Now Is the Time to Sign up Arteta for Five Years: Arsenal v MC Afterthoughts

Another ‘week of three games’ saw us win emphatically against Leeds, draw against Benfica – when we deserved more – and lose narrowly against Pep’s Northern Oilers. What it tells us is that we continue to be a team in progress; that we are not yet a team that can perform on a high level all the time. The problem is that after such a good performance against Leeds our hopes, and with that our expectations, are raised instantly. And then they come crashing down when we lose to the league leaders at our own home of football.

I don’t think we should feel too bad about not winning and also not about our performance. After playing in Rome on Thursday, our second game of the week, we were just not going to be able to put in a 200% team performance needed to beat Man City in their current form. Yet it was a hard game to watch. The team selection did not work. A rusty Tierney and Holding were caught napping early on, and before we knew it Arsenal were one goal down. After that the team played with good organisation and discipline but this came at a cost. We lacked fire in the belly and our passing lacked both precision and determination. It was like looking at 11 players who had their drinks spiked.

Tierney – who cannot be spiked because he is from Wishaw, Scotland – and Holding came into the game pretty soon and produced good performances for the remainder of it. In fact, Kieran was our best player in the first half with his unstoppable drive forwards. The inclusion of Pepe did nothing for the team and I was also disappointed with the combo of Xhaka and Elneny. Mo looked rusty to me and was chasing the game a lot, and Xhaka was pressed back too much by the excellent MC midfield. Odegaard was clearly finding his feet and Auba struggled to keep hold of the ball or produce a half-decent pass. We looked disjointed when we attacked and that was the only thing I found really disappointing.

We let the baby blue Mancs dictate the tempo and were not able to hold on to the ball for more than a second. This made us look poor going forwards even though we managed to keep them from scoring again.

Still, we know that Arteta is working on the team and he had to make some changes from the last two games. Mikel knows that he cannot afford to make more than one, maximum two changes to the ‘core-11’ as things stand. It just leads to a drop in performance straightaway. It shouldn’t of course as all players who started yesterday are good enough to give the league leaders a game all right, but Arteta has too many players who are good but do not really fit into the way he wants the team to play. Players need to be comfortable with the ball in tight spaces, have a good first touch and pass it well. We have a number of those players but the likes of Auba, Pepe, Bellerin and a few others – some of them currently on loan – just do not cut the mustard. That does not mean they are bad players but for Mikel and Arsenal a bespoke system of football is key to success, and in our first eleven we just cannot carry too many who are not good with the ball in tight spaces. On Sunday, we played too many of those sorts of players (Mari and Elneny are okay but not great either – they are squad players).

Arteta had of course no choice as our coming game against Benfica is a must win game and he needs the likes of ESR, Luiz, Big Gab, Ceballos, Soares and (hopefully) Laca to be fully fit and ready for the fight. Gradually, he will be able to build a team with the right sort of players – and oh boy did we miss Partey yesterday – so we have a squad that can perform well in all three games of a week like this.

If we take the long perspective we can be confident that Arteta is on the right path. Well I am. I am loving what he is doing with the team even though it is hard to take in some of our performances at times. I say now is the time to support Mikel and give him a contract extension. Sign him up for five years BOD!

By TotalArsenal.

27 thoughts on “Now Is the Time to Sign up Arteta for Five Years: Arsenal v MC Afterthoughts

  • 😂😂😂 progress? Down to 10th and having played more than those around us. Progress?, out if both cups early. Progress?, alienating Ozil Guendouzi Saliba. Progress? Buying and persisting with Willian. Progress? Selling all your back up left backs.
    What have we progressed in? Well?

  • Your summations are a joy to read Total.

    The team clearly has a long way to go and the current squad can never hope to be og the caliber of Man City.
    Frankly City’s first 20/30 minutes was some of the best football I have seen and in that form they will take a lot of beating.

    Our team have several players that will be or are close to being world class but we have a mixture of apples and pears and not one or the other.

  • I wish you lived up to your name silentstan.

    It’s obvious that it will take several seasons for Arteta to get the players he wants and gets them playing his style of football.Try recognizing that we are not where anybody would like us to be – but that’s no reason to throw a hissy fit.

  • N5 😆 on the last comment.

    Stan, we are going through a major rebuild, and there are plenty of bright spots to move into the next season with. Just think for a moment. Start from the back… Gabriel, Holding, Tierney, Cedric, Mari…Maybe Saliba next season.. all working better than what we had before. Midfield, admittedly we need to improve, but we added one good one in Partey. 2 more are needed. Up front Martinelli, ESR, and obviously Saka best of all. That’s progress even though there are disappointing things that you pointed out.

    TA, you see we are happy with your excellent observations without numbered ratings attached.
    Gooners perspective can be a little warped. Not remembering the way City is rolling every team they play. If not for the early mistake, we might have been hanging close to the end, with a chance to draw or steal a win. Would have been different prospect without them taking an early lead… that changes the whole dynamic in any game, let alone against flying Man City.

    I feared Ødegaard wouldn’t be ready for the intensity that Man City brings. There’s nothing like that in Spain that he could’ve faced to prepare him. I still think that Elneny was the way to go. Peps teams can make anyone look rusty.

    We can honestly say that there will be no possible way to be positive if we don’t get past Benfica in two legs though. Arteta already said it’s like a final this Thursday.

  • Good comment, J.

    It did indeed look like Odegaard was struggling to deal with the intensity of the game but who other than Saka did he have to pass the ball to(and keep hold of it)?

  • Silentstan was indeed more confronting than absolutely necessary, but he clearly has a point.

    What is so special in this campaign that calls for a contract extension?
    Last year’s FA Cup victory was clearly a one-time gig (which is something that cannot be expected every year anyway), and while this season is not (yet) a total disaster we are low on memorable points as well. Besides being genuinely nice to show support for the manager, what would signing him up achieve or demonstrate?

    Let’s assume that by the end of the season Arsenal ends up at the 8-9th place. We will beat Benfica and survive the next round against Dinamo Zagreb, but eventually loose in the quarter final against AS Roma or Bayer Leverkusen. What makes any of you sure that this is the right direction? Or that is beyond the performance Emery could have achieved?

    I’m not trying to be nitpicking here, I’m genuinely interested if Mikel Arteta did convince everybody (anybody) that he is the ideal future manager for Arsenal, or is it rather a general concept to give the head coach a long term contract and a lot of cash to rebuild the team, but this guy could be anybody from David Moyes through Sam Allerdyce to Freddie Ljungberg.

    I agree with TA that losing against City was practically inevitable (the 0:1 is probably flattering) and there is a long progress needed until Arsenal will have a significant chance to come out on top of such challenges. So we shouldn’t be so sad about the defeat at all, but the Benfica game will be a tough second leg, where a victory is a must have, and a defeat would prove to be a piss-poor managerial performance.
    I don’t want this point to focus on Saka at all, just really an example here: him playing al the 450+ minutes in the last 5 games could be a good decision in hindsight and even though we won only 2 games in February Bukayo played quite well, but at the moment Martinelli is not cruising, Pepe is not any more, Willian is not yet in form. Maybe that will be enough against the Portuguese team, but we should only give credit to somebody, if we are willing to hold the same person accountable as well. Silentstan is tending towards the latter, but the hymns on Arteta are all about the credits…

    Mikel and the boys have to find the balance on Thursday, but we have to do the same when evaluating their and the manager’s performance.

  • PB, I guess that I’ve witnessed so many Arsenal teams and managers over the years that were absolutely horrible to watch and had no hope of going anywhere! – yet I still supported my team through those many years in the wilderness. Today I see a spark in Arteta and his ability to motivate a squad that are less than top class that I feel encouraged by his man management and ability to get more out of less.

    He has only had two transfer windows to make additions and deletions to his squad and at a time when transfer funding has been very scarce due to having the cash flow being destroyed by Covid restrictions.

    Current results are not what they need to be – but nor is the squad at Arteta’s disposal – so the only only answer is time and patience. How could anybody possibly think that another manager could do better than Arteta with the current squad? The only way up is with some subtle additions and I believe that both Arteta and the management team are up to the task.

  • PB, progress is not only measured in table position or silverware. In fact this can be misleading. I can tell Arteta is building something special and we are making progress in a planned, incremental way. What is the biggest risk now? Arteta being lured away. Sign him up.

    I didn’t think that any of Silent’s questions was relevant.

  • PB, pretty fair in general. I criticize Arteta more than most here. FA cup was nice but we’re looking for more respectable performance in the league now, like at least competing for top 4. I won’t list them all, but I’ve mentioned many things from Arteta I’ve disagreed with.

    On your points, I do worry about overworking Saka. A journalist at the city game said Pepe was working his tail off though it wouldn’t be so noticeable on tv. He was not effective going forward, neither was anyone else. I like the fact that we defend solidly and have a chance in games vs clubs like United and Chelsea, where in the past we underperformed habitually.

    Another reason I’d stick with Arteta right now is simple continuity. Some of those qualities of strength and hard work are at least a starting point. I also don’t see who’s out there to come and definitely do better. What big name would come with our budget restrictions anyway.
    With Emery, i tried to be patient, but i really felt there was a language barrier in the way of communicating with the players.

    On the Europa comments… we played well against Benfica but blew many good chances. I can’t really blame a manager for that. Also the teams you mentioned… I think we’d have a chance against. I do think the odds are strongly against us winning the competition this year especially.

  • TA good post moving away from PR to a more nuanced one. Let me state my disappointments of the city game.
    1. We paid them way too much respect. Look if we had lost 2-1 I am ok. The confidence of scoring against a team like Manc would have been immense. Honestly though if we had gone on for another hour we wouldnt have scored. Here in lies my beef. We practically don’t score from corners or from outside the box. I don’t think this season we have scored from a corner may be one if my memory serves right.
    2. Everyone hates Mo but he is what we have got and he is not the one sitting on big money contract. He is doing what is he is good at and has no pretensions about it. But what about others i mean Auba is embarrassing. He adds nothing to teh team build up. You watch him everytime he comes short to collect a ball or marked he gives the ball back to the person who passed to him. Yesterday the no of times he was pushed by John stones was sad.
    3. The baisc techniques of personnel in this team is an embarrassment to Arsenal who under Wenger was always known tk be technically very good. You look at the academy products like Saka and ESR thier control of the ball in tight situations vs others shows the legacy of this club. Professional footballers can’t do basics like controlling teh ball, passing to a te am mate, taking a man and getting beyond him. I mean common this is akin to an accountant not knowing if a transaction is a debit or a credit would he have survived in his profession?
    Grant it to Arteta the defence has improved but his handling of youngsters is much to be desired. I fear Gabi is gone end of this season of he doesn’t play much.

  • Cheers Madhu, fair criticism of Arteta. I think 1) everyone shows Man City respect right now, 2) Auba has his limitations but he makes up for it in a different starting 11, and 3) Arteta is working on technical ability and the youngsters who have got it, get a chance, including Martinelli who clearly has lost form in recent months.

    It is a work in progress.

  • Well written and balanced post Total – after a couple of days of reflection.

    Funnily enough I wasn’t doing handstands after the Leeds game, conceding two goals told me that there’s still many things that need addressing and the upgrading of the squad is one of them, having say 16/18 players who when we see them come into the team that we don’t see any drop in the performance level.

    I agree completely with your assessment of Tierney and Holding, but it’s something that Rob has to work on because he was caught flat footed. I thought that it was Odegaard’s least effective game and we missed Smith Rowe again.

    I like Odegaard, he looks a proper footballer to me but let’s see how the next few weeks pan out because I suspect that Real Madrid are going to ask a serious fee for Martin, not the £25m often quoted, probably twice that and more and he needs to show that he’s worth it because we can’t afford anymore mistakes.

    Selling players next summer is going to be as important as signing them because Stan ain’t putting any dough in even if it’s a great time to get a loan, so Edu needs to generate funds big time.

    I’m optimistic about the future because we have more young talent that can do a ‘Smith Rowe’ next season and I’m talking about the lads who’ve been out on loan all season, like John Jules, Olayinka etc.
    Preseason is going to be an eye opener for Mikel because he’ll finally have them all together at the same time and he can make a proper decision about whose in and whose not…

  • Many comments could be made about the current Arsenal style. Pep G’s so called protege, Arteta is made out to be some sort of expert on football. Right-footers playing on the left side and vice versa, rotational fouling in midfield (Pepe’s ManCity), suicidal passing in the back third, players in attack running to the near post, possessional or is it re-cycling play which puts one to sleep, and the list could go on. Side to side and back to back. Pep gets away with this rubbish because he has two teams of expensive/quality footballers who can adapt to this nonsense. Arteta has fallen into such a managerial trap and overcoaches our team to the extent creative and instinctive players like Pepe and Martinelli and let us hope not eventually Saka and ESR will never reach their true potential. Mediocre players like Zhaka and El Nene (probably a good clubman but second rate footballer) are played in midfield roles when really not of Arsenal quality. Zhaka disrespected our shirt and fans and should never have been allowed to wear our badge again. The signing of Villan was a bad decision based upon profile and especially performances. Imagine the response if he played like that in front of an Emirates full house. Backwards and nowhere but supposedly he’s technical and gets back. Laughable!

    It all comes down to where we expect our club to be. I want them to be consistent but adventurous and to strive to win the Champions League. There is a lot of potential but really a far different approach is required. Arteta needs to see this or unfortunately shown the door. The current style may be shown for what it is over the next month. I hope I’m wrong and will be glad to be so. I hope I’m wrong but I think the several good moments and results in the new year have been due to the players finding themselves in positions rather than the coaching. The defense has improved but our attack has been a serious underachiever. Let the guys play with less restrictive conditions. Tolerate guys like Saliba and Guendouzi. Search for a powerful striker who can hold up play and is strong in the air.

  • @Ian, i am with you on this, about Arteta’s overthinking of tactics and coaching of the team. Coupled with poor footballing intelligence across the team i wonder how many players will even understand what he is saying to them. Few of them can understand him but not sure about the majority.
    Having said that there are other areas that i don’t see any improvement at all. For me the most glaring are the Corners and Set pieces, we just don’t seem to be dangerous at all.

  • Thanks TA for the piece and the idea. We both agree on MA, and the need for longer-term vision. I’m astounded at the end-of-nose commenting regarding what Arteta ‘hasn’t’ accomplished in 14 months. An FA Cup from a sow’s ear ain’t nothin’. Arteta has pointed a way back from the smoldering heap of Emery and Sanllehi’s incompetencies in a year’s time. The defense, once a clown car act, has been commendable, with joint-second least GA this season. Despite a rotation of CBs that have had little on-pitch time to gel.

    My only real complaint about Arteta’s tactics versus City? Simple, but obvious to me. Why were Saka and Pepe lined up on the opposite sides– from where both had recently been their best? Whatever MA’s reasoning, it occurs both player’s spatial perception changes dramatically when swapped. That one decision diminished the team’s chances to score, to take a point perhaps.

    Though I’d like to see more consistency, I for one, am willing to accept the growing pains of a first-time, first-year manager. In a perilous time (in so many ways), Arteta has re-instilled order from disorder. Helped to mend traditional aspects of the club, which appeared to be slipping over a horizon. Sparked hope.

    I’ve supposed before that Arsenal might be in a better place now– had Arteta been hired instead of Unai Emery. Though entirely likely as well, that situation may have devolved by now with Raul’s shortcomings and power-first tendencies.

    For me, there is no other manager better suited for rebuilding Arsenal for the long term than Mikel Arteta.

    Extend him.

  • Ian, if you are expecting us to win the CL right now then i can understand your disappointment.

    Please spell Xhaka correctly if you want me to take you seriously. Granit was treated beastly by the so called supporters, and his response was warrented. There is no current Gunner who has been more loyal to the club. Respect.

  • You put it in a nutshell for us, Kev.

    Re Odegaard, I make a judgement at the end of the season, but I think ESR is what Mikel really wants. There’s a subtle but important difference between them I think 🤔

  • I totally agree with JW1. Madhu, I think that the players are understanding MA, we see much better structure and performance under MA than Emery if not always better results. The defence, in particular, is a good example of that. Under Emery all the team seemed to be running around like headless chickens. The issue is that some key players like PEA and Willian are not delivering. We would all be feeling a lot more optimistic if PEA had put away all of his chances against Benfica. I agree with what you say about set-pieces recently which is concerning because immediately after we got the new coach from Brentford we saw an improvement. I hate it when we take short corners and get pushed back with our big defenders having to rush back it is such a waste.

  • The whole Qatar World Cup scenario stinks, right from the bribery used to win the vote, through to the crazy effects it has on the many leagues across the world compromised by the need to change fixtures to fit in with a winter World Cup (I believe that that is still the case) all the way to the lack of care afforded the migrant workers, it’s a bloody scandal the whole thing.

    I could care less about it and I could care less about Euros, which should have been cancelled to protect the players health.

    Where are the PFA’s from across europe?
    Why are they looking out for their members health?

  • I agree the set pieces are an issue. All freekicks should be taken by either Xhaka or Saka. Corners…. better delivery required and better practice, I guess.

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