Arteta Has Three Options To Turn Things Round

Another home game lost against a team we needed to beat, is anything but good. There is plenty to say about what needs to change but I would just be repeating myself and other BK bloggers’ views. I also have no doubt that Arteta is fully aware about what’s wrong and needs changing. The difference is that he is actually responsible to make the change whereas we just have passionate opinions.

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It is easy to think we are stuck in a rut and Arteta is doomed. Yet had we won yesterday we would feel very differently. I reckon the early clash of heads was a turning point. Their player went off badly injured and such moments galvanize a team. Our player stayed on and appeared to have lost his ability to think straight. At the end of a disrupted half we conceded twice from two shots on goal in Luiz’s (and Bellerin and Ceballos’s) area, and we managed to score only once. The second goal was an unlucky one from our perspective but also showed that we cannot afford to not play without two proper defensive midfielders (who have good positional awareness).

The second half showed a willingness by the team to make things right again. Yet we lacked the intensity and force to really hurt the organised Wolves. 60000 home fans would have helped to spur the team on, but we need a strong resolve from within the team. I don’t believe this is down to a lack of leadership or hunger, or indeed a lack of quality within the squad, but to a lack of belief in Arteta’s system of play and instructions.

Every new manager seems to experience a big dip at some point after joining a new team, and this especially goes for those managers who are trying to play a different way – who go against the grain. I guess Mikel currently has three options (other than resigning which I am sure he is not contemplating):

  1. Stubbornly/categorically continue with his evolutionary plan and explain to everyone that things will get better and ‘just stick with me’;
  2. Make a U-turn and play a safer, more success-guaranteed style of football;
  3. Sit down with the players and get their opinion and insights on what could save the PL season.

A deductive, vision-top-down, approach is clearly what Arteta is going for. This is exactly what Pep Guardiola and Jurgen with the Teeth have been doing. But they were experienced managers when they came to the PL and Mikel has only just started, so it is likely to be much harder for him. An inductive, experience-upwards, approach is unheard of to a ‘system coach’ like Arteta, but this often works best in the UK is my (management) experience. If Areta – and I say if because we don’t really know – is sticking to his vision too dogmatically, there is a real chance he will not be able to get the team behind him. We know us Gunners are rubbish in being loyal to a manager for long, so Mikel may have to do a bit of option 3 above and find some sort of middle way.

Or maybe that is all rubbish and now is the time to stick with his vision and do his utmost to get his players on board again. As Marcus Aurelius said: “Indeed, no one can thwart the purposes of your mind – for they cannot be touched by fire, steel, tyranny, slander, or anything”.

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By TotalArsenal.

31 thoughts on “Arteta Has Three Options To Turn Things Round

  • TA, I’m not seeing a clear vision at the club, which bothers me the most right now. The technical quality has dropped and we constantly have one foot in the door of trying to convince ourselves we can make top 4 by signing win now players and another foot in the door of rebuilding the squad by signing young players.

    If there’s going to be a way forward, the team and players Arteta chooses need to be dedicated to that view. Right now, it looks like no one is and those bad habits and attitudes are starting to seep back in. I think if we persist in the current way, I fear Arteta will lose the room, but then again January is not that far away.

    If you keep persisting with option 1, you may lose the dressing room all together. 2 could come at the long term cost of 2 even once you get the right players. 3 doesn’t seem like it would be work unfortunately. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to your riddle today.

  • To be a successful manager, I do not think that #3 is ever an option. Football is supreme competition both within and without, not a glee club. A manager has to be able to lead and that is something that one has or does not have. You can hire a staff to do the technical stuff, you can get advise on the side line about in game tactics, but you have to be able to relate to people and have them respect your authority. There is no substitute for that and more importantly you cannot command it.
    There are individuals who are fantastic coaches but can never step up successfully to the no 1 job.

  • Morning all.
    Here are the results of the competition:-

    For the week:-
    1st Kev with 4/6 plus 4 bonus points
    2nd Gooneris with 3/6
    3rd Total & PB with 2/6
    4th JWL with 1/6
    Last GN5 with 0/6.
    Nobody got the correct score bonus between Chelsea & Spurs
    Season to date:-
    1st Kev with 46
    2nd Gooneris with 34
    3rd JWL with 31.33
    4th PB with 30.33
    5th GN5 with 30
    6th Total with 24

  • Yesterday’s match was a pity to watch especially the first half,lack of creativity and commitment from the team except Gabriel and Saka,if we continue to play like yesterday then soon we must fight not to be relegated instead of champions league place.

  • The sails hang dead, or they lift and flap like a cornfield scarecrow’s coat,
    And the seabirds swim abreast of us like ducks that play, a-float,
    And the sea is all an endless field that heaves and falls a-far
    As if the earth were taking breath on some strange, alien star,
    For there are miles and miles of weed that tramp around and ’round
    Till a fellow’s tempted to step out and try if it’s the ground.
    And, sometimes, when we strike a space that’s clear of wild sea-grass
    Our faces look up true and smooth as from a looking glass —
    For unwrinkled as a baby’s smile the ocean lies about
    And a pin would break in ripples if we only cast one out. . . .
    But the skipper isn’t happy for there’s not a wind that blows, —
    And beware the Mate’s belaying pin as up the deck he goes,
    For the ship, she’s rolling, rolling like a ##### on a spree
    And the cargo’s almost shifted as we wallow in the sea
    Because, out somewhere miles away a storm is waking hell. . . .
    And up smooth lifts of bubbling weed we ride the rolling swell. . . .
    Oh, each inch of us is crawling with the itch of prickly heat;
    We can hear our own blood throbbing like a Chinese tom-tom’s beat
    And we catch a voice that’s lifted, though it hardly seems in prayer —
    It’s the poor old cook that’s cursing in the boiling galley there. . . .
    Oh, the region of the doldrums, for the devil it was made
    And all decent seamen hate it as they pray for winds of trade
    As they flounder toward the trade-winds where the sails lift full and free
    And once more the prow runs onward foaming through the open sea.

    The Intertropical Convergence Zone, known by sailors as the doldrums or the calms because of its monotonous, windless weather, is where we find ourselves. We have been there before (mid 70’s with a 17th place finish). “For the devil it was made”, a ghastly hope draining place it be, but the “trade winds” of January are on the near horizon. Let us pray an eponymous Bergkamp onto the ships crew to once again see our prow “running onward foaming through the open sea…

  • I agree with a lot of things TA wrote, but I have a small and a major difference in opinion.
    The minor one is about the bad luck. Indeed the clash of heads didn’t help, but Wolves lost their main man too. The red card against Leeds was an unlucky factor and Aston Villa came with a lot of motivation and perfect tactics, but we are running out of excuses, and it’s not even December yet. On the other hand we had our fair share of luck, too. The penalty against MU was a justified yet a lucky one as Bellerin was nowhere near to a game-changing moment when fouled. The dismissal of Kovacic in the FA Cup final was similarly dodgy, and the injury to Pulisic prevented them to mean any threat to us.

    My main disagreement with TA’s post is on this point: “Arteta is fully aware about what’s wrong and needs changing”. I’m not sure he does understand that. At least my perception on the main problem with Arsenal is the lack of creativity, chance creation, key passes, you name it. We have discussed this before – in fact I wrote about it back in early August! – and seem to have an understanding. Yet it seems Arteta’s discipline doesn’t allow Ceballos to venture forward and exploit his creativity, even though he plays in the Spanish national team in a more attacking role, and I can’t imagine he has the “license to hunt”, but rather decides not to, thus sabotaging the coach. And if Mikel expects the missing creativity from Willock, then we see things very differently. (In my view Joe is a great guy, a muscular athlete who is good at pressing, but so far he played well against largely inferior opponents only. He got his chance against 2 mid-table teams, and didn’t perform at the required level [1 shot, 2 dribbles, no key passes in 150+ minutes], but even his biggest fans won’t consider him a particularly creative player.)

    I think Arteta believes that 6 key passes are plenty for a game, we just need to be more clinical (as we won against West Ham even though they had 9 key passes. He benched/disqualified our only real creative player (with an untrue explanation, but let’s not reopen the Ozil chapter just yet), and he didn’t give the only other creative player – Emile Smith-Rowe – the proper opportunity to get fitness, experience and confidence in the Europa League. And let’s not forget, he didn’t (push the club to) sign any creative player, although we had Aouar, Coutinho and others on the table. This is a dilemma in my eyes: either Arteta doesn’t value creativity, or he simply doesn’t understand it.
    I’m not a perfectionist; I don’t think conceding a goal against Leicester, Aston Villa or Wolves is a sin. Not scoring 3 ‘in retaliation’ is.

    I have no problem giving Arteta till the end of the season. We provided the same courtesy to Emery, while he didn’t win anything with the club nor came he from Arsenal ranks. If he believes we have to go back in our path to find a better or more suitable solution, he has my trust and patience – so far. But there is a good chance we have different opinions on what is wrong with our play (and not the players, as the same or lesser team had magical moments in the past few seasons), and his countermeasures are not seem to be working.

  • Thanks HH, I can see your point re lack of vision. As I see it, Arteta got himself a good mix of youngsters, experienced players and core players who are likely to become the backbone of the team in the next few years (Leno, Gabriel, Tierney, Bels?, Partey. The experienced players (Auba, Laca, Willian, Xhaka, Luiz, Elneny, etc) will gradually leave and be replaced by both evolved youngsters and new buys.

    The issue is that the current mix of players is not gelling around Arteta’s footballing philosophy as yet. It is not looking pretty right now and I think Arteta knows that he has to make changes to save his career at Arsenal. I think he will need to do a bit of option 3 and then decide to tweak his approach or go for something he know he will get the buy -in from the team for.

  • Cheers Maxcat, talking to your leaders and genuinely taking their views into account is an established form of leadership. This does not mean that Arteta would not have the final responsibility as to how we will play, but buy in of your key players is worth a lot.

  • Powerful poem, SNA. “monotonous, windless weather, is where we find ourselves” so true. A win against the Spuddies would send us on our way big style! 🙂

  • PB, every team/game encounters elements of luck and bad luck. There is no doubt in my mind that the the clash of heads worked against us psychologically. It does not mean that Wolves were just lucky, but I was merely pointing out that it could have gone differently yesterday.

    Re your big point…. Arteta knows more about football than you and me together is all I am saying. So to say that you are not sure he does understand what is wrong and needs changing I find simply bizarre.

  • Here are my selections for this weekends games

    West Ham v Manchester United
    Chelsea v Leeds
    Sheffield United V Leicester
    Tottenham v Arsenal
    Liverpool v Wolverhampton
    FC Koln v Vfl Wolfsburg

    We now have a target to aim for – but Kev’s always on the move – so he’s elusive.

  • PB, re Ceballos, he has no defensive awareness and I agree that if he has to play he should play in the hole area. Problem is, and you as a stats man will understand this, he simply seldom or never scores and his assists tally is poor too. He can pick a pass, I give you that but so could Mesut and much better than the Spaniard, yet much more is required.

    Re Willock, it is true that he is also struggling to make it at PL level at the moment but he is also three years younger than Ceballos and one from the youth ranks. So I think we should support him for a bit..

  • It is indeed bizarre, TA.
    But just for the sake of discussion, what would you need in order to come to my conclusion?
    Don’t get me wrong, I sincerely hope I’m not right, and I don’t intend to persuade you, as your opinion is (at least) as good as mine. My theoretical question merely aims whether there is any chance at all for you to reconsider your ‘Arteta knows’ stance. Or is it more of an axiom than conclusion of evidence?

    I have no doubt that last night could have gone differently. I don’t think Arsenal is a lesser team than Wolves; on the contrary. And we probably agree that the best way to win the title (or get to the top 4 places) is to maximize the chance that the 90 minutes of stochastic events and the overall balance of luck turn out in our favor. For the line-up point of view I think Arteta did his best (while I doubt Willock has a place in our best XI yet, his inclusion was justified based on his past EL performance), but I’m not sure he got the strategy or motivation right. As the difference between the 2 teams were not only the luck of their goals, but we never really pressured Patricio (apart from his own doing). So maybe we were unlucky that the clash of heads led to Luiz assessing some situations sub-optimally, but I wouldn’t have been completely satisfied with a 1:1 draw, and we seemed to be in need of luck ourselves to break down Wolves’ defense.

  • He will always know more about football than you and me, PB. It would be arrogant to think anything else. The idea, for example, that he does not know about the importance of creating a large number of chances is nonsensical to me. Of course he does. He is trying to find a balance in this team and to implement his vision, style of play etc. It is not working well at the moment and if we were to see no improvement over time then there will be no other option than to let him go. But he will always know more about football than you and me and everybody else on BK together.

  • I agree with your assessment on Caballos, TA.
    My answer would be that ever since we don’t have/deploy an attacking midfielder our engine is ‘excused’ from scoring AND assisting. Back in the day we had Vieira capable of darting runs, and we had Fabregas who was a constant danger even as a CM, Cazorla who was an equal magician with the ball and a visioary with his eyes. But recent years consider Xhaka, Ceballos, Elneny, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Oxelade-Chamberlain, Flamini, even Arteta himself… Only Ramsey was exception to the rule that assisting and scoring are the duties of the wingers and strikers, and his goal contributions are sorely missed.

    However I think Ceballos could be closer to the #8 box-to-box midfielder role than Willock, but something holds him back. And I have no better explanation than the discipline as he he is known to be able to play more dangerously, but apparently Mikel expects the creativity coming from elsewhere.
    Playing Partey box-to-box could be an option both in a midfield duo and in 4-3-3, but he needs to be fit to test this…

  • I have also high hopes that Partey will be the difference. A midfield of XhakA-Partey-Willian is worth giving a try. Fingers crossed Partey will be available soon. 😊⚽

  • I was going to do an analysis but yesterday and today everyone hear has covered it so well, and I have nothing better to add. I noted yesterday, those 2 sloppy goals we gave up are uncharacteristic for us under Arteta and I suspect the error was leaving Luiz on after the clash of heads. Can’t prove that he might have been positioned or reacted differently (which would have affected Bellerin, Gabriel and everyone else’s movements), but it goes against our recent pattern of defense. I’ll say it again, forget the Physios stupid tests, use your eyes Mikel. An impaired CB is the worst thing you can have. Him coming off at the half is more evidence that I’m right.

    That’s a one time error and no use crying over spilt milk. I wish these bad performances were as easy to get past. I expect a sort of war of attrition against Mourinho next. I think that’s how we’ll need to play it. He’s got them playing their best football in a long time.

  • Hey J, agreed re Luiz staying on. That was a poor decision. Against the Spuds we need to sit back and force them to make the game. They will hate that.

  • Thanks TA for this chance to shore up the sandbags.
    From my vantage? With the exception of the opener vs Fulham– we have caught nearly every opponent either playing their best (respective) football of the early season (SHU, WHU, LIV, MCI, AVL)– or executed tactics precisely (LEI, MUN, LEE) which stymied Arsenal on-pitch, and Arteta tactically. Wolves with the collision, playing a back-4 were costly factors. Yet? Arsenal were able to win 3 and draw one on a bare minimum of GF vs GA.

    Thomas, a player we brought in to solidify our MF was first great, then marginalized, now injured– in consecutive appearances since arrival.

    All of this said? It’s simply not time to get skittish about Arteta.

    I’ll stick to my guns and restate that a 3-5-2 might have kept us safer in defense. Also, I’d like to see Bukayo pulled back from LW to a WB spot. His ability to put the ball in the box in attack and run at defenders is much more limited up front. It would also allow us to get AMN on the pitch. What the hell happened to the dynamic, athletic player we saw emerge over the Summer? Key to many of the strategic successes– he’s become the Invisible Man.

    Recall, shortly after the start of the 2017 season, Wenger realized his teams were just better in a 3-5-2. As hard as it was for him to admit it– he made the switch and squeezed out one more FA Cup with it. Presently, Arsenal do not have the best defenders to play a back-4. Bellerin iffy, and Luiz and Holding are exposed in space. We can’t put our best athletes on the pitch a majority of the time in a back-4. Arteta needs to bite the bullet and go back to a 3-5-2 to create space up front for our attackers to do what they do best: Run at goal from balls played over the top. That’s the type of passers we have. Tierney, Luiz, Saka, Gabriel.

    If I were able to impart one bit of advice upon Mikel Arteta? Settle on a first-XI and use the 3-5-2 through this Festive period. Give his team something solid they know. A formation to stay grounded upon.


  • Believe me fellas, I’d be delighted to be bottom of the pile if Arsenal could win a few Premier League games.

  • Here goes:

    West Ham vs Man Utd… A
    Chelsea vs Leeds Utd…… H
    Sheff U vs Leicester……… A
    Tottnum ca Arsenal……… H
    Liverpool vs Wolves…….. H
    FC Koln vs Wolfsburg….. D

  • Here goes:

    West Ham vs Man Utd… A
    Chelsea vs Leeds Utd…… H
    Sheff U vs Leicester……… A
    Tottnum vs Arsenal……… H
    Liverpool vs Wolves…….. H
    FC Koln vs Wolfsburg….. D

    I obviously hope I’m wrong

  • West Ham vs Manchester United… D
    Chelsea vs Leeds United…… H
    Sheffield U vs Leicester……… A
    Tottenham vs Arsenal……… D
    Liverpool vs Wolves…….. H
    1. FC Köln vs Wolfsburg….. A

  • Cheers JW,

    I think you have a good point about referring back to 3-5-2 and I favoured this myself for a while. 4-3-3 is a tough system to play in the PLand we have not enough quality in certain positions for it, whereas we do have good players to make 3-5-2 work.

  • West Ham v Manchester United: draw
    Chelsea v Leeds: away
    Sheffield United V Leicester: draw
    Tottenham v Arsenal: AWAY 🤩🤩🤩
    Liverpool v Wolverhampton: home
    FC Koln v Vfl Wolfsburg: home

  • West Ham v Manchester United – A
    Chelsea v Leeds – H
    Sheffield United V Leicester – A
    Tottenham v Arsenal – A
    Liverpool v Wolverhampton – H
    FC Koln v Vfl Wolfsburg – D

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