Arsenal has a few days to get ready for a big game against Aston Villa. There are still 9 points to play for in this phase, so a win against the team that tried to steal our best player is would be very good news… and boy, does it feel like we need a bit of good news.
Palace saw another inconsistent day at the office for Arsenal. People complain about the tactics, the mentality… I’ve read people calling the Arsenal players weak.
We’re strugging with a lack of experience at the moment, which was always going to be a challenge this season. When you watch the Palace game back, it’s hard to say that they deserved to beat us. Anything they created that was half decent came because of our mistakes. Our centre backs shouldn’t be letting balls go into feet with such ease, especially to Benteke. Our young players should be smarter about how they break up dangerous moves. The team should be building on goal advantages, not sitting back and letting life happen to us.
Thomas Partey making big mistakes is frustrating, because we expect more of him. Sambi Lokonga doing the same is just part of the deal you make when you sign fancy young players from the continent. We’re going to have to deal with that this season.
We’ve spent 10 years waiting for a coherent transfers strategy, now we have one that is youth focused, there are going to be rough moments.
So what do Arsenal need to work on over the next few days? I think we need to find some confidence. The players need to find a bag of swagger. If you take a lead with lots of good football, don’t sit back. If a team pushes up against you, play through it. We allowed Brighton to box us in and we didn’t have the guts to play out of the trap. We let Palace get back into the game and press up against us, we didn’t have the smarts to stretch them.
According to Scott Willis, there was a period in the game where we could barely string 3 passes together. That lack of control is costing us at the moment. That’s the control that Granit Xhaka gives the side that people are refusing to acknowledge. Sambi and Partey need to give us that because we can’t keep playing that way until January.
We’re also seeing the challenges you have with young players. ESR and Saka aren’t going to have the consistency of players 4 years older than them. Those two having a bad day isn’t helped when Nico has a disaster class even by his own standards.
What is Arteta going to do to rectify that? I thought this Sambi quote was interesting.
“He backed me, he backed the team. I think when we come on we have to bring this mentality that Lacazette did…I think he brought fire when he came on and that’s what we need to try to do every time somebody comes on.”
I think it’s time to see Martinelli in this side. It might be time to give Lacazette a go through the middle, he’s playing for a contract, so let’s see what he has. Whatever happens on Friday has to be a response to the lack of control we have at the moment. We need to bring some fire to the party, not a heated quilt.
The big question over Arteta is whether he can move out of this Goldilocks phase? We’re rarely completely shit. We’re rarely blow-the-doors-off brilliant. That’s not a fun place to be in. Even when we’re negative, it’s a boring type of negative. Football is entertainment, pushing results out like a body ejecting kidney stone isn’t going to have the fans on side for long, even with young players. That Spurs game needs to be the start of something… not our one decent game of football a year we have.
Arteta needs to kick things up on Friday. Villa will come to play, they’ll press and fluster us, but we can beat them.
Let’s see what he brings to the party.
Short one today, see you in the comments.
P.S. Tune into the LIVE podcast later where Johnny will be interviewing the legendary Nigel Winterburn! CELEB THINGS PEOPLE. We’re on a rocket to the moon.