This evening at 7.15 we kick off against a Wolves side that are worryingly consistent in their play. They inevitable play reasonably well. Results for them vary of course, but they know how they play and they normally action their style quite well. The problem is that a decent team , playing quite well is good enough to see us off comfortably. I would like to think that if we play well we will win, but I seriously can’t remember when the last time was that we played well. People will cite United away, a great result, but one we got from one shot on target from open play. Hardly what can be described as a great performance. That said, I’d take that today, thank you very much.
We seem unable to attack with much fluency, guile or swash buckle, and with all the injuries and banishments we are suffering from, I don’t see that changing today, or any time soon. We have in Aubameyang, one of the best strikers in the world, but he’s scored once from open play this season. Is it reasonable to assume he’s just on a bad run (which coincides with bad runs for just about everyone in the team), or is the system not suiting him and the others? Option B would seem more likely to me. But it’s hardly surprising when you consider our creative options are Willock, Willian or bizarrely , Lacazette?
Then there are injuries to consider, Partey is out and Saka is doubtful, both would help.
He way we are playing it can’t be long until Arteta tries something new, goodness knows what that might, or should, be, but it needs to come soon. There are still people clinging to the hope that everything will somehow click, and we will morph into a fluent attacking force. I wish I was one of those people and could see it too. I just don’t.
For me, top four is out of the question and even top six is highly unlikely unless something dramatically changes. Well let’s hope I’m wrong and this evening sees the start of a transformation.
We start the day in 14th position, just one point behind Wolves in 10th place, but 3 points could see us possibly, depending on other results, scoot up to as high a 7th. Make no mistake, this is a massive game.
I have long held the view that the litmus test of a person’s understanding of football is their appreciation of Mesut Ozil. It’s the gold standard of tests, if you don’t rate him, you’re an idiot. There is no option B, no mitigation and I accept no arguments otherwise.
So how has he become “lost” and what is lost?
Has he lost his ability to play, his desire to perform or his physical prowess? No, none of these. He has been lost to Arsenal, and the football world, because he has been stopped from playing by Arsenal football club. We will look at the theories why later, but whatever your opinion, he has not lost himself.
For a decade Ozil has been one of the best players in the world, and the best player Arsenal have had in that decade. More than that he is one of the best players in the history of Arsenal F C, exactly where on the list of all time greats is open to debate, but he’s in the debate, like it or not.
In the period where Germany were the best team in the world, and with the best crop of players they had ever had, he was German player of the year in 5 out of 6 seasons. The very definition of top end world class.
I think his Arsenal career should be looked at in two separate and distinct sections, under Arsene Wenger and post Arsene Wenger.
When Wenger left Arsenal, Ozil had a better G/A per PL game record (0.54) than: Pires, Ljungberg, Reyes, Cesc, Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham, Scholes, Giggs, Hazard, Eriksen, Nasri, Silva, Santi, Ramsey, Coutinho, Arshavin, Pogba and so on. That, despite his last 18 months being blighted by a chronic back problem and (as Arsene told it) “a big problem with his immune system”. It should also be remembered that despite these physical problems Arsene had to insist that he didn’t play games, while Ozil was insisting he wanted to help and would play.
Now, his G/A contribution has dropped off dramatically under both Emery and Arteta, but we must ask why – not assume that it’s because he has forgotten how to play. The systems and positions he has been required to play have been unsuited to his skill set and he’s been playing in areas of the pitch where goals and assists should not be expected. However, his underlying stats have not diminished, his passing stats are the same and the idea that he has physically dropped off are exposed as lies when you look at the facts. Here is an example of him under Arteta in a deeper lying position, you will note that only one player ran farther and only Aubameyang can run slightly faster:
Ozil is not just an elite playmaker, but he is an elite athlete. Darren Burgess, former Head of Elite Performance said:
“Mesut is much-maligned physically. But there were many games where his running numbers — and I’m talking high-speed numbers, not just distance but high-speed numbers — were among the elite in the competition. So he’s certainly capable of doing it.”
Wherever he plays on the pitch he brings a technical security that is levels above his team mates. He does the job asked of him even when it doesn’t best suit him. He is the very essence of a team player, perhaps the most unselfish and generous player ever to have played the game. The notion that he doesn’t suit the style of play the manager wants is ridiculous, he might be better suited in a different system, but in any system he is still levels above any player in our squad.
So why is he not playing or even registered to play? What madness can explain this stupid situation? People have different opinions and theories, including the idiots who say it’s for “football reasons”, so let me explain my thinking.
I believe it started with the departure of Ivan and Arsene. They had given Ozil a contract worth allegedly £350k per week. The new regime likely felt that this money could be better used elsewhere given the changing nature of the game we were trying to play under Emery. Not unreasonable and new managers do like to get their own players in that suit their style and Raul did like to wheel and deal. Ozil leaving would give the manager and Raul the opportunity to reshape the team. However, Mesut made it clear he didn’t want to leave and instead of accepting, and honouring the agreed contract, they tried to make him unhappy enough that he would choose to leave. He and Ramsey were excluded from the team and briefings against both of them started seeping out. Of course eventually the football got that bad that they both had to be brought back in. But the scene had been set, the powers that be wanted him gone.
Then in December 2019, Ozil spoke out strongly on Instagram against China’s treatment of the Uighur population in the north-western region of Xinjiang, where over a million people have reportedly been held in detention camps over recent years. The club quickly distanced itself from these comments and Ozil was critical of the club for doing so. The club was losing access to the huge merchandising market in China and crucially the PL itself was at risk of losing TV income, and now have a vested interest in Ozil being shut up. It should be noted that China had flexed their muscles against the NBA in the October and the NBA buckled. Another financial reason for Ozil to be pushed out.
It appears that with the arrival of Mikel Arteta, Ozil’s fortunes had changed. Arteta, having played with Ozil would have known what he brings and despite the board wanting Ozil gone, he was in a position to pick him. Which he did. In fact, before Covid hit, Ozil was one of only two players to start every PL game under Arteta. Yes he was playing deeper, but he was playing well and Arteta was full of praise for his contribution and attitude. “His attitude has been incredible.” But during the lock down something dramatically changed.
In my opinion what happened was that Ozil hurt Arteta’s feelings and dented his ego. The club asked all the players to take a 15% pay cut due to Covid and 15 of them said no. At this point Arteta stepped in and asked that the pay cut be accepted. All bar 3 of them agreed to the cut, Ozil was one of the 3. Mesut wanted more information about what the money would be used for, who would benefit and were jobs going to be secure. He indicated he would take the reduction, and more, if jobs were secured. He wasn’t given these assurances and subsequent events proved him right to want them, as 55 long-standing employees were made redundant and then our much beloved mascot. It should be noted that Ozil gives very generously to charities all over the world, is committed to ongoing help and has been paying for free meals for hundreds of school kids since March, long before Rashford spoke up.
Now I believe Arteta got the hump, Ozil didn’t bend the knee when he asked him to take the reduction and he demands obedience on all things. At this point the stars aligned for Josh and the board, Arteta could be convinced to shut Ozil out in the hope he would leave in the summer. But Mesut dug his heels in and refused to be pushed out. I believe the club and Arteta should have accepted that and played Ozil in his final year. That they didn’t, and now can’t, has to be the biggest act of self harm any club has ever done. The football is crap and we desperately need Ozil. It’s a mess and it’s a mess of Arteta’s and the club’s doing.
It’s more than a mess actually, it’s a disgrace.
P.S. If you want to make a small difference, sign the petition at the end of this tweet and reply. Oh, and stay safe.
Podcast: Yours truly and Blackburn George, the Arseblagger, lament the horrible football currently being played by Arsenal, who were thoroughly outplayed by Leeds, a newly promoted side from the Championship and warn it will get worse, not better, in the immediate future. Despite this bleak future, we are both convinced Arteta will get more time. Too many Arsenal fans are wedded to the narrative that Arteta can make us better despite every evidence to the contrary.
Important message: We are one of very few Arsenal pod-casters, if any, who are willing to take a critical view of some of the recent developments on- and off-the-field at Arsenal, which should be cause for concern to any honest, fair-minded fan of the football club. Show your support of our efforts by Liking and Subscribing to our podcast wherever you listen.
It’s been a long two weeks since Villa came to our house and gave us a good spanking but it does seem a lot longer. In that time we have had players playing 3 international games, catching covid while on duty and on holiday, having punch ups at training, Arteta searching for deep throat and several other players bigging up Ozil, all while Aubameyang has taken to sleeping rough. So nothing good for the Arsenal manager. The dissent among the ranks will be of most concern to him, given the togetherness he so likes, and likes to suggest he has brought to the team and club.
Mikel then, will have less options than normal to pick from. Will his “non negotiables” become negotiables as far as Willian is concerned?
I have no idea how we will set up, part from playing three at the back. Do we press like we did against United or do we sit back ? No matter what he decides to do, Leeds will play their game. They will come at us frantically, pressing and passing forward relentlessly. They have a style and their manager has a fixed vision, whether they have the players to make it work in the PL remains to be seen.
It looks like our midfield options are Xhaka, Ceballos and ,err, well and no one else. As Willock hasn’t had single PL minute, I cant see him being started.
Whatever happens, because of how Leeds play, it should be an entertaining watch.
Podcast: Yours truly, Shotta, and Blackburn George, the Arseblagger, discuss the revelations by Daniel Quy of how his father, Jerry Quy, the original Gunnersaurus, was sacked in a totally classless manner by the management of Arsenal and their corporate owners Kroenke Sports Enterprises.
What implications does this have for the future of our football club?
Important message: We are one of very few Arsenal pod-casters, if any, who are willing to take a critical view of some of the recent developments on- and off-the-field at Arsenal, which should be cause for concern to any honest, fair-minded fan of the football club. Daniel Quy is just a recent example of a fan who had to go public about the lack of class by the current management. Show your support of our efforts by Liking and Subscribing to our podcast wherever you listen
Latest Podcast: After the trashing of Arsenal by Aston Villa last Sunday, yours truly and Blackburn George, after weeks of discussion of the issue in our podcasts, are now convinced Mikel Arteta is unable to set up Arsenal to play attacking football. Despite our initial hopes and dreams that Arteta would return Arsenal to playing a more positive brand of football, it is now clear the Spaniard is more like his old coach, David Moyes, in his regimented, highly structured set-up whose primary objective is to stop the other team from playing. That is why performances since Project Restart have been generally poor despite some significant victories. It doesn’t matter who is selected, playing Arteta-ball, Arsenal will finish mid-table.
The evidence is glaring in front our eyes. It is time to stop the denial, Arteta-ball is bad for the club.
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A weird kick off time. 7.15 P.M. on Sunday evening, sees Arsenal hosting Aston Villa in a mid table clash. It’s 9th vs 10th with the visitors being in front on goal difference only. We have conceded only 7 goals, that’s great, until you consider we have only scored 9, that’s not so great.
A good win could propel either side into the top 4, so it’s quite a big game, what with the international break coming up, sitting at the top end would make us all feel better during yet another interlul.
With games having come thick and fast there seems to have two distinked teams emerged, and it’s a day for team 1.
I’m sure it will be 3 at the back, but which 3? David Luiz is fit again and his long pings seem to be our main source of creativity , I know , I know, but that’s the reality, so he could well come back in. Gabriel would seem to be a shoe in, and Rob Holding has done nothing to suggest he should be left out, that could be our 3, which would allow Tierney to move to wingback. However, Arteta does like Kieran on the left of a 3, which means Saaka can play, it’s a big call for Mikel.
In centre midfield Partey would be massive favourite to start. Most likely partnered by Elneney, but if Luiz doesn’t start, perhaps Xhaka will feature because of his better long passing. Establishing who are our number one starters is becoming difficult. That’s good, because that competition should drive the individuals on.
I feel sure Aubameyang and Lacazette will start, and I suspect Willian will be the third man, but who knows what Mikel thinks. It seems he has a slight variation to suit every opponent, and I have no idea what this variation might be, and certainly no clue what it should be.
The rare win away at United has turned a poor spell into a hopeful one. There’s no doubt it’s transformed the mood, even I am more hopeful that our style could achieve our goal of top 4, something I just didn’t see a week ago. We must score more, so let’s hope tonight is the start.
Podcast: As Arsenal defeat Manchester United at Old Trafford for the 1st time in 14 years, for most football fans it doesn’t matter how many shots Arsenal made on United’s goal. All that matters was the win. Yours truly Shotta and Blackburn George, @Arseblagger, conclude Arteta-Ball was the winner.
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We visit our one time rivals for the title in Manchester today.
Up the M6 full of swagger and confidence or fear and trepidation, depending on what side of the fence you currently occupy.
It’s not a place we have had much success at in recent years but it’s not a place they have had any success at this season, having failed to win a home game. So I suppose anything might happen?
Unless we preform considerably better than we have up until now, it could be a disappointing day.
I would like to think I could predict something insightful, but truth be told, I have no idea what sort of a set up or line up Arteta will go with.
Any success we have had since the return of football, has come from us accepting being second best, and setting up accordingly. We won the FA cup this way, so we might try that again. However, as we are struggling to find two fit centre backs, let alone three, we might play a little more expansively. They seem to struggle against pace so that could be an option. Where that comes from, beyond Aubameyang, again, I don’t know. I feel Arteta will be keen to get Willian back in the starting eleven, Aubameyang is a certainty, so that leaves one spot up top. Personally I would go with Saka, but that would mean Aubameyang in the centre and Mikel seems reluctant to go there.
In the midfield, Xhaka and Partey would seem obvious weather we play four or three/five at the back, so another may, or may not be required, perhaps Ceballos?
Let’s hope it’s a good game and we come away with 3 points and a happy fanbase, nothing much cheers us up more than win at the Old Toilet.
Ok, sorry I couldn’t be anymore illuminating, but that’s the best I can do for today.
Tonight we play Dundalk, serial winners of the League of Ireland. What I know about them and the team we might put out against them, could be written on the back of aa postage stamp, with room left for something else.
We are down to one and a half fully fit centre backs, so that’s the first problem facing Arteta. Can he risk either of them with a trip to Old Toilet at the weekend? Can he afford to play any first team players, Eleney and Xhaka perhaps? In their place? Not really. Sead perhaps? Youth team players? I have no idea.
The rest of the team should be less of a problem, with fringe players and the likes of Nelson, ESR and Willock coming in.
The inclusion of these youngsters should make it an entertaining game, something we haven’t seen for a long time.
Let’s hope Arteta remains seated and let’s them play football, rather than practicing the regimented line dancing he normally directs for the side lines.