Red Flags Over Arteta

The problem with Mikel Arteta, thanks to his long association with Arsenal, his excellence as an Arsenal player, his unflappable cool, amazing hair and piercing stare, is that we all either quite like him, or like him a lot. The static nature of the Arteta Out ‘movement’ is too obvious a point to labour.  Nobody really wants him out and certainly nobody wants him to fail. Yet.

Whilst some think he is failing, others point to the sign saying ‘trust the process’.  As yet, (and possibly due to prevailing social conditions) there have been few concourse fights called over the matter, and as of today, being pro- or anti-Arteta is not yet a resigning matter from any board of friends or fan collective. Nor is it yet a source of malignant material for social media figures, or grist to the ghastly ‘fan’ tv groups’ mill in the way that the polarisation of Arsene Wenger once provided such valuable service.  People are not yet ready to fall out over the red flags waving over Mikel Arteta.  And there is as yet no meaningful market for the nascent ‘Arteta Out‘ clickbait industry.

But when Arteta does go, it’ll be a pretty big moment in the history of Arsenal.  

By some weird quirk, he remains the only significant link with the Wenger years, and, by extension, ‘Wenger’s Arsenal’.  (This, of course, excludes Hector Bellerin, who, some say, may well be gone from the club before the summer is out). When Arteta departs, it will be no exaggeration to claim that the attempted metamorphosis that had been under way at Arsenal since Arsene Wenger joined the club in 1996, will effectively be over. This circle of the club’s life will have been completed, but not in ways any of us hoped for, or expected.

The Grand Plan that emerged from the early Wenger years would see us, theoretically, transformed from being one of the biggest clubs in London to one of the biggest clubs in the world.  Truth be told, we were probably already one of the biggest clubs in the world thanks to a lengthy, albeit inconsistent history of periodic success, and an unbroken stint in the game’s oldest league.  And Highbury was hardly a backwater. But, you know, we were all set to join the absolute top, topper-most table of Planet Football – supping luxuriantly alongside the Barcas and the Bayerns of the world.  What could possibly go wrong?  

Well, what actually went wrong was a new source of funds and matching tolerance of unlimited spending was discovered, welcomed in with open arms by a salivating, pumped up, leg’s apart league. One that was very comfortable with selling it’s very soul. And in return, that league duly became the richest home of the sport on Earth.  At this precise moment, football went from being the Beautiful Game to the wealthiest one. Outrageous spending blinded most of us to the eventual costs, for which we continue to pay, and pay heavily.

Chelsea’s vulgar arrival on the stage in 2004 was simply the start (if you ignore Sky’s and the Premier League’s more muted arrival some years earlier).  Worst was to come in the form of the slightly less provocative – but even wealthier – Manchester City. Freshly minted, they wasted no time in becoming the noisiest of neighbours, supercharged on oil and with a spending brashness encouraged by still more tolerance of unlimited club funding of what was, after all, only supposed to be a bloody game.

In fairness, none of this can be put at the door of Arteta and he could hardly have chosen a more challenging time to join the club.  But the journey the former player has taken, from delighting the fans with the excellence of his own on-field performances has morphed to a so-far less inspiring stint as a manager. Despite winning two cups, his insipid, at times dismal, team displays can be characterised as a feast of initial promise which all too rapidly morphed into an unpopular plate of frustrated disappointment. With a side dish of fear-for-the-future, served cold.

So exactly where are we today, with Arsenal FC?

At the very least, we all know we are in for a ‘busy summer’ – Mikel has all but said as much and the writing on the ball is clear for all to see, as a number of players are set to move on.  

But this is where it gets interesting – which players?  

Are we talking Ainsley Maitland-Niles, by any chance. Eddie Nkitieh?  Or Aubamayang and Willian?  The mood music appears to be swirling around the former pair as it doesn’t appear to matter how nonchalantly the latter two complete their laboured, generally disinterested shifts on the pitch, Arteta, you feel, will seemingly never call the pair of them out by rewarding them with an extended run in the reserves.

Who knows, maybe Eddie – England’s U21 record goal scorer – just is not Arsenal material.  Yet, Maitland-Niles has gone from winning the Man of the Match award for our win in the Community Shield last August, to playing a critical role in West Brom’s slaying of Chelsea, at Chelsea, 2-5, just a couple of days ago. Somehow or other, 2nd from bottom of the Premier League West Bromwich Albion, have managed to find a starring role for Ainsley in a team battling for league survival.  One that Mikel simply could not locate. A problem that just does not apply to his first choice forward line, it seems.

For Arsenal, this season is perilously close to being characterised as the dreaded ‘season of two halves’.  

The less said about the first half is still too much said, although covid conditions have proved challenging for everyone. Arsenal were about one game away, at one point, from an unenviable berth at the scene of this year’s relegation battle, but were saved from such ignominy by a revelatory – if not thrillingly inspired – switch to the ‘kids’, in the shape of Emile Smith Rowe, Saka and others.  

Gradually though, and thanks in part to injury, the first team has regretfully morphed back to it’s unwelcome pre-Xmas shape, with results to match.  But it’s hugely concerning that it took until Xmas for Arteta to realise who his best team is.  It’s just one of a number of red flags over Arteta that cause me the greatest concern regarding his future prospects as the Arsenal Manager.

Warning signs were already evident over the still hard to explain plight of Ozil, Guenduzi and one or two others. And whilst I was willing to assume Arteta had reasons for his outcasting of those two named, his treatment of a third player was, and remains, unforgivable, in my view.  

When Leno dropped out of the first team due to injury last June, 27 years old Emiliano Martinez (birthday 2nd September, so still 27, not yet 28 – have I got this bit right, George?) stepped up to the plate – and how! Coming off the bench to replace freshly injured Leno against Brighton on the 20th June, he saw out the entire remainder of the season, was commended for a string of commanding, stellar performances, and made crucial saves against Chelsea to help win Arsenal’s 14th FA Cup.  Incredibly, the ever-ready, always-prepared Martinez played just 15 games for Arsenal in 8 years, but was nonetheless visibly emotional and reduced to tears at the conclusion of the FA Cup.  He then went on to do it all again, this time against the mighty Liverpool in the Community Shield with Arsenal again winning, this time on penalties, against literally ALL expectations.  

Exactly the kind of player Arsenal have always needed.

But, despite being arguably the better ‘keeper, with a greater command of his box and generating superior confidence in the minds of his own defenders, this Arsenal stalwart, who joined the club back in 2012 and was in possession of the goalie’s jumper at the start of this current season, was somehow relieved of said jumper and sold for a bargain price of ‘up to’ £20 million to Aston Villa, currently ahead of us in the league, sitting pretty in 9th.

These funds are said to have gone towards the purchase of the excellent Thomas Partey – but also Martinez’ rather odd replacement, the Wenger-hating Runar Runarsson.

There are times when Arteta’s Arsenal play very well, but I never really know when that is likely to be.  

And Arteta’s red flags – the one’s that fly over his treatment of Ozil and Guendouzi, his sale of Martinez, his persistence with the sluggish PER and the reluctant Willian, as well as  alongside his perpetual sidelining of available talents in the form of Martinelli, Nketiah and others, continue to fly strongly in the breeze.

We all want Mikel to succeed – because we all still like him – but his decision-making is the primary source of concern for the future.  

Sure, some will trust the process while others, at some point, may start to protest.  Either way, despite his perfect hair and steely demeanour, the jury is still very much out on Arteta.  He has, by my reckoning, two transfer windows left.  Will his decision-making yet step up to the mark in the way at least 3 of his disappointing ‘stars’ currently refuse to, by and large?  The coming weeks will give us several clues. And the return of fans to the stadiums will likely force one or two hands, one suspects.

In the meantime, will his capacity to stubbornly stand by those under-performers, at the expense of better, albeit less experienced and younger alternatives, be finally tested to breaking point?

Or will those red flags continue to flutter?

And what of Arsenal, after he goes? 

Will we finally return, once and for all, to our more modest, traditional mid-table position, eventually with players of similar quality to match and only the occasional ‘break-out’ season to look forward to? Will our still lofty expectations, lifted outrageously high for so long by one lone, stubborn but brilliant Frenchman, experience the ultimate re-set?

Will we ultimately come to regret that tumultuous, hasty and unplanned  clean-break with Arsene Wenger after all? 

Have the red flags already been flying for longer than most realise?

About ArsenalAndrew

Optimist and lifelong supporter of the finest football club the world has ever seen.

33 comments on “Red Flags Over Arteta

  1. actually we do NOT all like or support him. I never wanted him appointed in the first place, preferring a tried and tested ‘big name’ manager. I would disagree at every turn with PosG on twitter. But I would be told I clearly did not understand football, despite watching it for 64 years. The FAC was an anomaly in a generally inept spell of management.. My son chastised me when I said sack Arteta in the summer, he now realises what I saw. Some one who’s ego obliterates any logical reasoning, especially over out of form players. He over thinks too, or as I prefer it, tries to be clever, with repeated and unnecessary team selection changes. He MUST go in the summer and not be allowed to waste further limited resources. There is talent in our players but it is badly prepared and managed


  2. This is exactly the way I feel about Arteta the fact he is rooted to past glory days does make you want it to happen for him. The fact we took a punt on a young guy trying to make his way in management rather than one that has sloshed around in the pig swill of lucrative deals to sign and lucrative deals to leave. Of course the hair probably comes into the equation even if you didn’t realise it.
    Was the biggest mistake letting Wenger go without a transition with the new manager and other staff. Who can doubt that he had something to offer and one assumes that he saw plenty of writing on the walls in his final years.
    The future with or without Arteta? I really don’t know, I just hate this low expectation going into every game and feeling that mid table is it season after season without a glimmer of light flickering.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you Andrew – a terrific piece and one that so accurately sums up most of my feelings about it all. You’ve absolutely smashed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve just captured everything that I have felt regarding our team Arsenal. Yes, he says it’s performances on the training field that determine who will play but we’ve seen time and again that it is not true all the time as he feels that some players are undroppable no matter how they play week in week out. What may eventually be Arteta’s undoing is his loyalty to some senior players that are already full and gave nothing to prove. Solution? Go with the youth that are hungry to prove a point!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A brilliant read Andrew,
    I think however the current board will give him until the end of next season before releasing him. Like you said this may be to late for many of our talented youngsters.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for an excellent article, most of which I agree with,

    I was in favour of him taking over after Wenger and especially after the Emery shambles.

    However, he has proved to be an even bigger mistake than Emery.

    I won’t go into my views on this as I have said it many times in many posts.

    The primary blame goes on the owners who turfed Wenger out without proper preparation,

    They then compounded that by appointed Emery, who misled them and the fans and eventually was removed by the players as much as anyone else.

    Arteta looked like a ray of sunshine but has turned out to be nothing than volcanic ash blocking the sun and destroying everything in its path.

    If the treatment of Ozil was at his behest then this is a man to keep well away from our future.

    2 transfer windows means at least a year.

    How many of us think that there is even the slightest chance that the morons who run our transfer policy will all of a sudden get it right, at a time when there is no money to buy either our players or for us to buy players who might make any difference?

    How many of us really want to see the rubbish being served up week in week out for another year or more?

    I agree that our future rests not on whom we may buy, but on the considerable talent we have growing up in our midst.

    It is clear that Arteta does not want them and would be happy to push them away than nurture them.

    He plays Saka, because he has proved to be an outstanding talent,

    He plays ESR for the occasional game when he has no choice and then eases him out again.

    Arteta is finishing the job that Emery started and it saddens me to see what a resounding failure he has become.

    For those who want to trust the process, are you the same people who bayed for Wenger’s blood? See what has happened as result.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Some excellent points in the article and comments. I would suggest that Arteta is A problem but not THE problem. That is the ownership, in whose ability to identify and appoint the next manager/coach I have zero confidence.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent stuff AA.
    Can only echo previous posts on getting rid of Wenger without any sort of tangible plan in place, the more you think about that scenario, the more incredible it seems. Then, the situation compounded by Gazidis leaving , creating a power vacume filled by, erm, Raul.
    Absolutely incredible for what was under Wenger, the best run of clubs.
    I really want Arteta to succeed, I wanted Emery to succeed, but fear the issues at this club go far above either of these two managers , or those mad enough to follow them.
    This club has been neglected by a seemingly complacent owner/board who allowed Wenger to put them on easy street, hoping it would last forever with minimal input, and perhaps effort. They eventually threw money, probably time and resources at things, but that hasnt worked either
    Wenger will likely keep his council, but would be intrigued to know what he really thought of the owners and some of the board, I suspect, not very much

    Liked by 2 people

  9. my biggest problem with Arteta is that he has been in charge 16 or 17 months and for the life of me I have no idea what type of football is the ultimate goal from his team. We won the Cup and Shield playing counter attacking underdog football, which can be very effective in cup competitions, but gets you no where in the league. Arteta has stated that his preferred formation is 4-3-3, but the two formations he has used the most is 5-2-3 and the current 4-2-3-1, but in all those formations the one theme is that the underlying tactic is get as many players behind the ball as often as possible. Risk averse football, and lets not forget the non stop bellowing of instructions from Arteta on the sidelines, or as I call it, paint by numbers football. One journo said after the LFC game on Sunday that Dani Ceballos must have ear ache from all the shouting MA done at him during the game. I’ve always been of the view that there is something wrong with the coaching of any side if the manager/coach has to keep shouting at them during games. For me its this non stop instructions that sees us play so negatively attacking wise, as the best attacking football is played when players are at ease, free of mind, do it instinctively, not paused cos they are trying to figure out what the Manager has just instructed them to do from the sideline.

    As for everything will be great once he gets in his own players, well take a look at our starting 11 on Sunday, Leno was chosen to stay over Martinez, he is in ahead of both goalies signed under Arteta, so he is an Arteta choice, Chambers in ahead of both our best right back, Bellerin, and Arteta signing Cedric, then we had Holding who was going on loan for the season at Newcastle, when the boss decided to keep him, so again his choice of player. Gabriel is an Arteta signing, as is Partey, we know Tierney is a key man in Arteta’s formations and tactics, he is our main attacking outlet. Then we have two more Arteta signings, Ceballos and Odegaard, both on loan but both his signings. Aubameyang was given the captains armband and a spanking new massive contract as a key man for Arteta. That only leave Lacazette and Pepe, well lacazette has started 20 of our 30 EPL games, sub in 6 more, is that the stats of a man Arteta does not want, so in reality Pepe the only starter Arteta might not want, and he only in the team cos Saka was injured.

    I do think that we have had signings, sales and team selections to placate the fans, its why I think both Bellerin and Xhaka(who is automatic first choice starter for Arteta) will both be sold this summer. Two shiny new toys will be brought in to much fanfare by the bloggers and twitteratti and trust the process.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. the article suggests that a group of young players have saved Arteta this season, nothing could be further from the truth, Saka has been a first choice starter, ESR has just the 8 starts, partly down some might say to injury problems, but would it surprise you to know that Nketiah, Martinelli, Willock and Nelson have a combined 8 starts between them, and full England international AMN has 5, which is the same number of caps he has for England this season
    Arteta is not a manager who is keen to throw in the youth, that has to be clear from what we have seen from him so far


  11. Edu’s son Luigi Gaspar made his U18 debut today as a late sub in a 2-2 draw with Southampton


  12. Forgive me for reposting this comment written at the end of the last thread.

    Eduardo: I fear you may well be right about Arteta favouring the old lags rather than the young ones. The question I have about that is what lies behind it, and how much Arteta is free to make his own decisions.

    Take Willian for example. I thought at the time he was a sensible signing: nothing wrong with free transfers when players have still much to give and have deliberately ran down their contracts.

    It hasn’t quite worked out and there were many occasions when it seemed strange he was picked for the starting XI. Was he picked in the hope that he would spring back to real form sooner or later – or was he picked because of some contractural clause that said he must be? Or because he is an old mate of Mikel’s?

    Much was made of the manager’s non-negotiables (a pleasing soundbite and one designed to give out the message of the manager being in charge and whipping the errant and over-indulged players back in line) but are the real non-negotiables the ones that are signed by agents and lawyers?


  13. well foreverheay Arteta said he was picking Willian to try and play him into form. I would also say that Arteta is afraid to go with young players cos as Wenger put it, the one thing you know will happen with young players is mistakes, that will cost you points.
    Arteta knows that if we win the EL this season he is safe for another year and if we get a bit of luck we will win it


  14. Thank you Andrew.

    It was the oversight on Martinez’s passing ability that was so critical in the City Chelsea Liverpool cup games that raised a yellow flag for me. As a call for a team that is built to play out.

    Then the call which I won’t go into but which was easily summarised by yes Troy Deeny and Darren Bent and which led to the horrific slide down the table, problems with the squad, an inability to rotate and rest players even after internationals when key players have travelled and been over played and need to play a crucial mid-week fixture to come, pushing Partey back into the pitch, ignoring too many of the good combos all over the pitch with this squad. More defensive tactics then I would prefer. A worse record then Emery? Bleeding that yellow to a red.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. On tonight’s showing Haaland’s a bit of a pound shop Bendtner…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. A fantastic article Andrew. Enjoyed reading it.


  17. Thank you everyone for all your comments, very interesting reads and many very kind remarks.

    Just to very briefly answer a couple of points:

    silenstan – I was of course wrong to suggest everybody likes Arteta and I don’t claim to speak for all fans. But overall, I think it’s fair to say that personality-wise, Mikel hasn’t, up to now, rubbed the main body of the Arse fans up the wrong way unlike the more corrosive managers still making a living in the league. In other words, most people are still behind him, albeit more and more are asking the difficult questions. And for the record, I was very luke-warm on the Arteta appointment given his lack of experience, and I agree with you, we really did need a manager with substantial experience and even a record of some success.

    Bradybunches – yes, I agree, I think the failure to have any kind of succession planning in place ahead of Wenger’s exit is an error we’ll all regret for some time to come. For some years, Ferguson had a ‘number 2’ running things pitch side as he eased himself out of Man U. Arteta could have made a great, similar ‘number 2’, under Wenger, in my opinion. Ultimately, one has to lay the blame for the failure to plan for life post-Arsene with the owners, although they might point at the club hierarchy’s negligence as the first place to look for answers as to how this could possibly have been allowed to happen.

    Femi – But why does MA retain such loyalty to his more experienced players – specifically Aub, Willian and Pepe? It surely can’t STILL be because he believes they’ll make fewer mistakes than the younger ones? I do wonder that, having dealt with the fallout from Ozilgate, there is now an acute reluctance to risk a re-run of one of the worst PR disasters the club has had to face by provoking his biggest players by frequently dropping them to the bench or the reserves? A substantial run in the reserves may be what some need.

    ianspace – Yes, I agree with you, I think MA will get another full season – or two complete transfer windows to complete his work, this summer and next Xmas. Even the best managers took some time to achieve success so it makes sense to avoid knee-jerk reactions during the early stages, despite the temptations to do so.

    jigsol – I think MA should get at least one more relatively pandemic-free year even if the game is at times hard to watch. It’s noticeable that ALL teams have had their share of ‘surprising’ performances throughout the season so it’s surely to be expected that we are also likely to be struggling in this most unpredictable of seasons – one that even the settled sides have been prone to the odd thrashing or other very unexpected dropped points.

    eduardo792 – just to clarify, I said Arsenal’s youngsters saved the club from hitting the buffers of the relegation end of the league around Xmas, not that they have saved the entire season. Try reading more carefully rather than make claims about what you’ve read as being far ‘from the truth’. By all means disagree, but it’s always good to understand what it is you are disagreeing with first.

    Cheers everybody – fingers crossed for a great run in to the end of season.


  18. Lord Bentner to me and you Tim.
    Ed, the saving by the youth obviously all came from the chelski game which was critical in both managers security.
    I would say it not about the amount of games the youngsters have played but the impact they have had in those games.
    Remember we haven’t actually won many games this season or scored many goals so impact in one game is a much higher percentage.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Great post Andrew. You write very well!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Anyone watch our tormentors play Madrid last night?

    Fun but painful at same time. Didn’t know what to expect from Madrid having not seen them this year, missing cb’s, and vague impression I had of decline. They were excellent. Midfield three is one for the ages in my book.

    I was keen to see if Pool played with any of the aggression they showed against us and, nope, barely a trace. No buffeting or more if opponent had body between them and ball, no stepping on ankles/feet. On handful of occasions they tried, ref duly and correctly gave free kick every time.

    That ensured a clean contest, based on skill, and Madrid looked well ahead for most part and played some lovely stuff. Really caught my eye how many of the best moves featured brave one and two-touch football, the hallmark for me of best technique and something necessary to excel at highest level.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Stillarich – yes I remarked yesterday to someone how few free kicks ‘poo were getting, the ref simply ignored their play-acting for the most part and they just could not get in the game as a result. Does make you wonder whether our home-grown ‘refs’ should all be sacked off in favour of foreign ones who don’t give a shit about English reputations.


  22. ArsenalAndrew

    Always feel sheepish complaining about refs when we play as poorly as that, and also didn’t trust my judgement for that game (bad mood going in and then, well, game felt bad right away), but, despite feeling pretty scrambled throughout, I’m pretty sure ref did a serious number on us.

    Impossible to know how it would have gone with reffing like Pool experienced last night, wouldn’t have us anything like favourites but odds would be much better (or exist!)


  23. Not masochistic enough to rewatch it but impression was that when we tried playing it upfield, especially to someone with back to goal, Pool player committed every time, regardless of whether could win it before making contact with player. Helped them smother us, bash us about, hurry us, etc etc.

    The degree to which they changed from a tactic that was so successful is to me precisely the degree to which their play was legitimate, as well as degree pgmol ‘tactics’ aren’t.

    Why would you completely change an approach which worked incredibly successfully days before?


  24. ian and andrew, my point on the youths is that its only Saka and ESR that have any impact this season, Arteta just does not play the youths, AMN, Willock, Nelson, Nketiah and Martinelli have barely played, yet somehow there is this notion that Arteta gives youth a chance,

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Tierney is out for up to six weeks, no surgery required on his ligament injury, a big blow to our chances in the EL this season
    will it be saka or cedric at left back


  26. It’s another big European tie for us this week, and Mikel Arteta was back in front of the media on Wednesday.

    Our manager discussed Slavia Prague, Kieran Tierney, Lucas Torreira, Gary Neville’s criticism and more.

    Read on for a full transcript:

    on whether the UEL is all or nothing…
    This competition is all or nothing because when you play a tie, you are in or you are out. We want to be in the semi-finals and we know how important the game is for us.

    on chances of Champions League qualification via PL being gone…
    Until it’s mathematically impossible, you have to fight. There is no other way to do it. We have to be realistic with where we are in the league and it’s extremely difficult. But it’s mathematically possible so we have to stick to that.

    on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang…
    We rely on every player in the squad to give their best, to give their maximum and perform on the pitch at the level that is required at this club.

    on Kieran Tierney’s injury…
    We have to first make sure that he doesn’t need any surgery, which it doesn’t look like. If that’s the case, the timeframe will be around [four to six weeks]. It could have been worse because the action looks quite scary but he’s feeling better and the damage is not that bad. At the end of the day, it’s not the bad news that maybe we were expecting after the game.

    on whether Tierney will play again this season…
    I don’t know, we’re going to have to go day by day to see how Kieran is feeling, how he is reacting. When we get close to playing time and training with the team, depending where we are and how he’s feeling, we’ll make a decision.

    on whether Tierney will be OK for the Euros…
    Again, it will depend on how things evolve in the next few weeks. He’s so keen to play for us before the end of the season and he’s extremely keen to represent his country in the Euros.

    on Martin Odegaard’s chances of playing on Thursday…
    Again, we will assess today how he’s feeling. He’s been carrying an injury for the last two or three days since he got injured with the national team. We have a few of them from the last game when we played Liverpool, so today will be the day where we see where everybody is at, and look at who is available tomorrow.

    on Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Granit Xhaka…
    Today is the day when they are going to be training fully with the team and we’ll see how they feel.

    on whether the club have reached out to Lucas Torreira…
    Of course we contacted him. We have spoken to him and we know how difficult a time this is for him. He was really attached to his mum and he’s really attached to his family. It’s a hard time for him and emotionally there is a lot of thoughts that will go through his mind. When things are like that, it’s not the moment to make decisions.

    on Torreira’s desire to return to South America…
    I understand. I understand how he’s feeling emotionally. He probably feels the need and responsibility to be closer to his family. But it’s not the moment to make any decisions and it certainly is a decision that has to be made by different parties. Now, nothing is going to change. It’s just an interview with some comments. Let’s see what happens.

    on striking the balance between a player’s desires and the club’s financial needs…
    It’s something that’s very common because players go through different stages in their careers with emotional moments. These things happen and we have to deal with that. We know that when you recruit a player from a foreign country, when they have that struggle sometimes to adapt to a new culture, a new language, a new way of doing things. This risk is there and then you have to be able to manage that risk and make the right decisions at the right time.

    on Willian’s first season and how he feels about it…
    I think we can reach a higher performance level because his potential is so big. He needs the contribution to the team and the team to be stable in order to provide what he needs to express himself on the pitch. It’s true that in recent weeks we’ve seen a much better version of him and his contribution when he is playing has been really positive. So it’s going to be crucial, his form, for the performance of the team in the last two months.

    on whether we’ll have to change how we build attacks without Kieran…
    Yes. We’re going to have to make some adjustments because his qualities are unique and we don’t have anybody with his qualities within the squad unless we start to move a lot of pieces. Without any time to train, it is a little bit dangerous to do. But we’re going to have to find different ways to fulfil that gap and use other things that can be as effective as well.

    on whether he considers using Bukayo there or if he worries it can unbalance other areas of the team…
    That’s the reality. You have to change something and you have to find a different way of attacking. At the same time, the structure when you are defending and in transitional moments has to be stable and has to be done by players that are comfortable doing that. We knew that position was a weakness around the squad, because we didn’t have anybody to replace Kieran, and we have to find different solutions.

    on why we didn’t sign anyone in January…
    We could not do anything in that window. We decided to let Kolasinac out on loan as well and that’s the decision that we made.

    on whether we’ll go out if we play like we did against Liverpool…
    I don’t want to think that we’re going to play the way that we did. Every game is completely different and I want to think that we can play at the level that we played at against other opponents this year. Then we’ll have a great chance to be in the next round.

    on whether he pulls his hair out at the sudden fluctuations in performances…
    Yes, I do. I’ve got to find that and it doesn’t happen again.

    on criticism from Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher of some of our players…
    No response. I think we have to respect every opinion and when there is criticism coming after the way we played against Liverpool, we have to take it on the chin because it’s fully deserved for the way that we played. It’s no time to respond, it’s time to talk on the pitch and show what we can do. When we are at full gas, that is a lot.

    on whether Auba has to start playing better…
    I think the whole team and myself have to put in better performances than we did against Liverpool, that’s for sure.

    on whether he thinks we will progress to the next round…
    We have a really difficult opponent, if you see how they came into this position, they completely merit that. They’ve done it in a really specific way and a really efficient way and it will be a challenge, that’s for sure.

    on whether the back three is left behind or if he will consider it again…
    The team has to have the flexibility to adjust when it’s needed. Sometimes because of what the opposition is doing and sometimes just to adapt the quality of the players that we have. Sometimes because opponents cannot just predict what we are going to do. So there are different ways of doing that and we have to be flexible.

    on Gary Neville’s comments…
    Listen, I don’t read or listen. Obviously, I need to be aware of what has been said. The only thing I’m saying is where there is the one from Gary or Jamie or whoever is talking about us, after the performance that we had against Liverpool we have to be mute and we have to perform. That is the only thing that we have to do.

    on if he’s seen the right reaction in training…
    Absolutely. Yes.

    on how that plays out…
    I cannot criticise the hard work or the ethic of my players. I have never done it. Whether we are more efficient or not, whether we win enough duels or not. It’s not about they don’t want to run or they don’t want to try. There are areas where we have limitations, there are areas where we’re inconsistent but there are areas where we can do really, really well. My demands is just to be hitting those goals and to achieve our best level every single day. Whether it’s in training or in a football game and in the last two days again, I’ve seen that. I didn’t see anything different. That’s why it was a big shock to the system, what happened against Liverpool. Because of the training that we showed since December but probably it’s part of the journey. Sometimes a punch or a big slap in the face is a good thing to go back to reality.

    on the areas the players need to improve in…
    Again, going back to the performance the other day. It’s every single area. We have to do much better. I cannot discuss here the specific things that we need to do better. We need to pick up a result, pick up the best possible performance because that’s going to allow us to get the result that we want. That’s all I’m interested in in the next six or seven weeks.

    on Slavia Prague…
    They are a really strong side. They’ve been unbeaten in the league. You see how they have the ball. I think in the last few years, competing at the highest level, they’ve always been in the game and made it really difficult. [They’re] really competitive, brave, very direct and incisive and a team that can cause you problems throughout the game. They never give up, they have a top attitude all the time and that’s why they beat teams because they’re a really good side.

    on the difference between Slavia Prague and other opponents this season…
    It’s very specific, very creative, some of the things that they do. And some rare things that you don’t see in a lot of teams. I would describe them as a really brave team.

    on if any players have caught his eye…
    I would like to highlight the collective performance they put in. Obviously, they have some really good individuals, they have had some really good players that they’ve sold in recent years. The market is looking at them because they’ve been a really good side. We know that they have some really interesting players there.

    Copyright 2021 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source.


  27. Ed, can’t speak for AA but I thought the point wasn’t what Mikel wanted which you were correct about but more the emphasis on the change of fortunes (again mainly the chelski game) because we are talking about a few number of games and a few players within those games it was only two youth players but the impact was massive. So they did save his arse at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Eduardo – after a wretched autumn, culminating in three defeats and a draw in the first 3 weeks of December, Arsenal enjoyed a youngster-led revival starting towards the end of the month, culminating the end of January. The revival comprised 5 wins and 2 draws plus defeat to Southampton in the cup.

    It commenced with the defeat of Chelsea on the 26th of December followed with wins against Brighton, WBA, Newcastle, Southampton and draws against Palace and Man U. We went out of the FA Cup to Southampton before beating them in the league a few days later at St Mary’s.

    During this period the following youngsters made various appearances – Martinelli, Saka, ESR, Willock, Nelson, Maitland Niles, and Nketiah. Additionally, they were ever-present on the subs bench, throughout.

    It was generally recognised at the time that three players, in particular, had a transformative impact on performances – Martinelli, Saka and ESR. Had we lost to Chelsea we would have been close to the relegation places, just off the bottom 3, and it was that, at that time, that the Arsenal youngsters saved Arteta from having to face.

    I certainly agree that MA could have played more of the kids, more often – indeed, that is one of my central points. But to say he has ignored them entirely is not accurate as that period from the Chelsea win through to the draw with United demonstrates.


  29. What youth team players has arteta given first team debuts in his time as manager?

    Struggling to think of 1.

    Emery gave debut to Saka i think. All the rest were Wenger i think.


  30. It is also worth noting that ESR and Saka were tested in the saints loss when Mikel reverted to his older players and by default our poor form.


  31. I still have hopes that Joe Willock will return next season and have a role to play. I would also like to see Callum Chambers play in midfield, which I think he did quite well in a loan spell for Fulham a few years ago. I can’t see him doing it any worse than Cebalos or Partey.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. I think Callum needs to be given a decent chance to forge a partnership with Bob or even reforge as their partnership for the England youth sides was very successful. Although I do think Mari is the best CB at the club however CB’s are all about partnership.
    I also would love to see Joe and many other Youth players given a real chance but as others have pointed out that seems unlikely while Mikel is in situe.
    On tonight’s game it’s great to see the magic three back and I think we will win even though we have shown some pretty poor performances domestically and in Europe.
    Prague have shown some great resilience against Rangers but more importantly against Leicester and I can’t see any result finishing the tie tonight.
    Apart from the magic three I would imagine Hector will come back in with Cedric on the left and hopefully Mari to replace Gabriel.
    Captain Granite and Thomas will Anchor midfield with ESR and Saka coming back at number 10 and wide right respectively.
    The other two positions are guesswork really, does Mikel continue with Auba on the left and Laca up front or any of the combinations using Martinelli, Pepe or Willian this is assuming MO doesn’t make it or he doesn’t go blindside with Eddie or/and Reiss.
    This will show whether Mikel will pick on form or continue to pick and fail with reputation.
    As I always say whatever the team COYG.


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