by .

Well, here we are, looking over a wrecked start to the season trying to work out if what we’re seeing is a disaster predicated on a severe mitigating circumstance or a mitigating circumstance that has given cover to a disaster already unfolding.

There are a few worries that I have post-Chelsea game and actually, one of them comes from reading Mike McDonald’s yesterday.

‘I saw Arteta refuse to address a simple tactical issue on Chelsea’s right and I saw what I fear will be his downfall, a lack of humility. None of this has anything to do with unfortunate circumstances.’

Mike put this down to stubbornness, which would be kind in my opinion. I had a different take. I think Arteta is far more similar to Jose Mourinho than any other manager out there. He’s very transactional by nature (bye bye Willian), he seems to be a bit of an egotist (falls out with everyone), and if he doesn’t get what he wants… he throws his toys out the pram (Brentford presser).

He’s also very, very intelligent. There’s absolutely no way he didn’t see Arsenal getting hammered down the left. It was so obvious, it almost looked like he let it happen to us to prove a point. That is a Jose tactic from back in the day, if he didn’t get his signings, he’d do something self-destructive to make a point, then he’d get his shopping list addressed.

It’s moves like that that kill me. That’s not ability, it’s immaturity. Same sort of carry-on before the Brentford game. That game was lost in the press conference and the behaviour that preceded it. That’s not ability, that’s maturity.

You can do things like that if you are delivering. Big coaches behave badly all the time. Pochettino had a massive sulk about the coach/manager position, refusing to wear a suit, but he had earned his stripes. This Arteta nonsense doesn’t hold weight with the fans, who let’s be honest, are at best neutral to him… and it shouldn’t hold weight with the club.

Having an obsession with being right is a bad trait. We let Arteta hire yes men around him. Children or people grateful for his gift of a job at a massive club. When you surround yourself with meh, you have to be so unbelievably good at your job, because when things go to shit, no one will tell you that you’re not wearing clothes.

William Saliba is doing a great job in Marseille at the moment. He has his own set of Ultras that own one of the most potent propaganda networks in world football. They are persuasive. It is getting desperately hard to not look at that loan and think it was all about Arteta. Do I think Saliba is controlling Lukaku at the weekend? No. But do I think he’d have grown from the experience and offered us more from the dismal Pablo Mari? Likely. Again, Saliba getting 3000 minutes this season will be major… but I can only accept those minutes going abroad if our back-up defenders don’t cost us points like they have in the last two games. A 28-year-old defender with beautiful hair getting rolled in our box was embarrassing, and that rankles fans, especially the Ultras. We had Pablo on loan, we watched him in training every day, we made that loan perm… and he’s not that good.

Arteta shouldn’t have leverage at the club, but he does, because we have weak leadership and a knee capped Technical Director. The calculation is quite simple from Arteta… are you really going to sack someone you just gave £130m? If you do, what are you going to bring to the club? The best Spurs could do was Nuno. The best Everton could do was Rafa. Who do you think we’re getting midseason? Antonio Conte… a chequebook manager, a demanding winner, a total lunatic, bad with kids? No chance. He’s not matched to our new vision. Graham Potter? Brighton paid £2m to release him, do you think their poker playing owner hasn’t thought about his release clause? We’d be hiring the type of nobody that rocks up on a boat with Raul, Edu and Kia in Monaco. I think that factors into how Arteta behaves.

The way I see it, the manager has 10 games to save his career, and I suspect he probably will.

  • NCFC (h)
  • Burnley (a)
  • Spurs (h)
  • Brighton (a)
  • CPFC (h)
  • AVFC (H)
  • LCFC (a)
  • Watford (h)
  • LFC (a)
  • NUFC (h)

We need to be extracting 23 points from that lot. Liverpool is probably a write-off, but at least we should have full complement of players to choose from. Spurs has to be a win. Leicester has to be a win. I cannot have Patrick Vieira bossing us with his new Palace side.

Things I’ll be looking for:

  • This is Arteta’s squad now, so where is the better football?
  • Can he make his players press intelligently for more than 6 minutes?
  • Can he get on a run like post-Xmas

The key to any success for me is getting Auba back to his best. That’s why I was shocked to read yet more ‘Auba could go’ stories doing the rounds yesterday. It’s Arteta again. The player isn’t working out, so instead of making things better, he just wants to discard last summer’s toy. He’s like Donald Trump. Everything is zero sum. Who is holding him accountable? Which coach is the counterpoint to this?

His job is to get us back to 2 seasons ago Auba. A man who loved his football, who scored goals for fun, and lifted the fans. You can’t just bin him because you don’t fancy him.

Willian is about to exit. For me, it’s quite refreshing to have a player in the side on a big contract who actually wants to play football and actually reacts badly to being disliked by the fans. We’ll be exiting him, but no doubt picking up a huge chunk of his two-year deal, especially if he goes to Brazil. Who is being held accountable for this? No doubt Raul and Edu were pushing the player… but let’s not pretend Arteta wasn’t championing this guy and his special qualities.

There are also other exits lined up. Kola will leave to Turkey, Eddie will get his move to Palace, and Torreira is going to Italy.

We await a new on the right back… but dear lord, don’t let that player be a 31-year-old that’s been bombed off by an elite side. Do we ever learn?

We play West Brom a little later. We’ll have the chance to see Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale make their official debuts. We’ll probably see Tavares and some of the players that are around the periphery. It’s a must-win game whoever he puts out there. Sadly, I’m not looking forward to it… when your biggest backer is getting bored, you know you are in trouble.

Let’s see what he has, because the time for excuses is well and truly over.



457 Responses to “MUST WIN?”

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  1. Receding Hairline

    “but at the same time I fully understand how a CB with his skill-set influences our ability to progress the ball front-to-back.”

    Guess you have known about his said “skill-set” , rabid Brighton follower that you are, you didn’t just start googling Ben White once you heard your MCM was about to drop 50m on a nobody from Brighton , at least Raptora watched Dumfries in actual games to judge him. We played Brighton twice last season at the Emirates, Ben White was at full back, I am sure you said sometime during the game fellow’s skill set is exactly what we nee


  2. China1

    Charlie, your adoration of xhaka knows no end. It’s weird

    Which low quality players do I always big up?

    I said ceballos had a great debut? Sure I did. Like everyone else who watched it. It was a great debut. He didn’t kick on consistently and ended a disappointment.

    Torreira started well for us and won plaudits for it. Then dropped off and failed and here I am saying we should be selling him.

    The difference between me and you is I give every player a chance but if they fail to kick on consistently I will gladly see them flogged.

    The weird thing with you is you are hyper critical of half the team but the moment 12m xhaka gets critiqued your defensive as hell. 90% of people here can see it and you’re on here calling me embarrassing. Sure.

    Notice you still can’t find the will the say xhaka is a player who is good enough to start for a team with ambition of competing for serious trophies. And since he’s not, the never ending question is why the fuck has he been in the starting 11 for the past 5 years? Who has played for us for that long and been a mainstay in the team yet not been of the desired quality?

    You say I’m always biased against xhaka yet you’ll see I critique loads of our players. If they’re not good enough they’re not good enough. I’m not loyal to individual players I’m loyal to the club. You oh the other hand have gone to war for a player who isn’t good enough since the day he joined. Most of us just have no idea why.

  3. Valentin


    This is exactly the issue I kept coming back.

    What is the definition of stats axis? What is a progressive passes?

    Are all forward progressive? Because there are numerous forward passes that do not progress the play at all. Xhaka is a specialist of the passes that go a teammate who is surrounded by defenders and had no other option than recycling backward the ball.

    Can a lateral pass be a progressive pass? If a play run vertically and drags a defender toward him and then releasing a teammates in space, then to me it’s a progressive pass even if its vertical movement is small.

    Is there a minimum distance for a pass to be call progressive?

    So to me progressive passes should be passes that destabilise the opposition and let a teammate a free run at the defense or a shot at goal.

  4. China1

    Valentin the absolute irony is a few weeks ago Charlie was agreeing with me that you can’t read all that much into one or two stats because there’s so much context underlying them that isn’t reflected and because we don’t even know how they’re measured

    Now xhaka is quality because of one or two numbers

    Sure he is.

    And he was in the PL team of the season based on one of those stat aggregation sites.

    Now ask 100 PL fans to vote for their team of the season and see if you can find a single one who would pick Xhaka in it. Yeah…

  5. Champagne Charlie

    His skill set is apparent to anyone that familiarises themselves with him, bit like a quick google of Auba and you can tell he’s a sharp poacher. The application of that to a team is pretty obvious, but it’s an Arteta thing is it suddenly? Makes sense.

    You talk absolute bollocks on the subject, you’re as honest about me as you are about Xhaka. I’ve talked up numerous players in Cm that I’d sooner see signed, but thick fucks like yourself only tune in to the parts where I dismiss claiming Torreira, Ceballos, Elneny as superior to him – proven right on that if you’re keeping track.

    He does his role well enough vs a number of other positions that fall a long way short. That’s why he’s no priority for me, and I’ve been clear as day on the subject time and time again.

    Do explain why I have some apparent adoration for him? Because the long and short of it is because I don’t nod along with the shit opinions that claim the other options superior, and I don’t argue the measurable facts of his on-field influence to belittle him further. Some adoration that. Haven’t spent the summer talking up Ruben Neves as his replacement or anything either. Like I say, your whole outlook is ridiculous.

  6. Elmo

    Pedro was right originally with the modern structure, that the DoF/Tekdek was the hire that Arsenal absolutely had to match perfectly, and I like that he’s circling back to it now.

    Gazidis bottled it by bringing in Raul, because Gazidis himself didn’t understand the culture of Arsenal (conservative, risk-averse club that would clash sooner rather than later with a sleight-of-hand spiv whose most famous work at Barca was outrageous bungs to Neymar’s parents in Brazil).

    The replacement then was Edu, a guy with no experience in top level football administration. I remember Tim Vickery’s (BBC South American football correspondent) reaction at the time: he said he couldn’t quite understand why Edu would be a fit, seeing as his job for Brazil was: (1) to be an emergency back-up plan to take over from Tite at short notice if he was sacked before the home Copa America in 2019 (a possibility at the time); (2) to track the progress of Brazilian internationals and potential internationals playing overseas. He probably watched a selection of European football, but it was just a small part of his role.

    It’s difficult how to re-establish a hierarchy now. Ideally you want the new Tekdek to establish tenure and primacy, articulate the medium-term strategy, and appoint a new coach themselves, who immediately knows who their boss is. Right now if a new Tekdek comes in, they’re in a power battle with Tets, who currently holds court at the club, and that uncertainty and conflict will be a deadweight on the club. At the same time you don’t want a clean sweep with new Tekdek and coach coming in at the same time, as they will both fight to set the balance of power (as Tets did when he saw a power vacuum). That’s the problem with starting a season ‘in crisis’, with question marks over your two key executives.