NO REST FOR TABLE-TOPPERS

by .

I kind of covered off my views on the squad Arteta took out to PSV yesterday, so I’ll just mostly bust some myths this afternoon because there’s a section of the fanbase that will happily double down on how Arteta manages his squads, then act shocked when our players crash later in the season.

That game meant nothing.

It was deader than dead. No one could move up or down in the group. It wasn’t even a friendly that had purpose. We earned the privilege of leaving players at home and didn’t take it.

‘Match sharpness needed’

We’ve played 25 games so far this season if you count the Charity Shield. Anyone who works in elite-level fitness in football will tell you it generally takes about 10 games to get to peak fitness. Our squad is match-sharp. We’re top three in the Premier League and we just topped our Champions League group. You do not lose match sharpness in 8 days. 2 weeks? Maybe. But 8 days, it’s not happening. Arteta did not take everyone as a sharpness excercise.

You also don’t chase match sharpness in your busiest month. The job of performance teams during this period is to ensure players aren’t overcooked, especially in a season that has seen way more injuries than normal.

‘Every manager plays his best players’

Statistically, no one played with a more stable starting 11 than Arsenal last season. Manchester City had the second least stable starting 11 last season, and they won the treble.

CHART

As you can see from the graph above, City, United and Liverpool all sit short of 80%. The two clubs that sit above 85% stability were Arsenal, Villa, and Newcastle.

Villa and Newcastle didn’t have European football last season, and Arsenal flunked early in the cups and had the ability to go less than full-throttle in Europa League.

Those factors allowed Arsenal to make a run at the league… but even with the reduced load, we fell short the same way we did the season before.

Fatigue hit the squad hard, particularly after the final international break.

Injuries set in on key players and broke the squad.

The link between fatigue and injuries is very clear. The link between stress injuries and player load management is even closer aligned (Saliba).

Even if you don’t believe in these absolute basics, what you might believe in is this: If the best team in the world rotates the most, plays more games, and wins more trophies than you… maybe you should think about player management as a bit more than a marginal gain.

So, let’s refocus on this season… what is different?

Champions League. Better teams, more important games, no rest. Arsenal has been three games a week since September PLUS three international breaks.

What has that resulted in?

We’ve seen Zinchenko out with injury.

We lost Martin Odegaard to a head injury but there were other problems.

We’ve lost Thomas Partey TWICE because of training ground injuries.

Emile Smith Rowe has been out (I mean, maybe we can let his injury pass).

Fabio Vieira is out.

Tomiyasu, a player who always breaks, was given an extended run in the side and we broke him again.

Ben White usually gets issues late in the season, he’s getting them early this year.

We lost Bukayo Saka for a period and we’ve seen him pulling up on the regular.

Martinelli was lost to a hamstring injury.

Trossard has had a hamstring tweak.

How many more soft tissue injuries do I have to list before you start to get the picture?

Arteta likes to train to extremely intense levels and he doesn’t believe top players should cave to the implications of pain.

That’s just how he is.

Fatigue is cumulative, getting on plains is not a plus for fatigue, we did not have to take the whole squad to PSV.

No one was injured, but these missed opportunities add up over the season, and they always bite you in the end.

So when you hear people minimizing the problems, know they are talking objective nonsense, and if they don’t believe you, show them the evidence we’ve seen three seasons running and compare the injury pile-up this season to our injury problems at the start of last season.

Arteta has a weakness, and it’s player load management.

As for the game, it was a bit of a yawn fest. I like their winger Bakayoko. He looked very tasty.

Arteta made 8 changes from the Villa game, my main pain point was risking our two best centre-backs when we’re suffering a shortage like we are right now. Such a silly risk for zero upside out of chest thumping and winnertivity. I’d have taken Kiwior and a donkey as a pairing over the two we chose.

There were some bright sparks. Eddie had a good game and scored a lovely goal. I also thought Reiss Nelson looked promising and troublesome most of the game.

I felt for Mo Elneny, the injury gods fired off some lightning, and they hit him. Part of coming back from a serious injury is the reality that your body breaks down along the way. Hopefully, his issue is minor. I did love his 35 yard strike, he loves those attempts.

The Mo injury led to Arteta bringing on Declan, Martin, Emile, Jesus, Sir Benny Blanco. It felt like Arteta reminding everyone who is boss. Totally pointless unless the goal was to make sure those players didn’t need to warm down after the game.

It was a shame that we didn’t get to see the young players get a runout. Arteta said PSV were too strong to risk fragile minds. He’ll know better than us on that one. Again, it was a dead game, I’m not sure much harm would have been done. If they can’t handle a PSV game, why are they even there? We put Nwaneri on against a much better team in Brentford, but whatever…

We escaped the battle. Blitzed our group. The broader question we’ll find out later is will Arteta’s methods have us win the war. Or will we be looking at Groundhog Day in March.

We shall see. Arteta went all or nothing on a nothing game. I hope he gets away with it.

Right, that’s me done, see you in the comments. x

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Dissenter

The fantastic ego of the referee who feels he’s been wronged

Habesha Gooner

Is Oliver stupid? What was that? That is shit.

MidwestGun

Oh man … if United lose this in the last minute.. It is pretty funny listening to Lee Dixon try to figure out the refereeing.

Dissenter

One yellow was enough there
It was a dubious call and the player was upset
The player had his say, referee got his way
What was the point of the second yellow?

Oliver is a dickhead, an absolute idiot

MidwestGun

Two yellows for dissent.. haha that’s a new one.

Rich

Love that… “We Are Top Of The League”

MidwestGun

Get in there… Arsenal back on Top … the world order has been restored.

Habesha Gooner

That is criminal. This guy needs to be stopped with this double yellow bullshit. He needs to check his ego. What a cunt .

Wardo

Bloody hell. Man Utd scraped a draw

Dissenter

Surely the FA has to cancel that second yellow
We come to watch football, not egotistical referees

Habesha Gooner

Great Result. Keeps Erik 7 hag in the job we go top.

Aaron

Unreal, ref sent off player for a throw in that should have gone manure’s way, and pool still can’t get it done.

AFC!

Wardo

Habesha
Was he already on a yellow?

If not completely agree with you

Habesha Gooner

Wardo
2 yellows for dissent. That is why he was sent off.

Dissenter

That double yellow reeks of a tyrant’s ego.
He must think he’s a dictator

That’s why the sin-bin is an atrocious idea
We are going to hand the game over to a bunch of idiotic referees

Wardo

Really??????
I’m trying to check as that’s ridiculous

MidwestGun

Ya no Sin bin.. that’s a dumbass idea.. we don’t need hockey style power plays in football.

Wardo

I thought he was already on a yellow. To be honest he didn’t do that much wrong

Dissenter

Double jeopardy is a fundament rule in any system of justice
That has to be overturned and Oliver needs to be disciplined. He’s off the chain

Luteo Guenreira

Lovely result. Top going into the showdown with Liverpool. We can beat them, handing Liverpool their first home loss of the year in the last game of 2023 at their ground, would be great for our momentum going into 2024.

Dissenter

He should have called him over after he initial yellow and given him a talking to
Call the captain …with the player and just talk to them.

Habesha Gooner

Everyone one is saying that was a crap decision. The standard of refereeing is shit. He hurt his ego by rightly complaining about a throw in he should have got. That was at worst a yellow and at best a talking to. Just a shit refree with a huge ego despite being shit.

Tom

Oliver….lol.
Good day all around.

MidwestGun

Yep next weeks game is ginormous for this early in the season.. potential 6 pointer.

psuedo warrior

That was actually a throw for United. No wonder Dalot was furious.

Kan

…and the PGMOL wonder why there is no respect for referees. Respect is earned not given. Oliver is a total bell-end.

Madhu

It’s a skewed system where the ref making a wrong call doesn’t get penalized. I think we have find a way of not giving a yellow when the player protests a wrong decision. The system of challenge has to be introduced just like in cricket. A lot of mistakes will get cut down. It’s difficult for ref to know whose throw in it is least he can do is not penalise the player for descent for a wrong call. You are just asking the players to bottle up everything which is unfair

Chrispy

Perfect weekend. Pool have a League QF cup game on Wednesday so it’ll be interesting how hard they go with first team but should be some tired legs to face on Saturday.

raptora

Oliver didn’t book Salah for kicking the ball away after he had stopped the play. Showed a double yellow to Dalot for that though. An absolute joke.

Savage

Same story in our game. Ref needed to give a yellow for the foul on Saka, took an age to do it, so Arteta gets a yellow for rightly protesting no yellow being given.

psuedo warrior

All hail the hag

Not too good to really challenge and be a threat
Not too bad to get the sack

Long may he reign

Northbanker

Great result at Anfield to complete the day.

Reflecting on how finally Kai is actually starting to look like an upgrade on Granit Xhaka..I’m delighted he is turning it around in his first season here – it took Xhaka 6 years to get to that point.

That said I still think we could have put 65m to much better use

Pierre

We played almost the perfect game today against a very difficult opponent. The game was all about control and we controlled the game from start to finish.. Good to see jesus get a goal , good to see Odegaard very positive on the ball , on another day he could have had a couple of goals. We are slowly turning into a powerhouse of a team , back in march/ April I made the comment about the city team having the look of the Arsenal invincibles with their size and power, in comparison we looked a little lightweight but Arteta… Read more »

TheLegendaryDB10

This draw between ‘pool of piss and Manure is perfect for us.

What a way to finish top of the league this weekend.

It’s interesting to see that Liverpool are not all that this season and are there for the taking if we stay focused next Saturday.

Kpankulu

All those Le Grovers calling Kai Havertz a cunt and other vile names in the past should be well and truly ashamed of themselves. Wait…not possible – you have no shame. Just plain deluded and sanctimonious fools who don’t understand that some players [especially those who came from toxic environments like our rival Chelsea] need a little more settle down time. Am I saying this because he scored today? Of course not. He is a bonus for this team – a midfielder who is scoring for fun. His overall play is understated but amazing – like a vital unappreciated piece… Read more »

Northbanker

Pierre – agreed but we still need an imposing goalkeeper- Raya for me is too short to be a top keeper. Ramsdale in that sense was nearer but I think this will be an ongoing search for the right player

Pierre

Northbanker
Unfortunately Arteta sold Martinez so that ship has sailed , Raya is an upgrade on Ramsdale in my opinion .

Pierre

Wouldn’t mind seeing a midfield ot Partey, Rice and Havertz v liverpool.

Northbanker

Two outrageous pieces of skill in the second half

First when Odegaard played his way out of defence with the ball just glued to his feet to set up a counter attack. Right in front of where I was sitting

And then shortly after Jesus reversed with the ball to then attack the goal

Hoping MOTD capture both moments

Pierre

Also good to see Havertz get a proper goal as his previous have been toe pokes and scrappy efforts….all count though

Bob N16

Is Partey back in training?

Tom

Proper goal my ass, Pierre. Until I see Havertz slalom past five players belting it upper 90 style he’ll be gifted goals by his teammates.

X haka

Oliver had an excellent game ,arguably the best performer on the pitch and then errs in the 96th minute and everyone focuses on that.
Incredible the lack of leeway a ref now gets
.
Draw right result.

Bob N16

Just remembered Liverpool playing WHU in the Mickey Mouse QF on Wednesday night- got to be good news for us.

Un

Pierre

Yeah and Odegaard is a massive upgrade on Ozil

Kpankulu

The match officials should never be the story during a football game.

Northbanker

A Partey – Rice double pivot is quite appealing but he needs to come back slowly. I’d prefer to mothball him and state he’s not fit enough to go the the Afcon

Bob N16

‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ and ‘ the referee’s a wanker’ have been one of the few constants in this ever changing world.

X haka

The match officials should never be the story during a football game

Good luck with that, with 22 cheats on the pitch and managers also trying it on.

rollen

Nice work Manure!

X haka

Take Salah.
Ball comes of him
He implies it comes of Dalot.

Oliver exhausted, 96th minute sees the dissent and books him and still gets castigated

Can’t win, as a ref these days.
Surprised they do it.

Youdaman

Nunez gets booked and starts sarcastically applauding
The ref.
Why is that not a second yellow?

Pierre

Un
“Yeah and Odegaard is a massive upgrade on Ozil”

That’s your opinion , as they say ….Ignorance is bliss .

Bob N16

The ref today caused Arteta’s booking. It was a ‘clear and obvious’ yellow card after numerous fouls by Brighton players (one in particular by Milner on Saka). White rightly had just got booked which still infuriated the crowd. So when he didn’t give it, the crowd and Arteta were furious. Then after about 20 seconds or so, he thought ‘I’m booking that ref hater Arteta’ and then thought ‘I better book the Brighton player first before I book Arteta’. What a dick! If he’d just booked him straight away there would have been no drama.

Vickingz

A ‘shity’ United with a 18 year old midfielder as their best midfielder today held Liverpool to a goalless draw, one can only hope to see a ‘well oiled’ Arsenal getting a point at Anfield next week despite Liverpool having a midweek game.

allezkev

Man City leading 2-0 vs Palace draw 2-2
Arsenal finally beat bogey team Brighton 2-0
and
Liverpool stumble to a 0-0 against the worst United team since they got relegated in the 1970’s.
Yep, I’ll drink to that, cheers…

psuedo warrior

Look out lads, here comes the Viking

Vickingz

PGMOL is against Manchester United, how under the heaven can a player be given two yellow cards on the spot?

Bilbo

2 acts of dissent Viking

Rich

Northbanker

That piece of skill from Ødegaard to beat the press into Saka was outrageous… Raptora wasn’t impressed

As was his pass in the opening minutes to Saka, and this wasn’t bad either… What a player.

https://x.com/thecards0/status/1736455017467412980?s=46

salparadisenyc

What does it matter if Ødegaard is or isn’t an upgrade on Özil? This side is sooooo much different than Wenger era. I’d actually be curious to see how Arteta would deal with peak Özil in this setup.

One thing is clear, Ødegaard was on fire today even with Brighton packing the mid. He keeps playing like that we’ll be pressing for the title, flood gates about to open.

Bilbo

This UTD is one of the worst iterations I’ve seen in a while. Understand being a bit more cautious away at Anfield, esp after last time, but they played exactly how you’d expect with a midfield of McTominay, Mainoo and Amrabat. Absolute dour as fuck. Some of the worst football for a collection of north of £1b worth of transfer hemorrhaging. They also looked like today was the first day they’d try passing out from the back. It was as awkward as a year 7 disco. And for all Onanas acrobatics on saves, the man is quite partial to punching… Read more »

X haka

I have sympathies for the refs, because I have tried it.

You would be surprised how difficult it is, when players and managers are NOT acting like big babies and cheating. 24/7.

Bilbo

Mainoo is definitely one to watch – anyone know if he’s English? Kid looks talented, really grew into the game, did a pass similar to Ø to Saka (Rich posted above) and overall had some nice touches.

Graham62

Raya is an upgrade on Ramsdale.
Neither though as good as Martinez.

MG42

To quote Morinho “The Ref was the man of the match” that is never good. But excellent result to of the table. If kaiberdkamp continuous like that there is hope for the title.

zaco

if Arteta deserved a yellow for his hand gesture, why wasn’t Nunez given a second yellow for doing similar thing when he was booked? answer: he plays for Liverpool and not Arsenal.
another weekend of ref calamity

Gazza

Refereeing yes it is a tough job but one basic requirement is to be consistent with decisions, which majority of cannot even manager in the same game

X haka

Gazza

You are right.
But it’s bloody exhausting and your concentration goes.

Eg Oliver today in the 96th minute.

X haka

Maybe subbing refs, to keep them. fresh like the players??

Rich

CL Round of 16 Draw tomorrow at 11.00.

Wouldn’t mind Copenhagen, Porto,, or Lazio.

the_jw1

Kai Havertz has now scored more goals from open play than– Chelsea!

Habesha Gooner

Rich
you know how it is. with our luck, we are getting PSG while city get one of those.

GoonerDave

Refereeing might be a tough job, but the way their organisation is run leaves them wide open for criticism. Imagine a ref becomes corrupted in the future – if you question it, you will be sanctioned. That is not a just and fair system. To punish managers for simply complaining about poor refereeing performances means the refs will never get better. And as long as refs don’t want to make their mates look bad, they rarely call a clear and obvious error. Read the arguments the FA made against Arteta the other day – the final one was that Arteta… Read more »

Guembuzy

Roberto de Zebri: “Arsenal are the best team we have played so far this season. We are not used to suffering in this way. We are used to controlling the game.”

Northbanker

Odegaard was immense today. Whether he is better than Ozil or not is irrelevant to me – that was then this is now. He doesn’t however seem to get colds before away games so that itself is useful!! We still need two upgrades imo – GK and CF. Chino Obi Martin seems to be scoring for fun in the Academy but too long to wait for him to play at Prem level. Eddie is ok but not world class and we need a world class striker leading the line. Jesus doesn’t seem to want to dominate the box enough to… Read more »

Northbanker

* Chido

Dissenter

The rule is not to say what you don,t want. Because that’s probably what will end up coming your way

kjelli

Kai takes two subtle touches to score the goal, Sublime !!

Brian Muff

What was it MG42 was saying about preferring De Zerbi as our manager again?

X haka

The system is bent and cannot be repaired until we get transparency, a la rugby.

Yawn

X haka

Dave

Do you really believe refs will get better, when players and managers now try and cheat for everything?

No mention that if.players stopped diving and cheating, like Salah, refs might get better.

unbelivable.

maybe try it.

MG42

@Muffy Listed De Zerbi last in the managers because he did a fantastic job at BHA, Give credit dude to a manager that has gotten Brighton into a European competition for the first time ever and also being group winners. Just imagine what he could do with the resources given to Arteta. You judge the man at the end of the season and I am sure he will be in demand Didn’t notice that you were coming up with any ideas and suggestions, Looks like sarcasm and criticism of opinions you don’t like is your limit, I already feel pity… Read more »

Madhu

Ref is a tough job but the way PHMOL runs it makes it harder. Arteta said in so many words that we have work together but PGMOL considers players as school children to be punished and reprimanded. They have got it completely wrong and the moment they take clubs and managers into confidence it will change.

Ben D

Making excuses for being bad at their job on the basis that it’s a difficult job is the most absurd angle to take. Would you accept pilots routinely making mistakes because their job is hard/difficult? Or refereeing is harder?

Add to that the fact that they insist no one should even dare point out that they got it wrong

Ben D

How will they improve if they make zero room to get feedback, except from their own. And they have made it clear they will pretend there hasn’t been an error to protect their personal relationships with each other. No organization develops with that culture

Ben D

As for blaming it on players and managers not being honest? Please. Detectives should be allowed to suck at their jobs because those who commit crimes aren’t honest about it?

Tom

“All those Le Grovers calling Kai Havertz a cunt and other vile names in the past should be well and truly ashamed of themselves. Wait…not possible – …..”

Kpankulu, you’ll have a better chance of seeing Santa slide his fat ass down a chimney with a bag full of gifts for you and yours than an unreserved “I was wrong about Havertz” comment.

MidwestGun

I was wrong about Havertz.

Kpankulu

@Tom: not waiting for any mea culpas, just expressing my opinion.

MidwestGun

MG 42 is dead wrong about Arteta, and X’ haka is dead wrong about the referees.

Pretty simple really. I think. There I have solved all of Le Grove’s issues. Merry Christmas.

Tom

Midwest, I think Kpankulu was talking about the set your hair on fire Havertz is worse than shit posters rather than someone measured as yourself.
I know I was.

Personally, I’d like to hear from those who wanted Caicedo and Mount.

MidwestGun

Come on Tom.. I want a fat man to come down my chimney and deliver a Premier League trophy. Let me have this small victory.

Anyhow ya.. the Mount one was weird I’ll grant you that. Most of the Chelsea fans that will still talk to me ..thought he was much worse than Havertz as far as potential busts.

Tom

Oliver’s petulance has nothing to do with concentration or job difficultly.
Producing two yellows in a span of five seconds for the same offense, after having been wrong on the throw in decision, is a terrible overreaction from the only person involved with nothing at stake.

Brian Muff

MG42. I have no ideas or suggestions worth submitting because I’m not complaining or campaigning to remove Arteta. Sure, I can see his floors, and there are times I’m frustrated, but overall I’m perfectly happy to give time to him. To see where we can get to with him as our manager. Just look around at other clubs, nobody’s perfect, even City needed to steal an advantage to get anywhere near perfection, and that’s nothing to aspire to. I just want to see progress in all areas, that’s the enjoyment for me, there’s no fun spending the season nitpicking on… Read more »

MG42

“You’ll be feeling rotten inside that you hated on it all season. That’s my bet.”
You will find I constantly said the time for talk is over, produce silverware after almost 5 years or walk. Not an unreasonable demand and I was asked for a managers list. You picked out De Zerbi. Arteta has to produce silverware this year and that is not an unreasonable demand after the financial injection and the time at the club.

Karsa

It’s four years on 20th December.

jwl

I have cut off your nose to spite your face tendencies and if I’m Arteta I start trying to get even more yellows to point out absurdity of referee situation. Arteta should wear a balo ‘why always me?’ tshirt, metaphorically at least.

China1

‘ I have sympathies for the refs, because I have tried it.You would be surprised how difficult it is, when players and managers are NOT acting like big babies and cheating. 24/7.’ Unless you got up to professional standard and were reffing in the football league, I don’t think it matters. That’s not a dog at you, my point is that there’s a big difference between ‘ice tried something and it’s very difficult’ vs ‘I am paid full time to do a job and I’m one of the most experienced in the world. I operate at the absolute peak of… Read more »

China1

City’s next PL game is postponed. This means until the January break in the PL, we have the following league fixtures

Arsenal:
Pool
West ham
Fulham

Liverpool:
Arsenal
Burnley
Newcastle

City:
Everton
Sheffield Utd
Newcastle

We need at least a draw at liverpool but a win would be massive.

The good news is City and pool both play Newcastle in this period so the saudis could do us a favour here. Meanwhile city’s away trip to Everton looks to me like another banana skin.