What a roller-coaster season we are witnessing. One week we are full of hope and the next one we are down in the dumps again. I am blessed to have so many level-headed readers on BK and this keeps me going. Looking at some of the other blogs and social media just gives me the shivers and makes me want to support my team on my own; is it a reaction to the C19 crisis or are Arsenal supporters the same spoiled prats as anywhere else? 😦
Luckily, this is not needed because of the fine blogging community established here over the last nine years. I welcome honest opinion and we really do not have to agree all; something that happens seldom here anyway. But the ability to look at the bigger picture and the ‘primal’ desire to be supportive of the team and manager are vital for healthy, positive blogging. So thank you all for doing this on here.
There is nothing else to say about our dire loss v Pool than that we were pants. Arteta and his boys did not do the shirt proud. I think there are mitigating factors at play, though. The first game after an international period is always a bit of a gamble. Fitness is hard to assess and there is little time to prepare for a game with the first team. The same goes of course for Pool but they are a much more established team than we are; Arsenal, on the other hand, are in transition under Arteta and this was once again obvious on Saturday.
Then there were a number of key, unexpected injuries before and during the game that set us back. An established team can deal with this better I think, but realising quite late into proceedings that both Xhaka and Luiz will not be available was a big blow for the team and our style of play. Both are the key passers from ‘out of the back for us’, and Granit is vital for setting out Arteta’s game strategy. He was really missed. Holding did relatively well imo, but the lack of a protective wall in front of the defence was obvious. Pool had nothing to fear in midfield as Partey was left too isolated and is still looking for form and fitness anyway.
Furthermore, Arteta knew he had to do without two of his strongest ball passers, ESR and Saka; but to then also miss out on Luiz and Xhaka was a big blow. Auba and Pepe are players who do not really fit into Arteta-ball but one of them can normally be accommodated, somehow. They have individual qualities that can make a difference, but ideal for what Mikel wants to do they are not. And then came the injury to KT and all at once our left side missed two important players for such a difficult game, and it simply was too much.
On paper it still looked like a good team but a) Pool are a good team and played well on the night and b) the 11 that started just struggled to play the way Arteta had planned for. Still, I would have liked to have seen more fight from a number of players and I am sure Arteta really was not happy with them. This is also part of a transitional season. The summer will see a lot of goings and some quality comings.
For me, any judgement of the season just has to wait till all games have been played. We had a bad spell before Christmas and just a couple of wins back then would have us close to the European footie places now. I still feel we will get a good run together and end up about 3-5 places higher than where we are now. There is also good hope that we can progress to the next round in the Europa League.
Arteta is juggling between his ideal style/vision of football and the players he has at his disposal. We have a good squad but not all can play the sort of football Arteta has promised the BoD he will bring to Arsenal, that much is clear to all of us. And then, a few too many injuries do really set us back still. So let’s hope for quick recoveries of our key players and a consistent run of good form and games. All to play for. COYGs.