In The Dark (Ages–Under Emery). Is Arteta Leading Arsenal Back Into the Light?

It Sure Seems That Way…

…But, in fact, I’m a bit in the dark myself, having yet to actually watch a match with Arteta as our coach…

(Obviously…) This is 17highburyterrace writing today (this morning actually, before sunrise, from Mexico, so, literally, I AM in the dark)…

Can anybody help me out?  I know we have our next match tomorrow and I’m going to try and get myself in front of a screen but it may (or may not) work out and I may have to just “follow” the match via narrative reports–ideally from some comment writers here (for sure, I’ll put up a new live-blog post) and probably with the Arseblog Live-Blog notifying me about each move up and down the pitch and all the match “events” in its pithy way.  I also usually put up the Guardian and their more neutral (and wordy) live-blog commentary which is a bit more for people also in front of a screen.

Anyhow, that’s the next post… And, in the last one, Total Arsenal (now on the road, so I’m trying to fill his big shoes…) put up some injury news (suggesting that Crystal Palace might be a bit of a soft target) along with a suggested starting 11 for the Ar-teta-senal.  That post got a few comments and there seems quite a bit of agreement that Mikel has found, if not his best 11, at least a solid group who might participate over the whole match, i.e., his best 14.  Competition for places is a good thing, but also having roles for (all, or at least almost all) the players means they know their responsibilities and that, in the end, it’s their contribution to the TEAM that really counts.

Maybe that’s the real change the new coach has brought.  It’s no longer individuals trying to impress the coach (Emery) by fulfilling the role of a particular chess piece in a new (and frankly, from my point of view, awful and anti-football, as they say) system, but players working together, even covering for each other, as part of a team dynamic, designed to bring in all the constituents, even us (lowly?…) fans, who live for results (of course) but also want a bit of entertainment.


From my position (in the dark, only reading other folks comments and blogs and other assessments), I’m getting some good (no, VERY good) vibes about the way the new manager is handling things–and the way the players (and, of course, the fans) are responding.  Already, we’re getting used to winning (what a lovely thing that is, right?…) but there’s still an acknowledgement that it’s a work in progress and that we need to focus on the next step.  Poco a poco as they say in here in Mexico, especially when the better tools aren’t at hand and we’re mixing concrete with a shovel–or breaking it up with a sledge hammer.

If you’re still reading, I now have questions…

What do you think?  Are we coming out of the dark?  Is the Arteta effect real?  Are there actual (observable…) changes regarding the style of our football, or is it just better focus and application (or maybe even luck)?  What else, ideally tangible things you’ve seen, not just feelings or sensations, can you tell me about the new Arsenal?

That’s maybe the “mixing it with a shovel” question… Feel free to also take a sledge hammer to things you have seen that you don’t like…

The last match I saw was on 21 December at Everton, an extremely dour nil-nil draw that probably served all four coaches (interim guys, Freddie Ljundberg and that son of a Fergie fellow, plus new appointees, Arteta and Ancelotti, in the stands watching).  That was–literally–the darkest day of the year, but each day since brings a bit more daylight.  It’s pretty subtle down here in the tropics, but maybe way up in North London (latitude 52 degrees) it’s more obvious.  So, whaddayasay?  What are the biggest differences under Arteta (vs Emery or even Freddie)?  C’mon, don’t be shy… Help me out with your observations…

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace

14 thoughts on “In The Dark (Ages–Under Emery). Is Arteta Leading Arsenal Back Into the Light?

  • HT … that’s nice. We need the warmth of BK and somehow from the dark you manufactured it.

    In your darkness you might actually be nearer the truth of where we are.. There are no little things here and there to lead you off the scent.. As you want to know where I am, Arteta is emphasizing the more basic things, his non negotiables: more energy, more intensity, more fight, more commitment, more esprit de corps. And I would say he is succeeding. Arteta is smart. He’s gone to the basics first. He is careful not to overload the players like Emery (I believe) who was too theoretical.

    He’s made some tactical tweaks like AMN tucking in as a false full back. Kola to all intents and purposes iused as winger who tracks back to help the defence with Xhaka detailed to keep an eye on his his rear. With Kola up and wide, Auba is free to use the inside left corridor operating as a left of the field striker. Laca at the centre as pain in the neck to the central defenders. Ozil tucked to the right but free to drift into pocket of spaces for controlling the game.

    Torreira, maybe his most important player to puncture opposition moves through the centre and link up play with the front men particularly Ozil. I think Ozil is also central to his game plan as he wants his team to dominate possession and territory. Emery dominated possession but not territory.

    In a nut shell there is more fight from the players and the action zone is now further away from our territory. I hope I have not just led you off the scent.

  • Frankly? If you would just admit I’ve been right all along for the past 2 years– we can get on with things.🙄 Just kidding (but not entirely).

    What Arteta has done mostly IMO– is create expectations and obligations of players to one another. Do things the same way consistently to start. Accomplish that– and individual talent will begin to raise the team’s results. “High-tide raises all ships.”

    Some folks think the Leeds match was a game of halves. They didn’t take their opportunities. Then we bundled one across. A myopic view from my perch. Arteta knew coming in that Leeds presses hard. That’s why he selected a near top-XI TBH? They press as well as any PL team– except maybe Pool or City. They don’t necessarily have the talent to turn those advantages once earned into goals– but they had several shots on frame that either Emi stopped, or Papa or Guendouzi snuffed-out at the source. But they never stopped pressing hard. And Arsenal’s men remained resilient. There were a few ‘oh crap’ moments, passes– that under Emery (or less so Freddie) might have seen us lose composure ands concede.

    But this now seems what Mikel Arteta has proffered to the team– a confidence. That no matter what just happened? Everybody turn-and-run-their-asses-back and stop the play. It wasn’t ever 4-on-3 or 3-on-2 in the box. We’d always have numbers– and bodies were sliding in front of shots. Or cutting off a passing lane. Or dispossessing the attacker. Swagger.

    He’s focusing on details. Small things like how to position to receive a pass– to be able to move the ball on more quickly. Our fluidity of movement of the ball has improved a great deal. When you swing the disc… er, the ball more quickly– your opportunities to pass upfield are more open, more often.

    A giant weight has been lifted. Players aren’t being left out. Or played out-of-position. The players are playing– for one another. Every player that was looking to leave in January– have backed off from any demands.

    The Joy In Mudville has returned.
    (blockquote)”The Fun is Back”™(/blockquote)


  • Thanks for taking over the webmaster’s duties, 17HT.

    Living in Hungary I have no access to sport channels showing PL games live, and even if I’m lucky enough that national sport channels would broadcast a London derby every now and then, the quality of the commentaries are terrible.
    So I usually try to look for a HD live stream in English (even though I’m not particularly satisfied with the Sky Sports commentaries either). If I find one, I will post it here. With the proper broadband you can watch it from Mexico.

    Regarding the Arteta-effect, my best guess is that Mikel is in fact a smart guy. I know it is not a nice thing to say, but professional football players – or in more general: athletes by trade – are usually not too smart. Of course I’m not talking about Master or doctoral degrees, but the lack of formal education – and the fact that with the astronomical wages they don’t even need business skills to assure a high standard of living after retiring from professional football – usually means that they don’t have the required analytical or critical thinking skills not to mention the awareness and self-reflection abilities. What they do is merely repeating what they have learnt from good coaches, and try to motivate and inspire their players.
    Arteta on the other hand seems like a genuinely intelligent fellow. He has a concept for his staff, plans for the game, strategy to improve players in training, and hopefully a clear vision what kind of players to sign. (I think these attributes are missing from Bould, and probably from Freddie and Thierry too.) Maybe I’m just biased, but I strongly prioritize intellectual capacity over the perceived Arsenal DNA and degree of legend-ness, hence I would pick Arteta over Henry every day and twice on Sunday. (Still I would employ Bergkamp for a striker-coaching capacity.)

  • Hey PE, thanks for the extra things to watch for…if I can get myself in front of the match… I keep believing it’s more about “systems of football,” and being unafraid to actually use the middle of the pitch, which seemed Emery’s (and plenty of other manager’s) big thing. Indeed, a turnover that is central will certainly be a more dangerous moment of transition (counterattack), but that assumes you’re gonna turn it over (the “fear” Xhaka spoke of after we gave up a two goal lead at Watford). Fear (of losing) is what the manager, I think, wants to avoid transmitting to his players, even if it’s a VERY real thing…

    But, Arsenal, since Wenger’s departure has been a culture where blaming others (or at least not taking responsibility…) has been the MAIN thing. Arteta, I think, has seen great managers who actually TAKE responsibility(and actually protects their players) and KNOWS that this is how you get forward in the game. Results may not always follow (and the manager’s head must then be served on a plate, to the fans who STILL don’t get it…) but, it’s the correct approach… (In football, and maybe all other endeavors, I believe…)

    Additionally, I think Emery based his football on spacing (and positioning) in case of turnovers, which is NEVER gonna inspire anybody–unless it really works. I didn’t like it (from day one vs Man City) but some felt it worked, well enough…Until it didn’t.. Our end of season was a disaster and Unai should’ve been gone after Baku. Money talks, however, at Arsenal which is another (sad) thing at our club, and not one which the manager can control, I fear…

  • J-Dub… Like I say ^^^ I’ve been telling people just how crap things have been since I first watched Arsenal under Emery…but, I don’t like the whole “told you so” stuff… (Oops, I guess I just employed it…)

    I did like that first press conference Emery gave but it was CLEAR (as day) that he was just talking… One of the saddest things was watching him read his talking points (off his phone) during interviews… (As a foreigner in a foreign land–right now–I do have some sympathy for the guy, but he might’ve gone back to using his better language, no?…) Additionally, I was never afraid of the Arteta appointment, though I’m still bitter about how a perfectly wonderful manager (A-Dub) got run out of town by idiot Gooners who didn’t appreciate what they had…

    (Where’s Admir–and other Wenger haters–when I need someone to set me straight?…)

    But then again, maybe everything has it’s purpose and we needed to see a possession fearing system of football for a bit, before realizing that it’s ugly to watch (unless it works, of course)… Luckily we’ve got the Moo-man right up the road, so check in on Spuddie ball as it “evolves,” I would say…

  • I completely agree, PB… though I often think that a certain wisdom (a type of intelligence) comes from early hair-loss, a problem our man Mikel (and Arsene before him) did not suffer… 😉 Additionally, there are players who get by on their athletic ability more than others (MA8 never impressed me in that way) and those who have to use every bit of their intelligence (AND mental fortitude) to wring out the most from their bodies. Another thing those players do is use their (more talented?) teammates as a path toward (team) success, which is actually how their own success will (ultimately) be judged. As much as we watchers (and “fantasy” game players…) want to break it down into chess pieces (and formations, etc.) it’s still a team game played by human beings.

    That said, I don’t want to give out my personal e-mail, but we’ll figure a way to get a player rating post up after tomorrow’s match–if you’re willing to write one… Thankis in advance, eh…


  • I just had some fish (that we caught yesterday…) with Felipe and, alas, there ARE tradeoffs to this fine life I’m leading… Like no coverage (on his basic TV package) for tomorrow’s match… Some of the Canadians in town might have the channel but I kind of doubt it and I’m not such close friends with too many of them. And, (also alas…) my (current) internet connection is not fast enough to stream anything. I have hopes for the future (and I thought I’d have more time to figure it out, sure as I was that we’d have to endure the full 2 years or even more of Emery-ball), but, for tomorrow’s match, others will have to carry the load. That said, I do plan on getting up early, putting up a post (inviting others to describe things for the blind man), so…

    Go on then…

    …and don’t let me down…:D

    and like I meant to say to PB above… Thanks (not Thankis…) in advance…

  • So– HT?
    Why not find out how much more to upgrade Felipe’s basic package?
    Might be that the cost would come out at some slight premium to you– but it’s coverage– that you don’t have to invest a whole lot in– to see the matches. 😁

    Back after the Rockets won their second of B2B NBA championships in 1995?
    The next winter I got shipped out to the Bay Area (Fremont) for about 4 months. I would drive into some pretty scary parts of Oakland to biker bars– to watch the Rox play.

    Always a way to get things done.


  • 17ht, the good news is that we are back to playing Wengerball: Compact, more short quicker passes, players are together in a “lump” rather than all over the pitch, and we defend better in midfield.

    I hope the description suits what we are now and were then when Wenger is around.

  • Quick answer for J-Dub… Felipe’s scene would have been just a one-off as his house is tiny and it would only happen because his wife and kids are on a big vacation (to Mexico City, then the Yucatan and Belize) with his wife’s (big) family (los suegros)… Getting TV service (and then a screen and then paying extra for the extra Sky channels is one way to go) but I’m hoping to keep the cord cut and figure out the highspeed streaming stuff–there are rumors out there about the best way to get it done, including getting the same signal that is sent to Costa Careyes… a place which, if you look it up, you’ll see, MUST have some good internet. In time it’ll happen and, in fact, I may very well be Stateside (of the wall…) by the time our next PL match rolls around…

    In the meantime, I’ll set you up for tomorrow… OK?…

    Also, that’s some impressive dedication to the baloncesto, IMO…

  • Ah, I see HT.
    Here I was thinking ‘Felipe’s’ might have also been an establishment (like the biker bars) where you go to eat pescado. Where the tech was in place and an upgrade ($$) to the ‘futbol package’ was the only impediment.

    I will do my best in the morning my friend. 😫


    (Careful you don’t get detained getting back this side (of the wall)😓.)

  • 1 Leno
    15 Maitland-Niles
    23 David Luiz
    5 Sokratis
    31 Kolasinac
    11 Torreira
    34 Xhaka
    10 Ozil
    19 Pepe
    9 Lacazette
    14 Aubameyang (c)

    26 Martinez
    16 Holding
    29 Guendouzi
    28 Willock
    24 Nelson
    77 Saka
    35 Martinelli

  • Thanks Eris…. and please help describe things over in the…

    NEW POST!!

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