’t have to come to roost, they are already roosting in our club, arteta is providing the feed.

  25. Chris

    Has to be said Klopp is experiencing a fall from grace of almost Mourinho proportions.

    They could end up right back where they were ten years ago, you get the feeling simply getting their defenders back for won’t solve everything. Their front three once so fearsome looks completely lost. Even seven changes today couldn’t rejuvenate them.

    Expect to see Klopp taking it easy in a cottage in Lake Geneva before the end of the year.

  26. Graham62

    Scott Parker deserves tremendous credit.

    Fulham can get out of this now.

    Playing very good football.

  27. Chris


    It doesn’t bode well for BHA. Some of the Albion fans I work with are tearing their hair out I don’t dare mention Maupay to them.

    They simply have to start not only scoring goals? But getting points on board. They have been har done by recently, but well beaten yesterday.

    Would be a shame for them to go down.

  28. Anonymous Commentator

    klopp is experiencing the same old woes he always has in leagues when his teams lose that little edge of motivation to play the gegenpress effectively. alternatively it’s fatigue catching up cause klopp barely rotates like he’s managing in the 80’s or something.
    their injuries are bad but pool wouldn’t be threatening any major honors in the league this season regardless. how klopp rescues that situation is his own issue, can’t exactly replace the whole squad again in a hurry.

  29. Graham62


    Your wasting your time with posters like Tom and CT.



    I agree.

    Mind boggling.



    No, “he’s not here” because we fudged up.

  30. Globalgunner

    Quit your wailing Wailers. Martinez is gone. He is not the reason why Villa did the double on us and are higher up the league. Thats all on 2 characters. Grealish for Villa and Arteta for us.
    Our player problems are many but the keeper is like 20th in terms of impact.
    Xhaka, Willian, Bellerin, Luiz & Auba have caused us much greater pain this season

  31. Tom

    “would understand disregarding the martinez deal if villa weren’t better than us defensively on account of the addition of martinez.“

    No one is disregarding the Martinez deal, he’s been immense for them.
    His fan boys are disregarding the fact Villa’s back line are very talented and playing unchanged for the second season running ( CB’s) , while last season they were unfamiliar with each other.

    I’m sure the resident experts who keep reminding everyone they played the game would agree constant familiarity between central defenders and keeper is probably the most important aspect of defensive setup.

    Arsenal back line has been ever changing.

  32. Leftside


    He is not here but he wanted to be somewhere where he would be no.1. That is down to him.

    Arsenal fans do love a cry over spilt milk so lets carry on.

  33. Graham62


    I think Fulham will escape.

    It’s between Brighton and Newcastle who goes down with WBA and SU.

  34. Leftside


    I can’t stand Arteta but I’m okay with that decision. Both keepers battle it out for no.1 spot, no guarantees for anyone.

    If Martinez was here I don’t see our fortunes changing much, Auba lossed form this year and our manager continually makes bad decisions and puts himself before the team. He’s just not a very good manager putting it lightly.

  35. Tom

    “Arteta refuses to see what’s best for the team. He got continually selects the wrong options
    Leno bring one of his biggest missteps“

    Winthorpe Luis lll
    Unless you’re suggesting there are better goalkeeper options on our bench your above mentioned post is what I was referring to genius.
    Not like we can borrow Emi from Villa on their off days is it.

    Please tell us again how Leno isn’t intelligent enough to play the game and while you’re at it explain your qualifications to render that verdict.

  36. Nelson

    That’s how Manure gets all the PK. Martial carries the ball in a see of MC defenders. He didn’t shoot or pass. He was waiting for any touch from the opponent.

  37. Tom

    That’s the Un naai we’ve been missing , welcome back.
    I can only respond to what’s written and not to what your tormented pea brain imagines

  38. Shaun

    Exactly Winthorpe that was the first of Artetas massive fuckups , that said it’s hard to believe some of the madness I am reading today so I am putting down to the meds I am taking anyway off to have some fun , gonna see if I can get rid of the other spud now the blue fucker recovered going for red this time

  39. Graham62

    It’s amazing, there are some supporters who genuinely believe that we wouldn’t be better off with Martinez in goal.

    Do these folk actually understand the game?

    Obviously not.

  40. Gazza

    Along with suspicious way Arsenal are treated by refs & var the same must be said on the amount of pens man u get . Unbelievable

  41. Batistuta

    Because I’m sure Martinez wouldn’t still pick Willian over in form players like Pepe or hardly even give the young bright Brazilian in our squad barely any playing time

  42. Batistuta


    I’ve basically just stayed away from those conversations, they’re pointless and maybe the very first sign that maybe Arteta may not be up to the job because it was such a big decision

  43. Tom

    I’m not the one who’s struggling here.
    It’s the likes of you and Graham who can’t seem to wrap your heads around the fact someone can hold the opinion Emi was the better keeper and not every goal Arsenal concede is Leno’s fault, which I’m sure by sheer coincidence is what you two are doing here.

  44. Dissenter

    Happy for Luke Shaw
    Every time he does well, he sticks a knife into Mourhino

    Henderson launched that attack perfectly
    I hope Leno is watching

  45. Dave from Thurrock

    Good to try and be positive.
    Cant help feeling that the fundamental problems are being overlooked.
    The Kroenkes have had their pants pulled down by any agent or footballing executive that comes along.
    Poor decision making at that level has us in the position were in now. No money for transferes for the forseeable get used to loans and frees.
    Remember that Stans ultimate goal is to take money out, not put it in, yes he wants CL status for that very reason.
    Surrounding himself now with yes men isnt revolutionary/visionary get used to mid table.

  46. WinOrDie

    Why all this moaning about Arteta. We could have won if Saka,pepe took their chances as well as if the penalty was awarded. I think next season arsenal is going to be a real force.

  47. LoveSausage


    A post with many good points. I think you might be a bit optimistic with how much we can raise through player sales but we should still be able to guy one or two good players. Provided we do that and become more consistent with results should be enough for a real top 4 push.

    What I can’t understand is your defence of Xhaka. Saying he’s our second best midfielder (unfortunately true) doesn’t change the fact that he’s absolutely terrible. The reason he’s improved over the last couple of months is that our entire system is built to suit him. This makes sense if the player you’re building around is KDB or Mbappe. Makes zero sense when it’s GX.

    To me, anyone defending GX is looking too much at what’s happening and not enough at what isn’t. What’s the opportunity cost? The frequency of brain farts may have decreased but in the flip side our play flows through a midfielder who’s contributing nothing. Every time I see him receive the ball, take 5 touches, ponderously turn around and give the opposition all the time in the world to organise defensively I want to throw something at the TV.

    Whatever we do in the summer, we won’t be a contender as long as he’s getting game time.

  48. Batesy

    Every time he concedes this Martinez debate come out. Its stupid and its over we need to move on! I don’t agree its Leno’s fault anyway, Xhaka called for the ball, pointed where he wanted it and then got it and took an extra touch and shanked a pass. The way we play this is likely to happen once in a while. We generally do this very well but when we do it badly we seem to get punished.
    We lost this game because we missed chances and the ref and VAR had a shocker with missing a 100% stone wall penalty. . Arteta has set the team up correctly and it worked in that we did not concede to many chances only one I can remember and we created loads of goal scoring opportunities.