by .

Ain’t nothing I love to see more in the game than Arsenal stealing a win in the final minutes of a game.


It shows our players are still fighting when the season is dead.

It shows that in fact, we are capable of scoring goals and creating chances.

It feels good, after a season of having those sorts of moments going the other way.

Roy Hodgson’s last game in charge was a tough one to analyse. We controlled the game playing some nice football early on, the passing was slick, Palace couldn’t get out of the own area.

Then we scored. Saka and Tierney combined beautifully, the Englishman back heeling for KT to cross to the back stick where Nico was prowling with a perfect volleyed strike with his weaker foot. Pure Arsenal, the type of goal Arteta wakes up to after a deep bout of REM sleep.

Arsenal then fell back into a familiar pattern. We took our foot off the gas. We let Palace have a crack. This wasn’t helped by the general violent conduct of the Palace players. Benteke swiped at Mo, somehow managing to avoid a red card. A little late, Nico bodged a touch, Partey fouled, the freekick was whipped into the box and Benteke fouled two players on his way to a diving header that drew the game level.

Did it not feel like the officials were angling for a nice last game for Roy?

The tougher the ask, the harder Arsenal players fall back on the patterns of player we aren’t really that good at right now. We created very little. Everyone looked like they were remembering the instructions a little late. Palace were eating up the predictability of it all.

Arteta did make changes though, he brought on Odegaard and Martinelli. It helped. Mike McDonald wrote that there needed to be a rebellion in the system and it happened. Odegaard slipped a beautiful inswinger to the backpost where Martinelli gambled and bundled the ball home.  Then Nico Pepe took command with a mazy power run that ended with a beautifully curled low shot. A £72m goal if ever there was one.

Some performances of note:

Nico Pepe. He’s a weird player. His G/A this season sits at 17. He’s scored some great goals. But at the same time, you can see why he causes frustration. His poor touch led to the freekick they scored from. He rarely takes the ball on a run. His first instinct is always to stop play, have a think, pass it backwards. I’d love him to be more consistently explosive.

Auba had a poor afternoon. Hard to go at him, he had malaria, which is a rough, rough thing to deal with. But overall he looked well off the pace again, he’s not taking chances on balls, he’s not making good runs and his holdup play is nowhere near what we get with Lacazette. His game is one of an assassin, hiding in the box and poaching, not sure why Arteta tries to make him come deep, it’s not his game and never will be. Bigger question: Does he want to be here? It’s one we tend to ask after every game. If he does, there’s a lot of work to do next season to make him work in the system, Arteta can’t keep asking things of players that don’t have it in them.

A lot of people were moaning about Thomas Partey. I don’t hate his game. I think he’d be a lot better if he wasn’t the singular driving force for creating openings. But, I still prefer him into the starting 11 than out of it. His form will improve, he’s very press resistant, he just needs to reduce some of that high-risk behaviour. He’s a bit Hollywood with his passing, but in a system fairly accused of being too rigid, he’s a breath of fresh air for his speed of thought and mostly on-point delivery.

Martin Odegaard has been up and down, but his talent for unpicking defences and opening up space with his movement has been a miss since his injury. He’s a different level on the ball, we don’t have a player that can break down a team the way he can, I think it’d be a huge add if we could land him next season. Let’s be honest, he’s not changing the fortunes on Real Madrid, but he certainly could ours given a proper run at the first team.

I had a lot of heart for some of that cover game from Gabriel. Another player who dealt with a horrendous virus, only to come back flustered. He has great pace, he’s powerful, he just needs to iron out some of the reckless in his game that has made him look a bit all over the place this year.

Final shoutout goes to Bernd Leno. Fast distro, good saves, totally dominant in his box against monster opposition. I’d prefer if we didn’t lose him this summer. He’s had a rough year, but if the club sorts the keeping personnel issues in the background, perhaps he can hang on. Though it’s worth noting… he has 2 years left on his deal, has shown no intention to sign, so technically, he should be getting sold this summer. Let’s see where this goes.

Actually, final shoutout goes to the fans. Kieran Tierney has probably never felt better about being booed. Football is better with fans, yesterday, it was a pleasure to hear the singing and the overall joy from the fans. Life is returning to normal. I couldn’t be happier.

Back to the bigger picture.

Game won. That’s 4 wins on the bounce. This is the table since we added creative players to the squad.

It has been a very rough season for a number of reasons. The Europa League collapse, based on what happened earlier in the season would have seen most coaches fired, but it has been clear for a while that Stan K is trying to replicate the good vibes he’s getting with a young innovative coach in America at LA Rams.

Arteta is here to stay, so people have to stop crying about it and look for positive signs of life.

That table above is a positive sign. It’s 62% if the season. If you are choosing to prioritise the first 38% to get to the truth of whether this project is viable, you are being disingenuous.

Over that period, we have the second-best defence over that time period, the third most goals, second-most points.

That’s Champions League form. If we’d been half the mess we were at the start of the season, which was still bad, we’d be in the top four right now.

Are there problems to solve? Absolutely. Arteta is a rookie coach, people complaining that he’s getting things wrong don’t seem to grasp that concept, or that it’s part of the deal. They also seem to forget the plethora of other coaches that are far more experienced than he is, managing equally bland seasons. Carlo A was hired a few days before Arteta at an expensively assembled Everton side that were 4 points behind where Freddie/Emery left us. He’s 1 point ahead of us. Mourinho, the most winningest manager in the world has left Spurs 2 points ahead of us, after a run at the title. Klopp, one of the best in the world, 8 points ahead on 66 after 99 points last season.

If we beat Brighton, at worst, we’ll be 9 points off 3rd come the end of the season. 9 points of a Chelsea side that was top last season, then added £250m worth of talent to their ranks. Again, I don’t keep on saying this because it’s an amazing feat, I say it because the context for this season for almost everyone is that playing football with no fans in a pandemic year has been a fucking nightmare across the board.

Then factor in our unusually nightmarish squad challenges… well, it’s not quite suicide watch like some would have you believe.

This summer, which needs to go very well, will add more players into the system that can do the things positional football demands. The defence will need to find more quality on the ball with a centre back and a right back. We’re going to need more than one Odegaard this summer, because we’re absolutely nowhere through the middle in big games. We’ll also need a top-quality midfielder, and if Arteta’s, ‘Who else plays as many teenagers as us? We can’t just put them all in’, is to be believed, then chances are we’ll not be looking at Camavinga this summer. I mean, I am totally guessing there.

The ideal scenario next season is one where we’re not constructing complex mechanisms to protect our weaknesses as a squad. That’s the dream. It’ll take a lot to get there, but it’s possible.

The hope for next season is simple… the benchmark level is what we’ve seen since Christmas, then after December, we find a new gear that looks more like the modern Arsenal we hope can exist under this manager.

So, the last game of the season has something on it. The chance to finish above Spurs and gain entrance into a European trophy no fan wants. At least it’ll be interesting.

Also, Harry Kane asks out at Spurs and all the media are begging Levy to let him go. Magic.

See you in the comments, podcasts return next week because I am not at home for the week.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Has it been challenging doing the doggy style on one knee?


Pedro Costa Rica is a holiday I assume or that’s a cool work trip???

Best biz travel I’ve ever done is shanghai. Used to absolutely love it when the company needed me to go. I go there twice a year as a tourist so being actually paid to go there was just too good



Possibly the players, or the coaches etc were in on the joke who knows

But anyone that saw the pre match interviews will confirm what Tuchal said.

I can only go on what I heard but as others have said it’s down to man management skills.

For me the ones I best worked with and for weren’t the ones that knew the rule book and kept quoting it they were the ones that engaged with people and tried to motivate and encourage

Does that sound like Areta?



Mate you do realise that places aren’t for the adults to play on while the kids watch right?



I paraphrase, but I read somewhere something that rang true to me.
If you have principles only when it is convenient and applies them only to people you dislike, then you don’t really have principles, you are just an hypocritical pompous asshole.



Very true.



I’m not bad – got a final interview on Thursday for a new role so fingers crossed.

Bar that looking forward to being able to get back and watch some live football soon – it’s been really hard not having the connection (yeah yeah I know it’s a very 1st world problem to have!) with the team.

You on hols in Costa Rica or work?


Marc you could’ve told me that a year ago and I’d still be pinging 40 yard xhaka passes like it’s nobody business



Curiously all that disappears when Willian breaks the protocol and goes to Dubai . I wonder how that looks to the young squad players . Yeah lets suck up to the manager because he’ll waive off silly mistakes we make.


Sid yeah it has been awkward…

Is anyone else here a whisky head?



Of course there have to be rules but the best policeman of the sort of rules ( not missing COVID tests) but being late for meetings are the players themselves

The suggestion that PEA is a leader makes me smile because if that’s the way he is be viewed anyone who bestowed him with the tag or even the role needs to seriously have a talk with themselves.


I’m not sure Aubamayang is the mercurial talent that people seem to think he is that should mean we indulge his piss poor attitude.

He is a senior player and the captain of the team no less. Honestly, people want Arteta to turn a blind eye to his ill-discipline?

Whether Arteta has set the team up/has the players to play to his strengths is a different story, but Arteta didn’t make him late for the NLD.


China that’s a tag my kids label me with



So the club showed they were clearly on top of things when they offered him that squeaky new contract


On a completely different subject – if the Pooooooooooooch fucks up and doesn’t win the French League does that permanently consign him to the also rans of management?


Sly and China Medical corner. Whenever my knees get creaky I put a pillow between them when I go to bed. Keeping distance between your knees if you sleep on your side reduces strain on the soft tissue around your knees. Bit of a passion killer (Ms K’phobe and I call it the marshmallow after the Tommy Cooper joke) but it prevents that awful fucking pain. Give it a try. Costa Rica Pedro eh? Say hi to Joel Campbell if you see him. I assume he’s propping up a bar in San Jose moaning justifiably about how wenger fucked him… Read more »



No he doesnt . I have seen enough bullies in my life to know Arteta is one . He would rather admonish a player rather than make them understand what he did wrong . In Management it never works when you demonise your best employee publicly , other employees know that when the best one is not safe , they arent . An environment of fear where they know one mistake and its their turn . Its why Arteta’s whole football is turgid to watch , players are afraid to make mistakes.



Think you gotta give Poch the pass on this season, having took over around New Years from Tuchel.
Be interesting to see if he can match sauce man Tuchel’s record.


Also I am not saying Auba shouldnt have been punished but to humiliate him in public like that was moronic. How has that worked out for Arteta ?


Football may be a hobby for us and it may have started a hobby for many of them, but for professional footballers it is their job. Like in any profession people do it for different reasons. Some love their job, some like their job and some hates it, but do it because it pays the bill. Years ago, a hedge funder trader at the bank I worked made millions and immediately retired. He was a keen golfer, scratch handicap. Decided to become professional golfer. 18 months later came back to the bank. I asked him why. He said that he… Read more »



When you say Aubamayang was humiliated, what are you referring to?

AFC Forever

Terraloon Yes, this idea that all you have to do is tell Aubamayang the plane is leaving half an hour earlier, lie about kick-off times and team meetings and cross your fingers nothing appears on social media to tip him off is bonkers. Amateur hour in the extreme. It’s even more bonkers people believe it would work throughout a season let alone that it is a good idea. It might work once or twice, but he might smell a rat when he’s sitting in an empty fucking room and finally twigs what is going on when his teammates arrive. Scenario:… Read more »


Thanks Kroenkephobe
I’ll def give it a try

AFC Forever


“Whenever my knees get creaky I put a pillow between them when I go to bed”

I put my head between mine. It doesn’t cure knee pain but it does have other benefits.


Pedro, While your optimism is great, let’s not forget that: 1. Arteta clearly demonstrated throughout the course of this season, that he has no style. 2. His in-game management was average. 3. Wenger’s Banter-era team exhibited similar traits (gathering good results after rough periods). 4. The post-Christmas run would mean nothing, if we went into next season repeating the same mistakes. Seemingly, Arteta will still hang around, but his style is insipid and his player judgement irrational. Notwithstanding, let’s see how the summer window pans out. We can hope that this is not deja vu – on the part of… Read more »


DivineSherlockMay 21, 2021 15:02:16
Talking about discipline is all cool but when you do it selectively its just bullying. Trying to show off you are the big man

That’s typical small man syndrome 😒


Yeah agree with sentiments on Auba being a poor captain. That often is the issue with making your best player the captain of the ship (as Auba was before the new contract). Messi for me is the best player I have ever seen hands down but he’s a weak leader/captain. The Roma and Liverpool CL collapses simply cannot happen with strong leadership. Not even about being a yappy leader either, Gerrard was never the most vocal, same goes for Vidic. Out of our current bunch, I like Tierney and think he will go on to be a leader but he’s… Read more »


PEA has never been captain material. He was just the team talisman. A club captain needs more than just be a talisman for the team. Being the best player does not mean that you have gravitas, the organisation skill, the communication skill, the intelligence, the emotional intelligence to be a leader. In 1998, Zidane was arguably the best player in the world, yet Deschamps was the captain of the France squad. In 2018, MBappe was the most fierce striker yet Pogba (who at the time was viewed as a dilettante by Mourinho) was the France captain. Lacazette would have been… Read more »



I suppose point is, people wouldn’t in the real world get away with exploiting selective and partial results to justify accomplishments, while balantly ignoring obvious failures, contrary to undustry norms. Either you are a genius or well… like the Kroenke of the world.


Im all for embracing Arteta and the green shoots some speak of. But having difficulties getting around recent fact he got absolutely owned by Emery, although I fell off the boat earlier. If thats not a non-negotiable you’ve not really been paying attention with an open mind in my opinion. That said i’m not starting next season in an Arteta out mindset, that would be way too dark. Problem lies with moment it gets rocky and it will what then happens. Just hoping we’ve laid down a very solid marker of results prior on the heals of a cracking summer… Read more »



I recognize your opinion. A vocal personality like CR7 would have spurred his team on. I cannot forget how he kept on barking orders to his teammates in the Euro 2016 final.

Additionally, if Aubameyang doesn’t want to stay, we should not hesitate to let him leave. However that might be hindered by his huge wages, so, realistically, the best we could do is to hand-over the arm-band to a louder, and more charismatic person, so that the “burden” is lifted from him – and he can focus on just one job.

AFC Forever

WE Yes, a leader has to be a leader on and off the pitch. He sets the examples for all to follow. What let Aubamayang down is his attitude on the pitch, sometimes his effort is lacking. That is what started the conversation. Look at Patrick Vieira, he went to war for Arsenal on the pitch, the other players respond to that. Someone mincing around who looks like they can’t really be bothered and can’t even turn up on time for the pre-match meeting is not a leader. This has been Arsenals’ problem for years, we have lacked leaders. The… Read more »


Arsenal have had a history of selecting really bad captains – ever since Vieira to be honest. Even Henry, as much as I love him wasn’t a great captain as he had it in him to be a bit of a sulker!


New post

AFC Forever

Matt, we’ve lacked leaders mate. It’s frustrated me over the last few years.

A good captain drives the team on, it’s an important role. It’s not just on the pitch it’s around the training ground, one on one’s with players. There is a lot that goes into it. But on the pitch you need that person to look to when things aren’t happening, to inspire you and get that extra 5% needed. Do we have anyone like that?


Cesc was an underrated captain because we didn’t win any silverware.

Should have been captain over that emotional lesbian Gallas in 07/08.



Do you think we are going to finish fourth, if all the pre-Christmas mistakes are eradicated?

Don’t we also have to consider that based on performance data, playing personnel, and superior coaching expertise, the teams ahead of us are going to improve further next season (minus injuries)? If we are stuck with the Arteta-way, then we may not really make any significant leap to the top four.


Was Arteta not aware of Aubameyang’s penchant or lateness and laid back style when he was publicly nudging the club to extend his contract?

Everyone knew what Auba was about, that’s one of the reasons why Wenger didn’t sign him after his break out season at St Ettienne.

There was no need to go public about his punishment.
It was a case of the manager having small-man syndrome.


Dissenter Absolutely-even Tuchel’s recent comments about Auba were telling, although he went out of his way to praise Auba’s attitude and professionalism. In fairness, this was a little tricky for Arteta. Auba had just magnificently lead us to the F.A Cup as captain after being selected when Xhaka had his meltdown. The real issue is that there’s no-one at the club that stands out in terms of professionalism and quality. The ideal captain is one who communicates well, sets the right tone, is early into training and one of the last to leave practice and is one of the best… Read more »

Captain Tierney

Mkhi has 27 goap contributions this season.

1 4 5 6