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Arsenal Showed No Ambition vs Man City

Match Report by @omijaved: Bukayo Saka was the most ambitious gunner at Manchester City.

The end of transfer window saga saw Arsenal fans rejoice at yet another piece of transfer silverware through the signing of Partey, but the real showdown was in waiting against the mighty Manchester City, with a chance to either come back down to earth or elevate even more into the high lands of Mikel Arteta’s dream.

This game had a lot of talking points in the build up. But it got dominated by the media hype surrounding the biography of our most successful and most loyal servant and his interviews. In fact, this whole thing saw Ozil get more mention in the lead-up to the game than Partey.

But despite the distractions, this game had mainly to do with one little question; “Has Arsenal closed the gap on Manchester City?”

Add to this is the fact that after such a heavy investment in the last 2 windows, we can now finally start calling this Mikel Arteta’s team.

But what we saw on Saturday, hardly gave us a sense of progression.

The basic thing we expect from an Arsenal side is to go in every game with an ambition to win it. But this Arsenal seems alien to that fact. For now, we go to these games with an ambition to get a draw or a lucky goal on the break to win it. (The FA Cup winning philosophy)

But against City, that ambition lasted only for 23 minutes, when Foden’s simple touch on the inside, left Bellerin for dead and Leno’s save from the shot could only get parried as far as Sterling who stroked the ball into the bottom left corner to give City the lead and eventually the winner.

The rest of game was more a show of City’s inability to kill the game off despite all their chances and Arsenal’s effort’s to make the game as neutral as possible by playing deep, slow and unimaginative football. At times, it felt like it was Gunners who were leading the game rather than the other way around.

Gunners too negative

The Gunners were too negative against a side that just recently shipped 5 against Leicester City. And no disrespect to Leicester, but Arsenal possess better forward line then the Foxes, but the difference between them is that one is unafraid to attack where as the other is too concerned about his defence.

On any other day, Saka would have scored that chance or Auba would have beaten Ederson from a tight angle or referee would have given us a penalty and the narrative would have been positive despite the numbers actually telling us a different story. We have already seen such things happen under Arteta. But just like Liverpool game, here too the result was a clear reflection of the performance.

My main observation from the game is City were better than us because we let them be. They were missing De Bruyne and their defense has not played much together. We still created two big chances without ever going on the front foot and City failed to finish us even though they were given ample space to dominate us. Maybe I am wrong, but we will never know because we never tried to hurt them.

Line-up sets the tone

Many say that your lineup usually sets the tone of the game and on Saturday it felt true. The Gunners front-3 appeared a positive sign but for some reason Willian was playing as a False 9 instead of Aubameyang, with Lacazette (our highest scorer this season) dropped to the bench.

It raises many questions. Some on tactical side, some on Arteta’s thinking of the game and most importantly some on Willian’s purpose in this side as well. It seems he was signed to replace the need for Mesut Ozil in the team. But the Brazilian simply lacks the technical ability to do that. And in short span he has already been tried in multiple positions playing multiple roles, without seeming at home in any one of them.

Another man who looked lost on the night was our record signing. Pepe’s problem under Emery was that the side was never set in a way to get the best out of him. He was always too far from the action to make any kind of impact in the final third. Sadly, under Arteta it feels like Deja Vu but in a different way; the team is set-up to be very left aligned, leaving Pepe isolated on the right.

People will say that Gunners expected to lose and its a progress that we lost after a close game (in terms of scoreline) but the fact is that despite only one goal in it, Arsenal never looked like creating, let alone score  a single goal in the second half. It felt like a slow death of ambitious Arsenal and even Partey couldn’t do much to change that. In fact, apart from Saka there was little effort anyway.

Written by Omair Javed aka @omijaved


  1. I did not see the match or intend to see the highlights.

    I have no doubt that it was simply more of the same that we have seen all season and may very well be subjected to for many months to come.

    I am afarid that there are some of us that are whistling ion the wind, whilst our colleagues continue to look at things like Nelson.

    The wishfull thinking and rose-tinted glasses are so strong that when I point out clear facts on other blogs, I am usually ignored.

    Now, not only is Arteta the saviour, but his role has been replaced by Partey, who, so it seems, is not only a defensve midfielder, but a wonderful Ozil type as well.

    Does he also cure the sick and perform miracles?

    I hope for the sake of so many of of our colleagues, he is even partly as good as they think he is.

    If not, who knows what the reaction will be.

    In the meantime, we realists can only st back and watch, and hope.

    • In our podcast, coming out tomorrow, both George and me are of the opinion, that while we may win a few more games than under Emery, don’t expect creative, exciting football under Arteta. After 6 months there is no evidence to suggest that Arteta will go in that direction.

  2. For me Arteta is walking a very thin line regarding working with a plan B.
    I mean what happens when we have a few unexpected defeats to teams we are supposed to defeat.

    I mean even the best Wenger teams had bad patches and when a Wenger team went through a bad patch, we tightened up defensively played a bit narrower and deeper.
    This is Arteta default setup with less technical players, more runners and a refusal for creative instincts.
    He is constantly on the side lines giving instructions so to me seems very rigid and every players has a job and knows what to do.
    I do not see the same willingness to allow player to be spontaneous as one of his mentors was known for.
    Guardiola is very active on the touch line and he seems just as hands on but i see Guardiola’s team win lose or draw are not afraid to express them selves and their football philosophy to the world.

    The philosophy i see that Arsenal are trying to express is the spirit of Evertons David Moyes teams, where Arteta was an important cog!!

    Disclaimer – I liked Arteta as a player, have not made my mind up on him as a manager yet as he has been a manager for a short time.
    Some hope and say that he was mentored by 2 of the greatest managers in the game and surely some of that magic dust will rub of on Arteta. I also see he was managed by Moyes for a while and was a important part of that system.
    I say what i see

    • Thank you Gee for saying it like it is. Unlike other Arsenal platforms this is one site that is not afraid to criticize Arteta as much as we praised him earlier. Too much political correctness and sycophancy among too many Arsenal fans. Very unhealthy.

  3. I agree with you both.

    So many fans are so desperate for Arteta to succeed, they may deluding themselves that he is going in the right direction.

    I fear he is not but would love it if he succeeds.

    I also fear that he is allowing himself to be used by the hierarchy as a weapon against Ozil and is so desperate to keep his job he is prepared to tow the line.

    If ozil is omitted from the EPL list it will be shameful and he will have to accept the brunt of the criticism.

    Unfortunately, too many fans have jumped on the anti-ozil bandwagon, so perhaps he has decided there is no risk of alienating the fans.

    We find ourselves in a very sorry state at present and a few more poor performances and bad results will be devastating, in my view.

    However, I feel that this is the only place I can say things like this without either being totally ignored or insulted.

    • Too many fans are in denial. Some observers have no choice but to toe the line. They depend on having access to the Arsenal management to make living. The Kroenkes and Arteta have proven they will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who refuses to bow and submit to their will as evident by their treatment of Ozil. The backlash to this draconian style of management is bound to be equally as harsh. After denial comes anger. Unless we keep winning, the situation at the club could get messy. Newton’s law about action and reaction comes to mind.


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