Good morning all.
This evening we play Burnley at the home of football, and I can’t stress how massive a game it’s become for Mikel Arteta and the fanbase.
Burnley have had a terrible start to the season. They have won one game and only scored 5 goals, while conceding 18. But despite their form and awful record in this fixture, the game fills me with fear and trepidation.
Burnley literally don’t have a player of any note. They have two old-fashioned big lump strikers and two old-fashioned big lump centre-backs. The play an old-fashioned 442 and they just try to bludgeon their way to wins. They should be meat and drink to a team like Arsenal, but I suspect Sean Dyche is licking his lips at the prospect of his trip to London.
We sit in 15th place and a loss or a draw will likely see us stay in 15th place, a win will propel us up the table to the dizzy heights of 14th, so hardly a sea-change, but the damage to confidence – of the team and fans – to Mikel Arteta could be huge.
I get the feeling that both the dressing-room and the fan-base are tottering on the brink with their belief in the Spaniard and even his perfect hair won’t be enough to turn the tide.
When it comes to the point where the board have to come out in support of the manager and there is open rebellion of 3 or 4 players, the end is usually nigh.
Ozil, Guendouzi, Saliba, Pepe and team captain Aubameyang have, sometimes directly and sometimes through their agents, broken ranks and voiced their displeasure with Arteta. Even Willian, his pet Brazilian, is looking to distance himself from Arteta and the club that was desperate to pay £200k pw to get his signature, a few short months ago. The faith of the fans is shifting towards the young squad members, but as Arteta seems to have no inclination to put similar faith in them, even they can’t help him. I suspect there are more players, just like our big twitter accounts, bloggers and podcasters, that are waiting for the moment that they can shift their public position towards Arteta, safe in the cocoon of public opinion.
I have no idea how we will set up, who will play and where they will play. Nothing seems to work and no combination of players have looked good. We have not been unlucky, because all the measures of how well we are playing, has us in the bottom 5.
We can argue how good a squad we have in comparison to others, which could reasonably be said to be between 4th and 8th, but no way is it 15th. So something is seriously wrong and something has to seriously change. It might be an exaggeration to say that Arteta is in the last chance saloon, but it must be getting close to that. Make no mistake, our owners will be watching closely and will do whatever necessary to protect their investment, the future value of commercial deals and the share value.
Good luck to everyone involved, because we need it.