Steve Rowley, our Chief Scout through some of our most successful periods passed after a short battle with illness at 63. That is no age. My thoughts are with his family and friends right now. Truly awful on every level. The only positive you can take on occasions like this is that he was part of something extremely special that left and imprint on the history of a football club that’ll be around forever. Legacy, it’s a beautiful thing to leave behind. Big love from all at Le Grove x
Maybe that sort of thing has shaped how I’m going to be thinking about the rest of the season. Because at the end of the day, there are more important things to waste time being angry about than football.
Let’s open today with a tweet from Man Like Matt Kandela. Watch the video then rejoin the post.
— Le Grove (@LeGrove) April 17, 2022
Are you back?
Are you pumped?
Good stuff. Let’s proceed.
I’m going to go all Trainspotting on your right now: You choose what Arsenal you see. You choose your emotions, how to look at then game, what sort of fan you want to be, and right now, I’m choosing to be a philosophical one that sips from a jug of half-full rosé.
Arsenal have made a pigs ear of the last three games, we should have taken at least 7 points from them, and if we had delivered… we’d be choke-slamming top 4 off the top rope right now.
There are lots of reasons you can highlight.
My GroupChat and podcast team think January was a miss.
I think Arteta mismanaged the players he had at his disposal.
There’s also a pretty strong case for luck not going out way. The only team with a worse xG differential in the league than us this season is Brighton now. Remember the doom-mongers about our December xG? Where are they with the defence of us now?
The Palace game was a bad start by us and we gifted them goals from our own mistakes, but we had enough good chances to beat them.
The Brighton game was bad tactics from Arteta, if he’d given minutes to certain players earlier in the season, we’d have won that game. We lost off two very, very lucky goals from a team that doesn’t score.
Then the Southampton game was a flukey hooked pass from the second phase of a corner. Saka buries that chance on a normal day, ESR gets a better connection when he’s firing, normally a team scores when they have 23 shots in a game. Chelsea scored 6 from 24 shots the week before.
55 shots over 3 games. 1 goal.
Paint the Arteta comeuppance however you like, but this moment isn’t an Emery collapse when you dig a little deeper, ours is underpinned by the luck going against us, not the ramifications of the luck running out because we are shit.
Here’s where you need to helicopter out and get philosophical.
Arsenal aren’t shit.
If you think Arteta is a dreadful manager that should be fired, then you are going to have to explain to me how he has us in contention for top 4 with 7 games to go with the youngest squad in the league without a striker that can score goals.
Something is going right somewhere. We’ve already established that we are unlucky. You don’t need xG to tell you that, just look at the decisions that have gone against us this season.
My hope for this season was to be in contention for the top 4 come the end of the season. I wanted us to be competitive.
Well, that’s exactly where we are. In fact, we’ve been so much better than expected, people now think Arteta should be sacked because we haven’t cleared up top 4 seven games before the end of the season. Silly commentary, don’t you think? It has to be noted, most of the people I know that think that way were calling for Arteta to be sacked after the first three games, and had him down as exiting the club in December.
Philosophically, look at where we are.
Competing for top 4 with a group of players that have mostly never won a trophy. They are extremely green. Most are kids. These young players haven’t had the experience or the pressure of competing at this level. None of them have had to deal with form dips. They haven’t felt fan expectation like this, none of them have had the weight of a clubs history on their shoulders.
People also seem to miss that we had 4 of our first team players out yesterday. 3 in the previous game. 3 by the end of the Palace game. Take the full backs out of the Liverpool and City teams, what do you have? Problems. Take out 4 of Spurs best players, you think Conte is carrying a 10 game winning run? He can’t even manage that with Kane and Son at their peak.
The fans in the ground get it 100%, online, not so much.
Where do you want to be coaching wise? Antonio Conte? I hear so much about how incredible he is, but my good friend David, a season ticket holder at Spurs, told me the Brighton game was the worst performance of the season, including Nuno games. Ralf Rangnick? David Moyes? Mourinho? Carlo? Where is the silverbullet?
I’d rather be with the coach on the rise competing with the silverbullet managers everyone pointed to as missed opportunities for Arsenal.
Arteta has some work to do on his player management, he has to learn to listen to the experts at the club that manage player health, he has to understand that young players that aren’t given minutes are going to be able to slip right into the team. Instead of giving minutes to 12 players that needed developing, he should have been sharing the minutes with 16 of them, so they understand what is expected of them. We opted for a young manager, he’s learning on the job with Arsenal, but let’s again reiterate… all managers make mistakes and most of the ‘HE’S THE ONE’ coaches that have far more experience than Arteta had failed.
We have some clear problems with clear solutions. You couldn’t say that at the end of last season. The path forward has never had more clarity.
The difference between goals and expected goals in -10 this season.
That is a solvable issue however you cut it. 10 more goals and we are cruising into the top 4.
How do we get there?
Young players get better in front of goal. They get more experienced, better under pressure, and they grow in confidence.
You recruit more players that can step up with goals.
Arteta wanted a striker this January, they went down many avenues, agents fees were the difference for Vlahovic. We’re just not going to give £13m to them after the Raul tenure. We will sign a big name striker like Darwin Nunez this summer. That gives you a runner that we don’t have right now. That gives you a target in the box. That gives you a total fucking bully that asks questions of defenders all game. That gives you pedigree in front of goal at a Champions League level.
We don’t have that right now… and we are still in the mixer for 4th with 7 games to go.
Arsenal don’t need a squad overhaul this summer, we have a foundation that is really good, that will get better. We don’t need to fill the squad with more back-up players. What we need is 3-4 players that are ready-made for the first team. That’s why signing a ‘back-up’ striker in the summer was a waste of time. That’s why signing bodies would have been pointless. We need 2 midfielders of pedigree that can bench Granit Xhaka. Neves, Tielemans, or Renato Sanches do that job for you. We need forwards that are going to add goals like Rashford, Dybala, Neves, or Oshimen.
Add proper players to the squad this summer, with pedigree, experience, and hunger and we are cooking next season.
Champions League qual this season was always a big ask.
Europe was the goal.
Arsenal are thinking with the longterm in mind these days because we aren’t rich enough to waste money on drossy short-term ideas.
No team is better placed to move forward than Arsenal.
Drastic changes are not needed.
Bold strategic moves is the only way we kick on.
But that doesn’t start next season, it starts now.
Why can’t we get a point or more from Chelsea this week? When are Arsenal going to get a properly grim result where the luck rolls out way? What can Arteta do to rally his troops and get them back on the right track?
1 point against Chelsea. 3 points against United this weekend. Well, we’re back in the mixer.
Success right now would be making that Spurs away day a Cup Final of consequence.
We have the talent to do it. Do we have the luck? Let’s hope so.
You can be angry about our last 3 games, that’s up to you, but I tell you what… I can see online that most are keener to rally around the squad and look at the club with rose tinted glasses because that’s what being a football fan is all about.
So fuck the misery, time to get our big boy boots on and slide two footed into Wednesday like your name was Granit Xhaka against a top 2 side.
That’s the spirit.
See you in the comments. Watch our podcast. Tell Matt Kandela his tweet was awesome.