by .

Well, here we are, once again licking open wounds on a Monday morning. It’s grim. But every moment like this presents an opportunity to learn. That Liverpool performance will give credence to certain debates going on behind the scenes. It’ll also shake out any decisions being moved on emotion, versus hard facts. It needs to mean something because we had a game like this last season against Villa after a semi-final win and it seems we learned nothing.

A bum result like the Liverpool one is par the course for this squad of players. We know we can compete against them because we’ve beaten this Klopp side in the past when they were at a higher level. The main difference this weekend? There was nothing to play for, so the players switched off.

The manager takes responsibility for that, no doubt. The players, well, it’s hard to pin the blame on them. That’s simply who a lot of these players are. You can’t coach character. They have the talent, but unless there’s something of interest on the line, they don’t always show up and that performance will always wait in the wings. You can zig and zag, but ultimately, you usually fall back on who you really are.

We can rectify some of those issues this summer.

Dani Ceballos, under no circumstance, should return to Arsenal. That performance was absolutely shocking. When you’re highlighting the importance of Xhaka to that level, you know something is up. He didn’t know where to receive the ball, he didn’t know what to do with the ball. Even the passes he made that found a man weren’t of the level required… Liverpool press in such a way that if the angle isn’t perfect on the pass, they kill the man receiving. Watch Dani back, time and time again, his sloppiness put his receiver under pressure.

We lacked alternatives. Mo Elneney is not the one. That we started this season with those two as back-up midfielders was an abomination. My big fear on the Egyptian was that we were rewarding him a new deal for being good, the suspicion is that Arsenal will be taking up our option on his deal so we can sell him for decent money. Still, both of those players need to be relegated in the squad.

There’s also the David Luiz issue. He’s our most important centre back, but he comes loaded with baggage as well. He doesn’t show up in games that don’t mean anything, and at the age of 33 (birthday in 2 weeks), are we really going to continue to make him the lynchpin of our defence next season? Your comfort blanket cannot be players like that.

Even Alex Lacazette, who has been a bit of a star this season, has to be moved on. What we can’t do is look at big performers in a drossy season. We have to look to the future. Auba was our big bet last season. There’s only one role he can play… that’s as a centre-forward. That means we can’t keep Lacazette unless we want a £180k a week sub.

Tough decisions have to be made.

We’re already making some of them as well. The lack of Hector time, now missing for 5 games, is most likely linked to him telling the club he wants out this summer. That’s great news for Arsenal and great news for the player. Cal Chambers is no right back and the fact he’s taking minutes over Cedric is ominous… but the happiness I take from that is we’re using his position to see who is up to it next season.

The Rob Holding contract also looks a bit perplexing at the moment, because as solid as he is, he can’t play the style of football we need from him. But, he’s young, British, and he is of the standard in the league. If he can’t cut it, then he’ll be loaned next season and we’ll be banking a fee. His deal was Arsenal acting like a business… I hope.

The Premier League season is now dead, but it’s still of use. We should be trying to find out which players have what it takes at this level. Arteta should be gauging who has the right spirit when there are no chips on the table.

The summer has to be laser-focused on our needs. We have 16 players that, if kept fit, could take us to top-4. Reality is that’s not enough.

Some proper business has to take place this summer.

Watch for basically all the loan players being moved on. Hertha Berlin are now calling Matteo a top professional, which hopefully means that they’ll deal with us this summer. Joe Willock scored from the bench against Spurs, he’ll find a move. Mavropanos will be sold, hopefully to Stuttgart. I don’t think there’s going to be a future for Ainsley, but he’ll find a decent club, no doubt. The only name coming back will be William Saliba who should get a run at starting next season.

Eddie, who only has a year left on his deal, will be sold. It’ll be interesting to know whether we have an option to extend his deal so we can up the fee. Regardless, a team like Brighton would be great for his talents. Reiss Nelson is hanging on harder than Nik Bendtner, he needs to leave, someone will give him a chance.

That’s a lot of gaps to fill, maybe too many, but look… there’s plenty of cash that we could raise, and there are lots of good players that could build out the foundations at the club that are extremely brittle.

Arsenal needs real competition for Bernd Leno. He’s been very disappointing this season. We can’t keep carrying him.

We need a world-class right-back like Hakimi. We need to settle on our roster of centre-backs. There has to be a young and hungry left-back to compete with Tierney. Playing him after 3 world cup games was a disaster decision, but the choices were limited.

Our midfield needs desperate attention. We should be sniffing around players entering their final two years. Young, hungry, exceptionally fit, technically gifted and intelligent. Spending big on one Premier League talent would be smart, but we can’t leave it at that. We need to be very cute. Rummage in Austria, Eastern Europe, have a look in Spain, Portugal and Holland. What can we find in South America? Make Brexit work for our squad.

Our forward line is where the toughest decisions must happen. Right now, it doesn’t work. We’re not scoring enough goals, it’s as simple as that. Pepe had a bad game at the weekend, but that was more down to receiving the ball so deep and having no options. He’s got something, but at 25, could we sell him and upgrade? Lacazette? We can’t keep a striker that doesn’t score. Auba? We have to keep him, he earns more than Mesut, he ain’t going nowhere. We have to make it work. But we have to build on what makes him tick. Sign Odegaard. Give more minutes to Martinelli. See if we can find more runners that can unlock the best finisher in the league.

That’s a lot of work for a Technical Director that thought Willian was faster than he was and blew £39m on him because of special qualities we’ve not seen.

One of Arteta’s comments post-game was.

‘We lacked clarity’

I agree.

Arsenal picked Arteta because they were prepared to go on a journey. Emery was a plaster on a gaping wound, his combination with Don Raul caused an infection. Symptoms? Unbalanced squad, cratered culture, bloated wage bill, no identity… skint.

Arteta wasn’t just hired because we fancied going high risk, he was also the best choice they had economically if they wanted to jump a level. Someone suggested to me on the internet that we should hire Julian Nagelsmann… like, honestly, the most unoriginal suggestion. We don’t have the money for wages, we don’t have the financial backing, and the club is too far away from the top for most to take the risk.

Things have to get worse before they get better. The painting is half done. Since Christmas, we’re top 4, still. The improvements didn’t all evaporate because of the Liverpool game… just like Chelsea aren’t now absolutely shit because West Brom put 5 past them.

The big question isn’t whether this coaching could work… I’m convinced it can. It’s whether Arteta the manager and Edu the Technical Director can move this from a petri-dish maybe to something that works over a whole season.

The only way we get there is if the summer is ruthless and laser fucking focused on what needs to happen to move us to the next level.

Next season only works if Arsenal FC is honest about what hasn’t worked. There must be consequences for not hitting the mark. There needs to be solutions to the weaknesses we know couldn’t be addressed in 18 months. This season will be a pass for a lot of managers, next will not be. The best thing that Arteta can do with the remaining 9 games is give the fans a taste of the young players and dish out some accountability to sloppy seniors. The best way to keep the fans onside is to go out and win the Europa League with a brutal destruction of all the teams we’re about to play.

Arsenal needs to work under Arteta. The next 8 months are crucial. Europa League is what the 1990 FA Cup was to Sir Alex Ferguson. There needs to be a silver lining, that would be one, but nailing the summer is the most crucial of trophies.

Let’s see what we have!

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  1. Champagne Charlie


    Not a fan of that either, and I go back to my point about the treatment of Auba in the summer and the knock-on effect that’s had.

    Now a guy who isn’t even the best CF at the club is the captain and star. You can’t elevate a guy like that and then toss him to the side, dressing room politics would be a nightmare. It’s created such a delicate situation now, albeit Auba is doing his best to make it easier by turning in dogshit performance one after another to legislate getting hard dropped.

    If he wasn’t club captain and highest earner he’d not have seen a start since Xmas and would be getting minutes as a substitute. That’s my opinion, but Arteta has made such an error backing him and propping him up.

  2. shaun

    the club needs an experienced DOF of course it does .Arsenal football club needs the whole 9 as it is clearly not run as a proper business .It clearly needs a BCP asset valuation of players and the appropriate controls put in place . it needs granular risk assessment from the ground up , a proper business football plan for success not this fly as you go bullshit we are seeing .the football operation needs to be tied to the business operation in a sustainable way so that when asset A breaks his leg(say Auba) we have controls in place to mitigate that , it seems we just go with any bollocks the Arteta appointment was a massive risk for reasons I have already stated as he may well be a brilliant coach and technically astute on the training ground but so much more is needed as a manager and it is the stuff that you cannot see or touch that he is missing through no experience or the only experience he has seen has been resolved by the check book or non-negotiable bollocks neither of which will work for Arsenal so when we see him scratching his head and looking surprised and shocked and telling us he does not know what to say as he is still in shock we really should not be surprised as that is exactly what Arsenal football club has set them self’s up for . If we are prepared to wait another three years on Arteta he will bare fruit as he will then be experienced and have the know how he is currently missing . I hear talk of due diligence where the emery hire was concerned but when we look at the Arteta appointment you think what ? Arsenal is getting tiring really as it just does not make much sense

  3. Mr Serge

    Are we just lowering our expectations to much standing for mid table and a shit uefa cup run do we still trust the process ? It’s wearing a bit thin with the performances over the last ,6 games

  4. Chris


    You make an interesting point about 442, in regards to best use of what we actually have available to us right now.

    To my memory, the only time Lacazette and Aubameyang have worked well together is in what ended up being a modified 442 under Emery. See the games against Valencia and I think Napoli. In the Mestella they dominated Valencia in this formation. They would obviously be freed of most defensive responsibilities.

    However I don’t think Arteta would got this route in any case, but it would be worth considering perhaps. Formations come and go in football, perhaps 442 will have its day again.

  5. Valentin


    Spot on.
    Leno has never been that great goalkeeper. He may be suffering from crisis of confidence, but that’s not the main issue.
    The main issue is that he is just not good enough. He has always been a mediocre goalkeeper who hides his flaws by having once in a while a great shot stopping game. People then remember all his marvellous saves and forget the regular occurrence of mistakes that directly lead to goals, the complete lack of command of the penalty box and defense.

    His poor distribution is now recognised as an issue because Arteta obsession with starting from the back put him in the spot light.

  6. Valentin


    Tactics are cyclical.
    4-4-2 is having a revival. It often morph into a 4-4-1-1 or 4-1-3-2.
    If you have two CFs with different characteristics that is a way to use both at the same time. It also offer something different for defenders. Most are used to mark only one striker, but with two in attendance especially a mobile one who can drop and link-up, they have to choose between following the second striker or stay put.
    Spurs (Kane, Son), Burnley, Leicester (Vardy+Ineacho) plays a variation of 4-4-2.

  7. Rich


    If there is clarity of vision from Arteta?

    Then it’s very difficult to pinpoint from the outside, what his plan was, or currently is…..

    Neither Arteta or Edu should be allowed anywhere near our rebuild, If people were being held to account for their decision making, like in most top organisations

    Then heads would roll

    I really want to back Arteta as our head coach, but not as our manager, but the more I break down the decision making, the harder it is to justify

    The margins between us being where we currently are, and in the race for 4th, really aren’t that big, our decision making away from the pitch is what’s hurting us on the pitch, more than the tactics or coaching

    Our problem is that if we sack Arteta, we’ll be left with Vinai + Edu

    And if we sack Edu + Vinai, we’ll be left with Stan + Josh Kroenke, who are on the other side of the Atlantic, and don’t appear to have the slightest clue what’s going on

    Because if they did, heads would already have rolled

  8. Chris

    When Arteta first came on board as head coach, I recall discussions here in which most were in agreement that this was a ‘project’ , there was much to fix and that a judgement on him couldn’t be fully passed until the end of 2021-22. However I don’t think many of us foresaw the depths to which we would sink, at our worst point, during this season. This obviously alters the perception a bit and shakes the faith a little in whether he is the right guy moving forward.

    For me the point still stands that the squad still needs massive improvements, and I have liked what I have seen from an Arteta Arsenal when it has clicked. The key is obviously maintaining the good performances on a consistent level, and unfortunately many of the current players, as they have done for years, seem to lack the mentality for this, as well in some cases obviously the overall qualities to make us a top four team again.

    So I would want to see Arteta stay on, have a good summer window, and finally wave goodbye to some of the players who should have been long gone. I have said before, this summer is so important, the biggest transfer window in a long time. However if we do have a productive summer and Arteta is still struggling, then at that point we would have a decision to make, not necessarily at the end of that season 21-22 either.

  9. Up 4 grabs now


    For me 442 fits what we have now.
    Two strikers split centre halves. And create gaps that midfield runners can exploit.
    The amount of goals from our front line is terrible.

    Currently if we have a striker in the box, there crowded out by two centre halves and the rest of our attacker’s are on the edge of the 18 yard box.

    Its food and drink for defenders the way we don’t attack the box.

  10. Chris


    I’d also love to see a good old fashioned 442 used from start to finish, didn’t Bayern used to play a 424 back in the day?

    It’s just such a classic formation and one I’m guessing most of us grew up on. I still use it on football manager!

  11. Pierre

    “. It was clear prior to Christmas that we needed a 10, Odegaard came in and our output improved for all to see”

    I think you are a little confused Charlie , it was Smith Rowe who improved our output for all to see, and then he was shunted out to the left ….

  12. Dissenter

    I think you’re struggling from a lack of clarity, that trait you certainly share with Arteta.
    Arteta and Edu are joined at the hip; Arteta made a play to share Edu responsibilities and Edu was too stupid or timid to not walk away.
    You can’t keep bashing Edu when in fact it may be Arteta leading him down the rabbit holes.

  13. Champagne Charlie


    I’m not confused at all, ESR came in and played as the 10 that was missing and we improved. Odegaard came in because you can’t put your hopes on a teenager that only made his debut at Xmas.

    I’ll be very explicit with my views, Odegaard is a much better 10 than ESR currently, and it’s why I reference him vs Emile. He’s a senior player who was a standout in La Liga for a top 4 club which is wholly different to a teenager that did well at Huddersfield.

  14. Dissenter

    Thanks for the push back
    ESR is not sexy enough for many
    It was ESR that saved Arteta’s job in late December and January well before Odegaard joined.

  15. Tom

    Odegaard didn’t get any meaningful minutes until mid February.
    Arsenal’s fortunes started improving after Christmas due to ESR.
    Crediting Odegaard for that is another history rewrite.

  16. Tom

    I was for Arteta having a bigger say in personnel decisions, mainly because I think it’s easier to implement your vision as a coach if you get at least some of the players you consider fit for purpose.
    Of course the dangers of giving an ambition unknown this much power is that he’ll look for expensive quick fixes to build his own reputation rather than looking after a long term wellbeing of the club.

  17. Pierre

    Although Odegaard and Smith Rowe are no.10’s , they are not in any way similar in how they play the role.

    Odegaard predominantly plays in front of the opposition defence , whilst Smith Rowe looks to break the lines and runs the channels .

    Odegaard has more of a less risk game ,more about patience and waiting for the moment , whilst Smith Rowe is all about one and 2 touch , pass and move at pace in an attempt to make things happen .

    Does this make Odegaard ” much better ” than Smith Rowe, my eyes tell me no , my eyes tell me that he is a much different no.10 than Smith Rowe.

    As i have said many times before , football is all about partnerships and it’s clear to see that Saka and Smith Rowe have a very special on field relationship that was broken up to bring in Odegaard.

    Saka’s performances have dipped recently, whereas his football had never been better when he was playing alongside Smith Rowe.
    This could be coincidental maybe, maybe not…

    Odegaard plays a very similar game to Ozil , very unselfish and will be involved in most of our offensive plays , as Ozil was .
    Odegaard is much better without the ball and apart from the liverpool game has been very influential…we should try and sign him.

  18. China1

    ‘ In 10 Premier League matches with Saka and Smith Rowe both in the starting XI, the Gunners have picked up seven wins, averaging 2.2 points per game and 2 goals per game. But Arteta’s side have only won five of their 20 league games without the pair starting together, with just one point per game and 0.95 goals per game on average’

    A wholly unsurprising stat.

  19. Marko

    Citing another teenage defender doing well is about as Marko as it gets with you, it’s such a billy basic response I can’t even be bothered going further on the matter.

    Can’t even be bothered to go further because you honestly can’t sounds about right when it comes to Arteta and yourself. Saliba highly rated is older and considered a better prospect than Fofana who plays regularly in the premier league wasn’t deemed ready by a manager doing a poor job meanwhile at Nice he’s ever present and performing well. I suppose you have an excuse for what he’s doing with Martinelli as well lemme guess he also isn’t ready yet.

    I should be shocked at the blind support that you are showing for Arteta but then I remember that you blindly followed Wenger in similar fashion (excuse excuse excuse).

    Just fyi to people we currently have 12 league defeats and the last time a manager had as many defeats as that was 13 in Arsene Wenger’s last season then he was duly removed. Despite the clarity at Arsenal (lol) surrounding Mikel he should be gone at the end of the season

  20. Valentin


    Personally I would love if we were to move to a 4-1-3-1-1 formation.
    Partey as the lone DM.
    Willock, Guendouzi, Saka as the three midfield.
    Saka and Nkethia or Martinelli as CF.
    Both Guendouzi and Willock are deceptively strong for their slight frame.
    Saka nimble enough on their feet to be a threat that would need double down on his side leaving the possibility for Willock to score from one of his trademark late ghost run into the penalty box.

    Unlikely bro happen, but we can only dream of an Arsenal team full of youngsters setup to attack.

  21. Nelson


    I find that if Arteta put priority to build up the chemistry between Odegaard and the other forwards; Saka, Pepe, Auba and Laca, so that they could pick up Odegaard’s deliveries, we could have a very good attacking force. That would be more rounded than depending on the combination between Saka and ESR. We saw how Villa stopped us by keep fouling Saka.

  22. Champagne Charlie

    Odegaard has had a far more impressive career to date than ESR, his pedigree is unquestionable and so is his talent. ESR has talent, but he’s raw and inconsistent as is to be expected at his age. I rate them both and have likened ESR to Nasri who I absolutely adored.

    But we have better attacking players than in 2018, got it.

  23. Marko

    On course for our worst league finish since 94/95 season and there’s actually people arguing for this bum having another season. After the dogs abuse Emery got for finishing 5th and 1 point off the champions league it’s honestly kinda surprising. Good teeth and grasp of the english language is vital it seems

  24. Almuniasaynomore


    I guess the hope is that his flaw with distribution that you pointed out might see Arteta lose faith in him but as we all know other areas will be prioritised. I just don’t trust Arteta to get it right even if he did have the money as he failed to recognise the calming influence Martinez’s presence had on the defence. ( or at least that’s how I read it,even if Martinez was seeking reassurance I think a manager that recognised his qualities would have found a way around it)

  25. Tom

    We should definitely attempt to sign Odegaard , but frankly RM would be nuts to let him go.
    And if he ends up going back to Spain at the end of this season and Arsenal fail to win Europa, or gain any places in the PL, then his loan would probably have to be classified as a major failure exactly for some of the reasons Pierre has explained above.

  26. Rich


    The fact that Arteta + Edu even have shared responsibility, and the people above them have allowed it to happen, is the far bigger problem

    Leadership comes from the very top, and then works it’s way downwards

    Arsenal are a ship without a captain, it’s impossible to hold people to account, if you don’t clearly allocate responsibility

    Wenger was our captain, responsibilities then got passed on to Gazidis, who technically should have been Wenger’s boss to begin with….

    Gazidis then set up a new structure, then instantly deserted a sinking ship, but left a pirate onboard

    That pirate then seized control of the sinking ship, and made the hole that was leaking in water, even bigger

    That pirate was thrown overboard after 2 years this summer, but instead of bringing in people with proven experience of fixing sinking ships

    They decided to give the job of captain to a guy who’d either sat idle, or who was partly responsible for navigating the boat into the iceberg to begin with

    The new captain then panicked, allocated shared responsibility to two novices, who are now guiding the ship towards an even bigger iceberg

    What we need to do is hire a competent and experienced captain. who can then pick his crew members, allocate them clear responsibilities, give them the tools they need to do their jobs, and then hold them to account for their decision making

    Then as in most normal places of work, if they do well? they’ll be handed a pay rise, and if they do badly? They’ll be handed their p45

    Right now nobody is being held to account for our poor decision making, and that’s a bigger problem, than the poor decision making

    If you want to fix a problem, fix the root cause of the problem, and our biggest problem is a lack of leadership

    The problem isn’t Arteta offering Willian a 3yr deal and all the other fu*k ups, the problem is Arteta being in a position to push that type of lunacy through in the first place

    If we have so little faith in Edu, that we had to give half his responsibilities to one of his line managers?

    Then why didn’t somebody hand Edu this P45? And then go and get somebody new in, who we think is competent enough to do the full role of Director Of Football?

    After all the many fu*k ups Edu + Arteta made last summer, the people at the top are going to let them loose again this summer?

    Strong and competent leadership, doesn’t let any of this shenanigans carry on underneath their noses

  27. Dissenter

    There’s no technical director of note that will come in to split responsibilities with a power grubbing rookie manager like Arteta.

    Arteta will need to go back to his previous role for anyone like Overmars to agree to come in.

  28. Rich


    There shouldn’t be a shared responsibility, if we don’t think Edu is competent enough to do the job on his own, we should replace him with someone we think who is, and if Arteta doesn’t like it? Then he shouldn’t let the door hit him on the way out

    On another note, check this out

  29. Words+on+a+Blog


    “Cloning not allowed yet”

    Would be good to have 2 Sakas – one covering for Tierney at LB and another taking up his usual
    position in the right of a front 3!