Kieran and Thomas Out: Time for Arteta’s Trump Card and a Switch for Saka?

No Tierney and possibly no Partey for a while…. are we in trouble?

If we are going to miss both players for a month or more it will certainly affect us. Both add a lot in terms of Arteta’s style of play and game plans, and they also really add personality and experience to the team.

But these things happen to all clubs and there are suitable replacements within the squad. The squad is of course not thin but some will argue we lack depth in certain areas. We obviously have to see how things go and it may take a bit of time before the direct replacement – most likely Tavares and Lokonga – have fully settled. Furthermore, Arteta can make tactical adjustments to still get the quality that we have in the squad come to the fore again. With Brighton (H) and Southampton (A) away up next, Arteta has an opportunity to get it right gradually whilst hopefully not drop points in the process.

Option 1: replace Tierney and Partey with Tavares and Lokonga or Elneny – rest unchanged. Xhaka likes working with Elneny as they played together many times in the past, but Lokonga offers more to our attacking efforts. Xhaka will have to sit deeper than recently to get the best out of him and Lokonga can be the one who pushes up more.

Options 2: Bring in Holding and push Gabriel to the left. This should be an easy adjustment to make, especially if Xhaka sits deep on the left to support the left side of defence when required.


Soares, Ben, Hold, Gab


(Rest as usual)

Option 3: play three at the back and use our best player, Saka, as left back in midfield. As a left footer Saka brings a lot to the team and our left side would be very strong from an attacking point of view. Our right side would need fixing but Pepe, ESR or Martinelli can all play there.


Ben – Holding – Gab

Soares – Eln/Lok – Granit – Saka

ESR/Pepe – Laca/Ode – Mart/Pepe

I believe these are the main options but maybe Arteta or you will come up with another one?!

<> at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England.

I think we should stick with Tavares, who clearly is work in progress but also a ferocious talent. Our next two games should give him an opportunity to settle and with Granit deeper in midfield he should feel a lot more comfortable. But I also like the thought of now introducing fab Rob into the defence, either in a three or four at the back. There is a winner in Holding and this might be the time for Mikel to use his trump card.

We are well covered for Partey, with either Lokonga or Elneny ready to step in. They are not as good as Thomas but will do a more than decent job against most PL teams. Hopefully, the Ghanaian will be back when we have to face Manure and the skinny-chicken-on-a-ball team.

Let’s see what will happen over the next game(s).

What would you do?

By TotalArsenal.

91 thoughts on “Kieran and Thomas Out: Time for Arteta’s Trump Card and a Switch for Saka?

  • Johnny goes for a job.
    The manager says “It’s £7.30 an hour, but goes up to £12.50 after 6 months. When can you start?”
    “In about 6 months” says Johnny

  • Nice post Total, It looks like even with the loss of two big players we still have good options.It’s in times of adversity that the rest of the squad has to step up and make themselves known.

  • Thanks TA, nice look at how we might need to re-shape after a long and successful period of formational stability.

    Option 1: seems least disruptive tactically but risky, given the loss of defensive capability in midfield and left-back. I would expect Arteta not to consider this until Tomiyasu is fit again. Then, however, it allows us return to an asymmetric set-up with the left-back bombing forward that suits Tavares.

    Option 2: I can’t see that. Big Gabi isn’t a left back in my view. Arteta will rather play Xhaka there and we need him in midfield.

    Option 3: Yes, I think that is a good way forward and may not even require Saka to switch to left-back since it provides enough defensive cover on the left for Tavares to have a relatively free role going forward without exposing us defensively. I have to admit that since his last showing, i have lost absolutely all confidence in Pépé ever snapping into place in this Arsenal team.

    Re midfield selection, I am definitely hoping for Sambi over Mo. Purely because Sambi is far stronger on progressive passes and shot creating actions than Mo. Especially if we are going with Option 3 on Saturday, Sambi is the righ choice imo.

  • Nice one TA, and no doubt it’s a conundrum some of us saw way back during Jan TW. My preference is to keep the shape and not chnage too much in the puzzle. The team and the coach is young to be able to change formations and yet deluwvr results. We see that too many changes disrupts the rythm and we end up dishing crap.
    So i would go with Nuno on left and Cedric on Right but bring more of Rob holding to close out games. The coach has to make sure Nuno is not broken. He is young and when played regularly is a decent back up at left back.
    I would go back to a double pivot of xhaka and Sambi. Mo to rotate for some playing time as I still see a red for xhaka somewhere. Mo has to be ready and that needs to be addressed.
    Rest of the positions remains same. Again I would like to see more of Eddie /Laca rotation and Pepe as well. Time to bring some changes in our CF play and rotate between Eddie/Laca/Pepe.
    Let’s see and I don’t make any bones that iam.very nervous about the next 9 games. Tahts the way iam.

  • CvK, great comment.

    Agreed opt two is is outside the box, and I don’t know whether Gabriel would make a good left back. Xhaka as left back is indeed no option with Partey out as well.

  • I get your point about Sambi over Elneny. I like them both but stability is key. I think there is a chance to play both Emile and Martin ahead of Mo and Granit and that would work a treat.

  • I would like to see Tavares get the nod and make the position his for the remainder of the season. We saw there was a player in him before the Liverpool mistakes and hopefully he can rediscover it. I also think Martinelli in front of him instead of ESR will help him out a lot more, he is much better at tracking back and also provides better options when in possession. If we want to see ESR back in this team it will have to be at the expense of Odegaard or perhaps in CM instead of Partey.

    Tavares just needs to put the liverpool/Forest/Palace games behind him and brighton is about the best game we could have picked to help kill those demons.

    As I said above either ESR or Lokanga instead of the big man is good for me. They can be interchanged depending on opposition or need to keep tight/score. They both offer very different but useful skill sets but are both great at linking the play. We may have to see Xhaka drop a bit deeper again to help out with these guys but I prefer that than seeing him at LB again.

    I feel a bit more like my usual(occasional) positive self.

  • Being nervous is understandable, Madhu. Just think that when those nine games are over we will not see them play for ages. So let’s enjoy every game.

  • That’s a good shout re Emile, Wedge. Playing him next to Xhaka or a bit ahead could give us something extra, but then Soares would have to play a bit more Conservative.

    Also agreed re Martinelli being better support for a full back than Emile.

  • Great comments to an apt post by TA. For me, I’d expect minimal changes to an already fragile squad, especially as we take the bend to the finish line. It is easier to experiment at the start of the season and jettison new ideas if they seem not to be working; but this close to the season, you need players to know their jobs and do them well from long practice.

    Again, despite the limitations and how hard it is to do in the heat of the games, plus seeing how every game has been crucial, Arteta must find ways to give the fringe players a run out towards the end of games, as often as possible. The more the players feel a part of what the team is achieving, the better they perform whenever called upon. Some will take being left out worse than others. Lokonga, Holding and Elneny look like players who are always ready to come on and perform with the right attitude, whenever called upon. Pepe, Cedric and Tavares, not so much. This problem is ameliorated when they are able to make cameo appearances in games as often as we can manage.

    In summary, we must continue the current formation (4 at the back) at the start of the games (3 at the back means sacrificing Ode’s role, anyways) and only change as the need arises towards the end of games, to close the games out or when chasing it. Secondly, Tavares has some qualities I think the team can use, as he showed when he had that long stint in the side, with Tierney still injured. He lost confidence when he he was dropped soon as Tierney was fit again; I did advise against that at the time, suggesting Tierney has to be made to fight to get his shirt back. He hardly did and that may have shattered young Tavares who looks like a confidence type player. Arteta says he’s spoken with him so, hopefully, that spurs him to make amends on Saturday. In midfield, it is a no-brainer for me that Lokonga should start alongside Granit Xhaka, who will now have to play deeper than he was while Partey was in his pomp. Only snag is the yellow card incidents would increase; Xhaka had maintained his discipline for the last 7 games or so, but it affected his normal game because he looked under instruction to avoid tackling. With Partey out and he having the job to protect the back 5, he will revert to type and pull back anyone who goes past him. Unless we have some other ingenious solution to who plays as DM, we must expect this scenario. Sambi Lokonga is too inexperienced for that job now, in my opinion and Elneny is more of a utility midfield player to me (like a fire fighting role, rather than a fixed DM role). So, it is down to Xhaka.

    Brighton are a good side but they are a team I’d rather have our boys to be playing, after that bruising defeat, and at home. We must give it our all and score as many goals as we get the opportunities to do.

  • Having said all that, Mikel Arteta hasn’t been the easiest manager to second guess, at times when changes to the side, in response to situations, are to be made. But, I shall trust in his judgment to see us into CL footie next season. Antonio Conte is a desperate man and Arteta has to match him in that regard.

  • Great comment,Eris. The problem may be that Arteta has not much confidence in Tavares’ ability to follow his tactical instructions. From the outside it looks like this and it may force him to make more changes than he/we would really want. I could be wrong but there seems to be a disconnect between the two.

  • Is anyone else enjoying the Thursday European footie more than the boring and predictable CL? Likely semifinalists of Madrid, Pool, Citeh and Bayern… Hopefully Villarreal will overcome the Germans but it is a big ask.

  • Yes, enjoying the CL very much and the Europa. Did you see Payet’s volley? Great to see Emery doing well. He was on a hiding to nothing at Arsenal coming after Arsene as he did. But he always struck me as a man of class and integrity.
    Benzema is astonishing, those two headers reminded me of Geoff Hurst. Who would you rather have up front at Arsenal, Benzema, Kane or Lewandowski? Young Darwin looked the business for Benfica v ‘pool.

    V Brighton: Aaron
    Cedric Ben Gab Nuno
    Martin Emile
    Bukayu Alex Gabriel

    Two number eights to take the game to the ‘gulls, Nuno needs another shot at redemption.
    GN5, where do I track the writings you alluded to?

  • Stuart, the CL has a groundhog day feel for me. It’s ruined by money and protectionism. But glad to hear you’re enjoying it.

    I prefer a younger CF at Arsenal to fit in with the rest. But all three are awesome of course.

  • Arsenal v Brighton H
    Southampton v Chelsea * 1-3
    Brentford v West Ham * 1-1
    Leicester v Crystal Palace H
    Manchester City v Liverpool * 2-1
    Empoli v Spezia D

  • Or you could move Ben White to RB and put holding at CB with Gabriel. Not saying cedric is a problem but 3 cb could help out with tavares issues.

  • Problem with that is we would have no reliable CB on the bench. Hardly the ideal scenario for any team.

  • Here are the official line-ups. Looks like Xhaka is at left back. Arteta sure likes to get the nerves wracked up…..

    Arsenal: Ramsdale, Cedric, White, Gabriel, Xhaka, Lokonga, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Saka, Martinelli, Lacazette

    Subs: Leno, Holding, Tavares, Ogungbo, Swanson, Elneny, Hutchinson, Pepe, Nketiah

    Brighton: Sanchez, Cucurella, Dunk, Bissouma, MacAllister, Trossard, Mwepu, Gross, Welbeck, Caicedo, Veltman

    Subs: Steele, Lamptey, Webster, Maupay, Lallana, Alzate, March, Offiah, Sarmiento

  • If our back up left back is not deemed good enough to play when our first choice can’t then that is a bad sign.

    I hope Arteta has made the right call here. Let’s try and get this game put to bed before 70 mins and give some minutes to the fringe squad.

  • Not liking this move from arteta. Xhaka needs to be in midfield to partner the inexperienced lokonga. This neutralises odegaard a little too.

    Xhaka at LB was a disaster at the end of last season. I wish he backed in tavares. Or brought in holding, pushed white to RB and moved cedric to LB.

    Only positive is we get to see ESR, marti, saka, and ode all run around causing havoc.

    Come on Arsenal. Capitalise on the manure stuff up.

  • We may be light in midfield but it certainly is an attacking lineup! Xhaka is a safe pair of hands at left back in a game like this and I look forward to seeing how the three in midfield work together.


  • A friend of mine who is watching said that xhaka went walkabouts for the goal. Not saying it is his fault as he is not a left back. The decision to play him out of position could really hurt us.

    We should still be good enough to get the win as Brighton are awful.

  • Just read that VAR took 5 mins to disallow our goal. If it takes that long then it must have been so close that attacker should get the advantage.

  • Well that’s a bummer. Next half will be the half of the season for Arsenal. We have to turn this round into a win and Arteta will have to make changes to the formation. By the sounds of it we are not dominating midfield and without it it will be hard to get going.

  • To be fair as soon as I saw the replay of it I felt Marti was offside. I would rather the right decision be made as if that was against us we would happily take the correct offside decision as well. One thing I have thought of for quite some time is would Elneny be any worse than the current options at the left and right back positions I am actually surprised that he has not been given a shot at it much like Ainsley was and going back many years ago Lauren got converted with a great degree of success. Its worth a try given his engine and defensive instincts.

    As has been pointed out already we might be better served having Xhaka next to Lokonga and Ode further up the field especially now that he is on a yellow card. Ode is also quite useful in the pressing game besides his creatively but is a lot less certain in the more defensive role in front of the back four.

  • Also I am not saying against us getting a lucky decision as we definitely could use some luck right now I meant to put across that VAR can be annoying when it takes too long but I am okay with it in general when the correct decision is made after such a review.

  • Marti palying as left back. What an innovation while laca still ploughs on and trips owvr and falls as CF.

  • I am very impressed with Trossard I got to watch him more if he is this good got to be on the radar of some other teams

  • Not sure why you wouldnt throw Pepe on for Laca now he has been invisible

  • Mikel knows infinitely more about football than me but putting Granit at left back is the wrong choice I was never convinced and after moving him to midfield he somehow ends the game back there its a decision he wants to work but is stubbornly refusing to see what most can see.

  • I forgot to put my predictions up so I only get Sunday’s games.

    Brentford v West Ham * A (1-3)
    Leicester v Crystal Palace A
    Manchester City v Liverpool * A (0-2)
    Empoli v Spezia D

  • Oops these are Sunday’s games.

    Brentford v West Ham * A (1-3)
    Leicester v Crystal Palace A
    Manchester City v Liverpool * A (0-2)

  • Well that was bad.

    The decision to weaken the already weak midfield and play a CM at left back was such a poor decision on so many levels.

    I don’t realistically see how tavares can play for us any more. If he is deemed the 4th best left back in a team with 2 left backs then why is he here.

    Southampton getting spanked by Chelsea and watching Brighton beat us will probably spur them on to get a victory next week.

    On the plus side 6th is practically sewn up as utd are even worse than we are.

  • Cannot understand how can you give confidence to an youngster when you play a CM at left back and the jn second half you play a LW as LB. What kind of insanity is this. I don’t have works to explain that and to make one of the goal threats tk play at LB when we need two goals is inexplicable. Moreover Gabi had a goal disalaowed as well what mesage Gabi gets from that switch. The football again has become dull , dour and with no innovation. The exuberance and fearlessness of youth is sucked out of the team. The team actually reflects the dourness and dullness of our Captain.

  • Now that we have no form or luck it is time for a change.

    Arteta needs to earn his money and get this team firing again. We have to get results against everyone from now on. No more slip ups as we wasted our free hit today.

    We had form momentum and games in hand in our favour and now we have none of those things. We have the hardest run in and no world class strikers.

  • Looks bad on the table, no doubt. Can’t comment much as I couldn’t see the game; no outlet had it on, even on pay-per-view, here in Canada. Amazing how we get have the choice of every EPL game in Nigeria but have to struggle to find streams out in the West.

    Arteta has to rise up to the demands of his job now. Conte is desperate to get 4th and only a manager who matches that desperation will drive his team to get it.

  • I think Conte is exactly the sort of manager you would want in this situation. He has made 2 great January signings and has created an us against them sort of scenario at spurs again. He has seen it and done it all as well. Arteta will be a great manager and I hope he stays at arsenal and realises it here but I don’t think he is quite there yet. He is to stubborn and would prefer to look clever than do the obvious. Which is a trait he has no doubt picked up from pep, sadly we don’t have the team or resources to be that guy.

  • “Let’s hope Villa will do us a favour.”
    It’s not that easy. Arteta was outcoached big time twice in a row. No matter how hard Villa will try to outcoach Tottenham, it would need serious incompetence from Conte to succeed. I don’t see this coming.

  • The moment Conte started to play the mind games with our team, poking his nose into our affairs unsolicited, I knew he was wary of our progress and needed us to have a stutter or two. Whether that little tirade affected us or not, I’d never know, but we haven’t been our confident selves since.

    It is 0-4 to the Spurs, unexpectedly. It will be a sad day for Arteta and his management team. While our rivals appear to be flying and able to replace injured players, we seem to be crumbling. It is not all lost though. We can find some form again, hopefully, not too late.

  • Spurs are now looking like a team that people will fear and wont want to play against. We are looking like a team that people will relish and want to play against. These last fee defeats are chore damaging than just points, they are a window into our soft underbelly (still/again).

  • Feel bad for this young team and the knives will be out now for Arteta but no matter what people say the only opinion that matters is the Kroenkes on this one and i think they will stick with him. I can only hope the wages saved by moving all the deadwood out is supplemented with more cash to make another four or five signings as we are still far away in terms of both the starting and backup personnel. It was going to take a lot of luck to get away with such a small squad for the second half of the season and Spurs signings and their manager have really turned it up lately.

  • Also for me the points dropped from all the avoidable red cards have come back to bite us. We did have some controversial or outright unfair ones but we should have done better with what we could control. Hopefully Partey can come back and boost us before the season is out. Thanks to TA and this blog I can maintain some positivity so I will be able to shut out all other Arsenal coverage. I no longer listen to commentators during games as well so I can stomach this a little better than in the past Football is a nice break from all the madness in the world still so I am thankful for that.

  • Set backs are part of life. I am as unhappy as anyone tonight but we still need to apply perspective. Nothing is lost or won, eight games to go, and we can play much better than that.

    Brighton are a team that can do this to any team on the day, and we have to keep in mind that we are a team in progress. Setbacks are bound to happen.

    Arteta is our Man.

  • Spurs have pulled away on GD so it’ll take more than just beating them now to wrestle top 4 back. Really under the pump given how hard our run home is vs. theirs.

    Kulusevski has given them a shot of life – just like Arshavin did for us when he came in the January window. The difference between the two sides was always our better defending vs. their attack…we’ve dropped off thanks to injuries (Tomi and Tierney) and their front 3 (especially Son and Kane) can get them out of bad situations. That’s the reality unfortunately. Son and Kane are world class whereas we have a striker that hasn’t scored in open play for 18 matches now. That is a massive handicap when trying to fight it out for top 4.

    I’m a big fan of Arteta but he is really up against it now. The way I see it is:

    * Top 4: Arsenal finished higher than everyone thought = massive tick for Arteta. Big new contract. All aboard. Fingers crossed.
    * Europa league spots: Pass mark. Big transfer window for Arteta and Edu. Otherwise more fans could start turning on them.
    * No European competition (including European conference league in this): I doubt Arteta is kept on. The pressure will be on him after the big spending spree last year, not spending in Jan, and falling off at the end of the year. If this happens I think he is forced out or it puts us and him in a bad position going into the final year of his contract. If we don’t show the faith and he turns it around he could leave. If he stays and doesn’t it will reduce his lustre as a manager moving forward.

  • I didn’t blame Arteta for the Palace loss.. the boys came back from international games without their correct mindset and work ethic.

    The stupid Xhaka at LB killed us today in multiple ways. Far out of the play for the 1st goal…

    Not having him in midfield was huge, because people don’t realize how important he is there whether deep or advanced, we count on him… we rearranged the whole team and it was a mess really.

    We didn’t have anything from Martinelli down the left in the 1st half with Xhaka at fb.

    This loss is on Mikel, but thankfully he’s going to be extended anyway and I’m behind him.

  • If we dotn see the pattern in Artetas (mis)management then we deserve this. Where is the culture change if we don’t question Arteta and his management. We are deluded jf we think we are still in for 4 th place. We spent all the time mocking Conte and Spurs. Haven’t we learnt that sports is a great leveller. We will find it hard to get 5/6 th from here on. Please look at the faces of these youngsters. Look at Ode at the end of the game, he looked terriefies and his joy sucked out.
    Iam sorry to say but I was the greates fan of Gabi Martenelli now he seems to have regressed. His USP was the sheer unpredictability and directness near the box which he seems to have lost. Offcourse it doesn’t help if he is played as LB. As I see at the moment our young gems seems to have lost the joy. We had a chance to 4th and that would.have attracted top players to our club in summer TW, but with only Europa league at best we may struggle to achive our targets in TW. Make no mistake this is a serious setback to whatever the project was supposed to achive. Also note that the attractiveness of the club for youngsters will be questioned if we start jettisoning thier careers like with Salina, NuNo, Pepe etc. At the end of the day a Manager is trusted to get the best out of youngsters talent. It’s debatebale at this point of Arteta can do that.

  • I still think arteta is the guy for this project. I know he has made some mistakes but 6th is about where we should have finished and looks about where we will finish.

    As long as we get into Europa league we will be able to attract a proper striker and another good CM. We will be fine if we just don’t get sucked into the hype/depression of big wons/losses. This team was never going to be good enough to achieve top 4. We had a glimmer of a chance but we were not able to take it.

    Our big problem now will be the fact that all of out games now look tough. We still have to play Chelsea, Spurs Utd and West ham. I don’t see us beating any of them at the moment. I am not even confident of beating Southampton away.

  • @wedge

    I think arteta is the guy too. However, he is guilty of being a little too naive with where the squad is at. Tierney and Partey are our most injury prone players…it was only a matter of time before they broke down again. He doesn’t rotate enough. Part of that is because we were kicked out of every competition early but what does he expect to happen when the bench players are left to rot without any game time. Tavares, Lokonga, pepe and nketiah have had minimal game time since early on in the season. They need time to build and unfortunately that’s going to happen at a time when every point matters. Cedric got the time and now he’s the least of our worries.

    Lokonga needed to partner xhaka. He was great early on with an experienced head next to him. When he partnered patino he was lost at sea.

    Xhaka at LB was a big fail last season. Universally agreed that it did not work. Arteta didn’t learn from that. He needed to show faith in tavares. Let’s not forget tavares once upon a time was keeping Tierney out of the team and there were rumours city were going to throw big money at him.

    It’s all to familiar unfortunately. We laugh about tottenham bottling games but we’ve done it for over a decade now. We get into a good position and then the floor falls from out underneath. It happened back when fabregas was in the team and it’s still happening now.

  • Agreed, OZ. Tavares should have been trusted with the job to have Xhaka next to Lokonga. Big error; hopefully, the lad isn’t too damaged now to be called into the starting 11 at S’pton. I had stated that we didn’t need to disrupt the team too much at such a critical point in the season and somehow, Arteta decided to have a midfield of boys, against men in the visitors’ midfield.

    If Arteta brought in Tavares, it says a lot that he isn’t able to give him some playing time occasionally, to keep him warm and involved. We have to use the players as much as the games let us. See the changes made by Conte yesterday and you will observe a deliberate attempt to keep some of the subs happy. Lucas Moura, Bergwijn and Regulon (he came on earlier, to be fair) can’t be too pleased being kept on the bench but, if the team keeps winning, they will slowly start to accept it and relish their roles as subs and will happily come into the games to help with the result.

    Pepe, Sambi, Elneny and Tavares needed to be used in rotation. Maybe, Partey’s muscles won’t be so worked as to give in. This also sends the message to the first team lads that their places aren’t guaranteed.

  • When a manager makes an unconventional change and wins he is a genius, and when he loses he is unfit for the job. I would have played Xhaka in midfield, and if I did not believe in Tavares being ready, I would have played Saka there… But I am not a football manager, neither are any of us on BK, and we must not fall for the self deceptive belief that we know better, simply because Arsenal/Arteta lost another game. Our chosen team might also have lost yesterday; we just will never know. We cannot take the higher ground just because Arteta made an unexpected change and we lost.

  • We all saw last season that xhaka is not a good left back. He does not understand the position and is not quick enough to make up for his lack of awareness. He has been asked to do a job he is not capable of and that is not his fault.

    Arteta weakened 2 positions instead of just one by playing xhaka at left back and the loss falls on his shoulders. He can have all the praise he wants when his brave calls work but it works both ways. He was manager of the month Last month and has followed that up with 2 losses.

    I still think he is a good fit but I worry that we will not get many points in the next 5 games. The media and fans will be all over him for throwing away what we had. If we don’t make top 6 it will possibly be the end of his arsenal career.

    He needs to get this team firing and big decisions will have to made for the sake of the season and his job. Either a formation change or dropping some of his favs will have to happen as round pegs in square holes is never the right solution

  • The lowest Arteta will finish with Arsenal is eighth. That is progress with this young and new team. Its a work in progress and we will be stronger again next season.

    Let’s see what happens in the remaining games.

    Xhaka had good games as LFB last season.

  • I disagree. If Arsenal don’t finish top 6 it’s a fail. You can’t spend 130M and finish in the same spot on the table.

    I also disagree with your comment about arteta, TA. Just because he is manager does not mean he is above criticism. Xhaka at LB deserves criticism because it failed so badly last year. The January transfer window deserves criticism. We put all our eggs in 1 basket. We should have tried our best to secure top 4 instead of hoping for zero injuries for the entire run home (especially when partey and Tierney are always getting injured). Not rotating players deserves criticism. Not trying something different Laca wise deserves criticism.

    Arteta has had time. 99.9% of us are trusting the process. But he can’t finish 8th, 8th, and 8th again. If we are close and show some heart and go out and try people will have faith but if we capitulate again in this run in we will be in no man’s land again. This could undo all the good stuff from the mid year run.

  • About the January window I am not not convinced that Vlahovic was the only target all we wanted despite media reports. Did we ever put in an official bid. I remember Arteta went to the States to meet up with Kroenke and I am sure he may have asked for funds.

    Given last summer’s spending; (which by the way had something to do with appeasing fans after the breakaway league farce) Stan seemed reluctant to release more funds before significant trimming of the squad. That is just my opinion but I do not think Mikel and Edu were oblivious to the lack of squad depth. It will be interesting to see just how much backing they will get in the summer and it will only get tougher as Newcastle will once again be splashing their riches.

  • I am not sure how you can day 8th is progress being as we have finished in the same position the previous 2 years. Spending 130m and achieving the same finish but being knocked out of the cups earlier is actually regression. The fact that we have a young squad cant be used to paper over every crack. I know you don’t like to hear it total but anything other than 6th is a huge fail.

    He was given resources in the summer with everyone else playing poorly he had a great shot at 4th.
    It is all.on the manager when it comes to squad rotation, player burn out and getting the best out of a small, limited squad.

    Xhaka at left back is a disaster and for you not to see it is very odd indeed. If arteta continues to play him in that position then he will pay for it with his job.

  • Well with such a young and (quality) narrow squad it takes a few seasons to get to the top. Arteta has been punching well above his weight in recent months, showing us all what he is capable of. This is about the long term and only strategically minded people will get this. I believe in the project and the management.

    But to appease the fans we better finish in the top six.

  • TA, we are no body to appease and we are naive to beleive that the manager and owners are out to appease is. They know we are suckers for the club and will support no matter what. We wil crib and rile bit still spend enough money on games, merchandise and products of Arsenal. That’s the way fans area nd that’s how even the lowest of lowest league teams survive.
    Finishing out of Europe this year as well makes the progress much harder. For instance getting players of your choice is going to be harder, players with ambition, talent and character will expect to join a performing team. Other teams around us will improve and that moves the needle further. Youngsters looking for improving their games will closely look at the degree of improvment of our youngster, the chances you get and the ability of the manager to build relationship with you. We all want to support the club and hence the manager to achive success. It’s always the club and the manger not the other way round. Let’s see by the end of May where we stand but there are issues in squad and manager that currently doens’t give hope.

  • I don’t share your fears, Madhu. There will be plenty of players who will want to join project Arteta.. They did so last summer and they will do this summer. Just try and chill a bit.

  • I think it is quite elitist of you to basically say that anyone who disagrees with you is not strategically minded. I am also not sure we have been punching above our weight as I am yet to watch us comfortably beat a direct rival. We have either just about got a result or played well but lost or just straight up lost.

    Our first 8th finish came with an F.A cup. Our second came as we were in Europe until later stages. This season we have had none of those things. We have spent a lot of money and got rid of all the so called problem players. Arteta has been given license to run this team and mould it unto the team he wants (rightfully so). That means that all the good and bad decisions he gets all the praise and criticism that accompanies the job.

    If he can get 6th and jeep his job then we will be in a good position next season to push on again. Europe will attract better players and we have the ability to offer good wages and first team opportunities to the right sort of players. Europa may even be a better step than straight into champions league as we can blood players in the weaker groups and rotate the squad better.

    Keeping our star youngsters, bringing back some of our loan stars and getting some new blood will be key. We have a good foundation, stadium and manager but we need to capitalise before it is too late.

  • Wedge, you are absolutely right. Saying that anyone who disagrees with you is not strategically minded is indeed elitist. It could be still correct (just not too nice) if the underlying opinion would be true, but in this situation it is not the case either.
    Arteta is OGAAT, and long-term thinking – for the sake of simplification let’s use it as a synonym for being strategic minded or future-oriented – cannot be in the same sentence as OGAAT (without contradiction).
    TA loves OGAAT, so he is fiercely loyal to Arteta. And he has every right to be so. But maybe not every justification.

    Our fight for the top 4 places has failed, therefore our season is probably over.
    OGAAT has failed.
    Arteta is not yet failed, at least from the board point of view.
    The rest is up to interpretation.

  • Total. I always wait for the storm to pass whatever trend the comments take.

    I remain 100% behind Arteta and our young team.They all have a lot to learn – but learn they will – and improve they will. Wishing and hoping for a top four finish was really a bridge too far and (in my mind) would have been quite extraordinary.

    My sights have always been set on 2022/23 as I felt that both Arteta and the team needed time to gel and it’s been obvious from the beginning of the Arteta project that he would need both additional players.

    I’m not the least bit upset as what we are witnessing was to be expected.

  • Last weekend’s results.

    For the week:-

    1st Total with 3/6 plus most correct predictions = 7 points.
    2nd Madhu and OX10 with 2/6 plus one correct score = 4points.
    4th Eris with 2/6 = 2 points.
    5th GN5, Kev and Stuart with 0/6 = 0 points.
    Season to date:-

    1st Eris – 167.19
    2nd OX10 – 145.86
    3rd Madhu – 134.46
    4th Total -133.36
    5th Kev – 123.73
    6th GN5 – 121.83
    Congratulations to Total for another 1st place finish.
    GN5 consolidated his last place position.

  • Next weekends selections:-

    Manchester City v Liverpool – FA Cup Semi *
    Tottenham v Brighton
    Southampton v Arsenal
    Chelsea v Crystal Palace – FA Cup Semi *
    Arsenal Ladies v Chelsea Ladies FA Cup Semi
    Celtic v Rangers Scottish Cup Semi Final *

  • Manchester City v Liverpool – FA Cup Semi * 2-1
    Tottenham v Brighton H
    Southampton v Arsenal A
    Chelsea v Crystal Palace – FA Cup Semi * 2-1
    Arsenal Ladies v Chelsea Ladies FA Cup Semi 2-1
    Celtic v Rangers Scottish Cup Semi Final * 2-1

  • Wedge, rather than calling me names, give my comment some consideration. I like you so I am not offended and I did not mean to offend you. The bigger picture is vital now.

  • Manchester City v Liverpool – FA Cup Semi * 1-0
    Tottenham v Brighton D
    Southampton v Arsenal A
    Chelsea v Crystal Palace – FA Cup Semi * 1-2
    Arsenal Ladies v Chelsea Ladies FA Cup Semi 3-1
    Celtic v Rangers Scottish Cup Semi Final * 1-2

  • Total I am not trying to offend anyone and also did not call you any names. I said it was elitist to look down on the intelligence of people who disagree with you.

    I gave your comment lots of consideration which is why I also argued your point about punching above our weight.

    I don’t wish to further agitate or continue this conversation as I don’t think it will be very productive. I will say that we both obviously want Arteta to stay and also deeply care for the club.

    Let’s finish on that positive note and hopefully our next debate will be about who scored the best goal against Southampton.

  • Until it is mathematically impossible for us to get European places, I don’t see why the team should be written off just yet. We are still in this and despite the siege scenario around the club at the moment, all it takes is a few tweaks, some fitness luck and the right result and we should be back firing. OGAAT can’t be deemed to have failed, in my view. OGAAT is a state of mind rather than some formation or tactical shift that can be blamed for a bad result. For instance, with that state of mind, it is easier not to allow previous results weigh on the minds of the players and staff.

    If the lads and us fans can just go it one game at a time (it is hard, I assure you), we will probably get the right results, mostly. Arteta will have to go back to the basics and start the resurgence all over again.

  • Good job, TA on your top scoring performance. Well done, GN5 as you keep this going. Are penalty shootouts given a consideration in predicting score lines for the cup games which end in a draw after 90 mins and ET?

    Here are my predictions for the weekend’s selections:

    Manchester City v Liverpool – FA Cup Semi * H 2-1
    Tottenham v Brighton H
    Southampton v Arsenal A
    Chelsea v Crystal Palace – FA Cup Semi * H 4-2
    Arsenal Ladies v Chelsea Ladies FA Cup Semi H 1-0
    Celtic v Rangers Scottish Cup Semi Final * H 3-1

  • Dear all, if we are looking at the results in isolation and not big picture of teh project then we are doing a disservice to ourselves. The big picture of the project are the following and answer to these will reveal the direction of this project. The next 8 games i feel is the make or break of this project.
    1. Has the squad improved this season? What parameters are considered for this.
    2. Have the youngsters improved this past season and have they matured to the rigours of PL and mid week European games.
    3. Do we have credible plan , playing style and footballing intelligence to manage the game.
    4. Has the manager instilled confidence in the squad and each one is ready to perform when they are put on the field.
    5. Do the squad feel comfortable and have confidence in the manager that they can talk to him freely about tactics of the game
    6. Do we have a credible story and dream to sell Arsenal to prospective talents. Has our PR team doing this job already and our scouts have a potential and realistic list to target
    7. Do our owners have the confidence in managers ability to take the club tk the next level both on the field and off it.
    The answers to these above questions will have to be provided based on the last two seasons. We may well have to wait till the end of the season before we can answer these questions. But presently with majority of the season behind us answers are uncomfortable.
    I love this club to death and it’s my only distractions to other nasty things that happens in this world including in my own country. But iam not wedded to the manager just like i was not wedded to Wenger in the last decade. We missed great opportunities to do what’s best for the club being fixated with a manager cog in this big wheel called Arsenal. Truth to be told we are the cusp and next 8 games may well decide the trajectory of my beloved club

  • While some of these aspects are quantitative/objective and some are more qualitative/subjective, this is a very well structured and collected list, Madhu. Nicely done! And you might be right by saying it all must be evaluated at the end of the season as well.
    However I think your take-off premise could be flawed. You would like to look at the big picture, thus you would prefer to avoid the trap of cherry-picking the aspect(s) supporting your initial opinion. But I don’t think that you are like the average supporter, Madhu. In fact, your quest towards an unbiased, fact-based picture makes you a rare breed of Arsenal fan, my friend. The majority wouldn’t mind aligning the facts to the opinion instead of the other way around, and wouldn’t even consider it a disservice.

  • Pb, for me the results alone are not that much of a problem. With a young squad it’s be expected that we will hit roadblocks. But what made me worried and depressed was the look on Ofegaards face when he cored the goal and at the final whistle. The images of 2006/07 season when with another young team we were too of teh table untill Eduardos leg break. The horrific scenes from that day when players wer distraught came back to my mind.
    Ode looked distraught and all his joy of youthfulness looked sucked out of him. The devastating affect of the last two games, the injuries, lack of options, marginalised players and general lack of ideas during the game seems to be showing on the youngsters. Arresting this slide immediately will go a long.way in helping these youngsters to get their confidence and joy back.

  • Interesting week of games in front of us. The sharp end of the season with our boys still in the running for Europe and our girls with a double to play for. A tough ask for both, but they will be focused. Six international goals for our Viv, will have whet her appetite for the semi, and MO8’s effort from distance and Sambi’s two very close long rangers v Brighton will encourage our midfielders with their shooting.

    Thanks GN5. I am strongly positioned for the wooden spoon, but happy to be involved with such august company.

    Happy Easter to all on Bergkampesque. If we learn anything from the Easter story, it’s the old adage, “It aint over until it’s over”. Friday is mournful but Sunday is coming…

    Manchester City v Liverpool – FA Cup Semi * H 1-2
    Tottenham v Brighton D
    Southampton v Arsenal A
    Chelsea v Crystal Palace – FA Cup Semi * 1-2
    Arsenal Ladies v Chelsea Ladies FA Cup Semi 1-0
    Celtic v Rangers Scottish Cup Semi Final * 2-0

  • Both our young manager and young players are on a learning curve. Arteta got his selections wrong concerning Xhaka especially in the first half where our midfield was in disarray and we did not have a natural leftback. Our team is not ready or have enough quality for too much changes. That affected the cohesion all over the pitch and confidence. Hope Arteta learn from this mistake (as he did for the second half) and go back to the basic structure which saw the team getting good wins and even fought toe to toe with Liverpool and MC this year. The sideways and backways passing except for the frantic final minutes indicates that our players have lost some confidence to run into spaces to attack – and we cannot win games without this.

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