22 Comments

Pep Says “Arteta Knows Everything ” I say “Really Pep?”

Good morning all.

Today @shotta_gooner and I look back at the limp surrender to City and try to work out why a squad of this quality is wallowing in mid table and scoring goals at a miserable rate. To be honest I surprised myself with my conviction that Arteta is way out of his depth as a manager. I try to understand where people are seeing progress but I fail miserably and conclude that the future is bleak unless surgery is done.

If you think I’m wrong, please use the comments section to educate me, I would love to be shown as wrong.

Pedantic George.

36 Comments

It’s City, Here’s Hoping.

Good morning all.

This afternoon at 4.30 P.M. we welcome the rampant Manchester City to an empty Emirates, a daunting task is ever there was one, While City have notched up 15 wins on the spin, we have lurched between wining and losing, being awful to decent while they sit clearly on top of the pile as we are stuck in dead centre mid table. All logic and statistics point to a City win, and yet? We still have hope. This hope may be based on nothing more than wishful thinking, but without hope, why bother?

City have no injuries to speak of, but I doubt Pep will risk his current star man, Gundogan to start. Aguero and De Bruyne either, so although they may all be technically fit, we should be spared the sight of them at kick off, then again, that will make their bench even more scary.

So to us, Partey wont feature but everyone else of note is available. I’m not even going to attempt to guess who will be picked beyond Xhaka, Leno and Bellerin. Any line up and set up is possible because I think Arteta will have to try something different to what we have seen recently, I don’t imagine we will be even attempting to out play them.

I normally look forward to watching City, but not today, I’ve put a kettle and a box of biscuits behind my sofa ,where I’ll be hiding for 2 hours. But as I said, we still have hope.

75 Comments

It’s The Hope That Kills.

A few weeks ago, Daniel,  my 15 year old son, rushed out of his room, and full of excitement told me that while it obviously wouldn’t happen The Arsenal were linked with Martin Ødergaard. I listened attentively, and while not wanting to kill his enthusiasm, also wanted to warn against the inevitable disappointment when yet again a transfer rumour proved to be just that: a rumour, written to generate website clicks. While it is also true that most of the players he tells me we are about to sign I have never heard of, this one intrigued me for I had a distant memory of the name – and a sense that we’d been linked with him before.

And so we had, back several years ago now when the footballing world was suddenly full of the new latest wunderkind, the ‘hardly old enough to tie his own bootlaces’ Norwegian Messi. Martin Ødergaard. With, of course, the best ‘knower’ of new talent, Arsene Wenger instrumental in inviting all 15 years old of him, to spend a couple of days at Colney. Money talks of course, especially if you are keen to cash in on a yet to be proved player, and so predictably enough he went on to sign for Real Madrid. But however talented they may be, teenagers by and large don’t cut the mustard in senior football, and so Ødergaard disappeared from view, needing  to do his apprenticeship, an apprenticeship of course involving loans to clubs perhaps less well suited to nurturing prodigious, yet fragile, talent (think Gnabry and Pulis). But the fact that Wenger had seen something, and that six year later Arteta was seemingly interested, was enough to get me thinking.

Enough to get me thinking? That, if not a lie, is criminally economical with the truth. This 63-year-old, recently invited for his first Covid jab due to a ‘pre-existing’ condition, was straight on to YouTube, consuming all the Ødergaard videos and chat it was possible to find. And then he did sign (just a loan, but who knows?). That it also coincided with an upturn in The Arsenal’s results even saw a re-reading (about the 7th, if the truth be known) of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch. Suddenly we were back, the sunlit uplands beckoning, League, Cup and European glory only a matter of time. Arsene knew. And he made sure Arteta knew too. In my dreams I was shuffling back to the tube station, carried along on waves of song and the scent and smells and banter of match day, full of the 4-0 schooling we’d just handed to the lot down the road, a victory orchestrated by Ødergaard, Saka and Smith-Rowe. My dreams are so sad these days!

Well as night follows day, Ødergaard didn’t really feature at all to begin with: we were dumped out of the Cup, and then met with horribly predictable reversals in the Midlands, first thrown to the  Wolves’, then scrappily at the hands of a Villa side unreally favoured by Fortune. Ødergaard merely an ineffectual bit-player. Of course there was a reason why Real let him go, of course Tierney and Partey were injured, of course the Refs were never going to help us, of course the lot of the football fan is to be permanently disappointed.  And of course a bit of me was deep down pleased: supporting a team, unless you are a shifting glory hunter, is not just about the shitness of everything, but it’s the active revelling in it.

And yet. And yet. And yet. 

Just when you think it is all so bad it’s time to walk away, to stop going, to stop accessing the websites, to deactivate Twitter, Arteta only goes and starts Aubameyang up front, with Smith-Rowe, Saka and Ødergaard just behind him, and another great Wenger signing  (Xhaka) playing alongside another tiki-taka Real reject (Ceballos) at the heart of the midfield against everybody’s flavour of the month, Leeds. And before you know it, it’s 4-O to the Arsenal and the side’s oozing Wengerean unction. Little twiddly midfielders everywhere, Wengerball incarnate, ‘walking-the-ball-in’ the clear ambition.

As I once read, Arteta was Arsene’s translator on the pitch. Could it just be that the DNA is reasserting itself? Might there be glory days ahead? Is it safe to dream again? And if it isn’t, if dreams aren’t allowed, then what after all is the point of anything?

Tim Head@foreverheady

12 Comments

Saka Leeds Us To Hope.

Good morning all.

In this week’s podcast @shotta_gooner and I look at why the Leeds game was such fun and gush about the wonderful Saka.

55 Comments

Leeds, Leeds, Leeds!

Good morning all.

This afternoon at 4.30 P.M. we play Marcelo Bielsa’s mad attacking Leeds side. It should be an exciting game because of how they play. They have an all action, all attack, energy filled game that they play no matter who the opposition is. I don’t believe they have a single player that is as good as his Arsenal counterpart. Regardless of that, they will come at us in waves for 90 plus minutes. They will impose their game on us. It might cost them dearly, but even if it does, they will do the same again to their next oponents, no matter who they are. Remember those days?

Now, as for us? Who knows? We hope it’s the way we played for 44 minutes against Villa and not what we have seen for most of the rest of the season, but as I said, who knows?

Two big misses for us are Partey and Tierney. Their absence gives Arteta a problem or two that is more than just their own quality being missing. Who he picks to replace them will change the way we play considerably. The conservative changes would see Cedric and Elneny come in. Cedric is a genuine defender and Elneny is full of running, which me might need to match Leeds. A more adventurous line up would see Saka at leftback and Ceballos in the middle. Again, who knows? I can see the benefits for them all.

Luiz and Leno are back and one of them, Leno, seems certain to be selected. Luiz though? That’s quite a call for Mikel. Personally I’m not sure he should pay the price for what I consider was shocking refereeing, but I suspect he will.

We absolutely have better players than them, but so do every other team in the league, so we can’t rely on that, we will have to play well to win. We can and I hope we do because that will make it a good game and a good day.

Best of luck to Mikel, the boys and you all.

Stay safe

Pedantic George.

47 Comments

Refs, Gaffs and Guff.

Here is me and @shotta_gooner trying to make sense of the latest setbacks and general nonsense going on at the club. It’s grim, but it is what it is.

Pedantic George

73 Comments

Villa Away, A Chance Of Redemption.

Good morning all.

An early 12.30 P.M. start away at Villa to quickly look forward to. I think despite the loss to Wolves, we have seen enough of an improvement to actually “look forward to” in a positive way. There can be no doubting that there has been a genuine improvement to our recent performances and results.

I have long said that Xhaka is a top player who generally always plays well. I have maintained that he has suffered from being put in midfield with the wrong players and in a poor set up. He was blamed for the teams shortcomings rather than any of his own, Of course I received dogs abuse for this opinion and despite me providing his personal stats to back up my opinion, I was told by the “I used my eyes” brigade, that I was an idiot. Well, Arteta has basically said the same thing now, as Emery and Wenger before him did, so I wonder if these fans will claim Arteta is an idiot? Partey is a good player, but i’m sure he will benefit from Xhaka, just as much as the other way around. I feel it’s a midfield partnership as good as anything in the league. I believe that centre midfield is the most crucial part of a good team, so there is much to be pleased about with these two lads.

Leno will be missing so I expect to see a half fit new boy, Mat Ryan, between the sticks as Alex Runarsson, has done all he can to convince us that buying him was a mistake. Good luck Mat.

Luiz will be missing and I think Gabriel will replace him. The lad was showing signs of vulnerability before he caught Covid so it could go either way with him, he might be less physically ready, but more mentally rested? Let’s hope he is at his best, which we have seen is quite good.

Smith-Row and Saka will surely play ,if fit, and Pepe has eventually shown enough to keep his place, so for me, it’s either Lacazette or Aubameyang in the middle. There is a good case for either and whoever Arteta picks, I won’t be criticising in hindsight, should all not go well.

I think Villa have been playing better ,as a team, than us, but we have better players. However, our team play looks better than it was, so that, and our better players, gives us a really good chance of revenging the hiding the gave us at The Home of Football.

It’s great that we can again be excited about a game and today is not the time to harp on about what has gone on for most of the season, lets leave that until May.

Enjoy the day and the game. Stay safe.

Pedantic George.

14 Comments

Should Arteta Stick To Football?

Positively Arsenal

Arsenal, on Thursday, posted on their Twitter account a quote by 1st team manager (don’t forget the promotion he was given that title last summer) Mikel Arteta, lecturing the public to not abuse football players, etc:
“I’m all for people to have their opinions, but not to be insulting people and using a screen on someone’s phone to tell them whatever you want, to a person that you don’t even know. That for me has to be eradicated because its causing a lot of damage.
Just to make sure we didn’t think they were doing it for giggles, which was my first reaction, the tweet was accompanied by a heavily photoshopped image of a sombre Arteta on a dark background, bathed in pale light as if he was a persecuted soul, struggling against the forces of darkness. What a lovely attempt at psychological manipulation of the unsuspecting viewer.
Is…

View original post 808 more words

4 Comments

Should Arteta Stick To Football?

Arsenal, on Thursday, posted on their Twitter account a quote by 1st team manager (don’t forget the promotion he was given that title last summer) Mikel Arteta, lecturing the public to not abuse football players, etc:
“I’m all for people to have their opinions, but not to be insulting people and using a screen on someone’s phone to tell them whatever you want, to a person that you don’t even know. That for me has to be eradicated because its causing a lot of damage.
Just to make sure we didn’t think they were doing it for giggles, which was my first reaction, the tweet was accompanied by a heavily photoshopped image of a sombre Arteta on a dark background, bathed in pale light as if he was a persecuted soul, struggling against the forces of darkness. What a lovely attempt at psychological manipulation of the unsuspecting viewer.
Is this the same Arteta, as well as his cohorts and bosses in the Arsenal management, who, after Project Restart last June, victimized and abused Mesut Ozil for not taking a paycut during the Covid lockdown? Football fans have remarkable short memories, so I am forced to remind those who may have forgotten that after Project Restart, Ozil was never selected for another game by the club despite being key in the previous 10 EPL games under Arteta’s regime, never leaving the field with the club behind on the scorecard. When asked by the media Arteta prevaricated and deflected, ultimately implying that Ozil was not selected for football reasons.
Concurrently mainstream media was apparently briefed by the club that Ozil was a bad apple in the dressing room, lazy, only willing to play certain games, etc. However it was communicated to the public, that version of Ozil falling out with both Arteta and the club was deliberately aimed at defaming and discrediting him in the eyes of the Arsenal fans. Predictably he was the subject of the most vile abuse on social media.
Did Arteta or any member of the club hierarchy set the record straight, did they do what was necessary to “eradicate” the abuse and defilement of someone who was by far their most famous player? Victimization and persecution in due course, over the past three months in particular, what many of us had suspected, eventually came to light. Ozil and other two other unnamed players were being victimized and persecuted for refusing to take a paycut that Arteta had demanded on behalf of the suits. The German had the “affront” to request guarantees that there would be no redundancies of staff if the players gave up some of their wages. Arteta and his bosses could give no assurances because after bullying the rest of players to take a 12.5% cut the club went ahead and sacked 55 employees including key long-serving scouts as well as Jerry Quay who had served for 15 years as the beloved Gunnersaurus.
This is the Arteta now painting himself as pained by the damage caused to players. What about staff? Start of this new EPL season last August, Arteta gave lie to his declaration in December in 2019 that that every player would be given an equal chance under his management. Instead he demonstrated he was fully aligned with the Kroenkes who, since Wenger left, had targeted Ozil for exit from the club. Emery tipped us off that it was a management directive to not select Ozil in his teams. Arteta simply took the policy further by not naming the German to either the Premier League or Europa squads.
Now the club has finally got rid of Ozil after paying off the remaining wages under his contract, rumoured to be a mouth-watering £7 million. No wonder the German can play for free for Fenerbache for the remainder of this season. But it is not only Ozil who is victim of Arteta’s savaging of players who did not bow to his diktat. As my good friend @ShardGooner
exposed in his recent blog there has a Game-Of-Thrones like purge, by January 31st of any player who expressed any public support of the German. Kolasinac, Sokratis, Willock and AMN have been either let go or loaned, in almost all cases with the club paying most of their wages. Don’t forget in the summer window they already got rid of that French firebrand, Guendouzi, exiled to Hertha Berlin because, it is rumoured, he vocally supported Ozil in not agreeing to the pay cut. Is there anything more “damaging” to the “reputation” of these players?
But the club has the temerity to have Arteta painted as the one in grief because players are being insulted. Who are they fooling? It seems to me many fans are like lemmings walking in lockstep with the manager and his bosses. Since they are so much in thrall with Arteta, please advise him to focus on taking the club out of the mediocrity of mid-table and get us into European football starting with Villa this Saturday. At the rate they are throwing money around left, right and center, to satisfy Arteta’s massive ego trip, we had better get into the European competitions next year. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this spending spree could end in disaster if we don’t have that extra source of revenue.
Given his recent actions and the challenge ahead Arteta is in no position to give us lectures about abuse of players. He had better hope the team that he has built is psychologically resilient to overcome the challenges ahead in the next 17 games. Wolves on Tuesday is just a taste of the many obstacles that any Arsenal team will face as they strive for the upper end of the table.
@shotta_gooner

123 Comments

Where We Are.

Our twenty first game of the PL season saw us play one of the top sides in the division and perform very well. It left us ninth with 31 points however all the teams above us have played less games apart from Manure and the three teams immediately below us could go above us with wins from their games in hand which would leave us in 12th. Not all teams will win games in hand of course and in an extremely game packed season points in the bag and being out the F.A. cup could work in our favour.

So, what should we asking ourselves and speculating on for the remaining 17 games? Well, the biggest question is does Mikel now know what type of football to play to get us both results and performance after his piece of luck against Chelsi saw his fortunes change and poor old fat Frank fail as he could have got his cards had he carried on playing the same tired team in the same tired style.

Who is our best eleven and does Mikel know? For me its Leno, Hector, Bob, Mari, Kieran, Granit, Partey, Saka, ESR, Joe and Laca. Obviously form changes and Martinelli and a few others will be seriously challenging that line up especially our new number ten who may turn out ok. There will be many who question my view that Joe should be in there, but football is a team game and I believe he gives more stability and balance to the side defensively and will chip in with goals more than the so-called flair players that are supposed to be in front of him in the pecking order(Willock is now on loan and so can’t be considered). The next big omission in that eleven is Aubameyang, well I have always thought he gives very little to the team apart from goals and as time has gone on that has become more and more apparent. Now he is not scoring he should be an impact player for the rest of the season with Laca and Eddie sharing the starting birth. I think most people know my views on Pepe, he is a day dreamer which makes him a liability and does not produce enough at the other end to warrant a gamble with his defensive frailties.

How will Mikel manage the battle of the number tens? From what I have read Odegaard wants to play for Real Madrid and there is little chance signing him on a permanent basis especially as we will not be in the Champions league next season unless we win the Europa Cup. While the emergence of Emile has shown how much we needed such a player, and he could not do it every game for the rest of the season pissing him off in his breakthrough season could prove disastrous for ARSENAL long term.  If Mikel goes with Martin more often and then he goes back to RM or another CL side next season and Emile thinks he hasn’t been trusted, we could lose the pair of them and then we would be back to pre-chelski.

What should we do about the set piece coach? Defensively we do not seem bad although I did notice yesterday that the player, we have been leaving on the edge of the box at corners to chase down the second ball was missing sometimes. At the other end we have no potency, our free kicks are rarely on target and so we should be using a bit of imagination to get the best out of free kicks in dangerous positions and corners have got to be more varied to produce goals. The pile a million players round the keeper to give him COVID-19 ploy has never worked and should never be seen again. If the Set piece coach is not working, then they should get rid of him and reemploy Audrey the tea lady.

What do we do with the ex-Academy players for the rest of the season? So, its January the 31st and most of the players who have been in the squad are still here which is what I had hoped. As I alluded to at the start of this piece this is an incredibly competitive league this season and because of our bad start top six is probably beyond us in which case the use of the youngsters and the progression of the squad is vitally important for next season and beyond. I think the manager must make sure that players get game time with each other and not 100 miles away playing for cold balls utd. Obviously below that Edu must make sure the younger players loans are at the correct clubs to develop them in the way we want, and which will maximise the chance of the players integrate into our first team squad.   

How good are we? Even after the performance yesterday and the run of the last seven PL games it is still difficult to tell how good we are. We seem to have improved defensively despite having to change personnel to often however going forward scoring does seem a problem with defenders, midfielders, and forwards all under scoring for their respective sections. I believe selection based on cohesion rather than individuals will cure this although I do have a nagging doubt that Mikel does like a “Name”.

All in all, although there are still some worries especially politically at the club there are also some cracks of optimism starting to appear so start thinking and enjoy the rest of the season.

(ed. This was written by seebs @arse_or_brain before transfer deadline day, thanks Ian)