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Arteta needs To Prioritize

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So in the most recent podcast by yours truly and Blackburn George, we made the somewhat radical suggestion that for the rest of this year Arteta and Arsenal should forget about top-4/top-6 in the league and focus on the cups. By the way, winning the Europa League would be a ticket to the champions league, although that was not the point we were trying to make. Our concern, after trying to be as objective as possible, was the squad was not strong enough to make a decent run in three tough competitions between now and May and that Arteta needed to prioritize.

From the onset of that discussion in the pod, we both agreed that this position would not be popular among Arsenal fans.

Arteta can walk on water

It is clear to me the current mood among the vast majority among Gooners is Arteta can walk on water. I sense a feeling he can transform the fortunes of the club just as he did after the infamous last minute “trolley-dash” at the start of the 2011-12 season. Prior to his arrival, there was a familiar mood of pessimism around the club after the 8-2 shellacking by Manchester United with Fabregas and Nasri bolting for greener pastures. Arteta was the player central to restoring stability and driving us to top-4 at the end of the season.

Similarly during the “Emery-degeneracy” many fans had lost almost all belief in the club. Pessimism was at a new low. Seven straight games without a victory and there was the prospect of being dragged into a relegation scrap half-way into the season. But the mood has swung almost 180 degrees since Arteta’s appointment as head coach in early December.

There has been a clear transition to a more attractive brand of football with improvements in both attack and defense. As a result the pendulum has swung dramatically in favor of those who believe that a march up the tables to top-6 or even top-4 is imminent. Such feelings are always heightened after defeating the old northern “enemy” Manchester United as we did at the turn of the New Year.

We share the much of the optimism about Arteta’s appointment. In fact George was one of his most fervent advocates, using his blog and twitter to loudly bang for his appointment to succeed Arsene Wenger. But as we frequently observed in almost all our podcasts since September, replacing Emery would be no “quick-fix” to changing the fortunes of our club, regardless of the caliber of coach appointed.

Decimation of the squad

Not only was the coaching and tactics a disaster and completely inimical to the Arsenal-Way but I would argue more profound damage had been done to the club over the past 18 months in terms in terms of transfers-in and transfers-out. The playing squad had been decimated as a result of decisions made by the executives of the club led by director of football operations Raul Sanllehi.

This was most exemplified by the decisions in the summer of 2019 to eviscerate the club of its most experienced and accomplished veteran players.
• Ramsey, 28 yo
• Koscielney, 33 yo
• Monreal, 33 yo
• Mikhitaryan, 30 yo

Add to this list are almost all the squad players (Cech, Ospina, Elneny, Welbeck) already out of favor who had their departure hastened. No serious PL team with top-4 expectations can afford to bin all its veterans in one go and expect to seriously compete over a long season.

How much Arteta would give to now have a couple of those veterans able to play at least one game per week to supplement the callow inexperienced youth he currently has on the bench?

Arsenal squad is the youngest

The PL statistics bear me out on this. The current Arsenal squad, at 25.1 years, is the youngest by average among all 20 clubs. Even the supposedly youthful Chelsea, banned from the transfer market, has a squad which is more than one year older. To me it is no surprise that with such a young squad we are struggling for consistency especially when top-players cannot feature.

Source: transfermarkt.com

Kids such as Martinelli, Willock, Reiss-Nelson and Saka will take time to improve. As he has done with Maitland-Niles, Arteta will improve his players but that is not a short term program and no guarantees that their abundant potential will be fully realized. To expect them to be consistent and effective in three competitions over the next five months is not realistic.

Paradoxically some of our best players are now getting long in the tooth. Ozil at 31 years old cannot be expected to runaround as he did in his 20s. It won’t be too long before Aubameyang at 30 yo begin losing a step which is one of the greatest assets of a striker. David Luiz at 32 years old may not need Aubameyang’s explosiveness to be effective but how soon shall the bell toll. Age makes them less effective if Arteta is forced to run them into the ground in the coming months.

Already injuries and suspensions have taken their toll with Torreira and Aubameyang likely to be absent from our next PL matches. Time is already vindicating Blackburn George. Something has to give. Giving equal weight to all competitions will inevitably mean failing at all three. I stand by our recommendation; Arteta needs to prioritize.


  1. pedantic George @arseblaggerJanuary 16, 2020 at 11:47 am

    I agree with everything I said.

  2. Far far too early in his reign for Arteta to prioritize the cups, he first of all has to get the team on a winning run, yes we have seen many signs of an improvement in the way we play, but so far results have not been top notch. Confidence is key to results, and so we first have to get a run of wins to get confidence up, and that will not happen if we are resting guys for cup games.

    By all means if we get to the latter stages of the EL and/or FAC, rotation can and should happen in league games, but till then we have to pick our best 11 available in all games.
    Bellerin and Ceballos are back in full training, Nketiah has been recalled from his loan, so that will help. Some reports that Tierney will be back in a month or so. Aubameyang now gets a short break due to his 3 game ban, so that should help freshen him up.

    We are light at CB and in the fullback positions, Bellerin coming back will help at right back. But in an ideal world we would add 2 or even 3 players this window, one CB, maybe a versatile fullback(one that can play either RB or LB, at the very least one that can play fullback and winger in needed).

    We of course need to have a real slice of luck with injuries, and not lose any more players to injury, but with the PGMOL game managers at work that is much harder said than done.

  3. It’s a reasonable position. The only strong counter-argument is the one Ed makes: that the team needs a string of performances and wins to enhance confidence, and league performances and wins are a major component of that. I’d add that the first-choice XI needs to play together using Arteta’s approach as much a possible so that new habits take hold. It’d be tough to achieve that with significant chopping and changing.

    • The biggest problem for AFC remains the pgMOB.

      It’s possible for City to cope with the handicap against with a deeper squad. Even then I don’t see them getting as many legs broken as a peak arsenal squad. So…

      Shotts is correct and this is what AW did in his last season with his hand forced as he had no choice but to rotate Auba with what became the best weaker league starting eleven in the last month or two of that season. and amidst the incompetence of Emery it’s hard to tell but I speculate that he did the same.

      But this time with Auba starting in the Europa I’d hope the gunners could past an atletico alas Raul has decimated the rest of the squad during his “great summer”, the clown that he is. If Arteta needs to prioritise one thing given this record then it is that he needs help to:


  4. On the kids:
    Interesting news about heading in kids’ footy.

    Now, I would not attempt and fail to accuse the physicians giving this advice of “being against English football.” That would show a serious lack of class amidst ignorance because these people are scientists and what they are saying is the science.

    And good kids coaches have known this since the 1950’s.

    Raheem Sterling is England’s best footballer because his coaches as a kid wanted him to focus on playing football, with his feet. Not exhibiting “pashun” not kicking people on their blindsides when they are looking the other way, etc.

    but upon playing Football.

    I think Eddy is also correct, Arteta will continue to play a strong team for a few weeks, and as Shotts highlights that team includes a high percentage of kids thanks to the genius of Raul.

    The Arsenal’s head of Football decimated the football squad. When there was no need. He had a ready made club captain at the perfect age, and he sold him on a free (even 20 games a season would have been a boost up the table, as everyone saw last year…)

    Raul has got to go!

    • Fins: With respect to the continued mismanagement of the squad by Don Raul, I have been monitoring as best as I can the dispatches by his mouthpiece David Ornstein and it is apparent that our executive of football operations continues to make a fool of himself and the club in the transfer market. According to Ornstein he is looking to bring in anywhere between 2-4 players, none of whom appear to be the top quality required by a club with our aspirations. Seems he is trying to satisfy the transfer addicts while richly rewarding the agents. I am awaiting confirmation of his activity before doing an analysis.

      • The Arsenal need to get the Spanish Peter Risdale the fuck outta the club!

        Get this incompetent buffoon and parasite who showcased his gross stupidity in front of the entire Football World these past 18 months away from this venerable institution.


        As soon as you can.
        The longer he stays the greater the damage. Look at Woodward’s Utd if you are having trouble rubbing those football brain cells together

        • Notice that most bloggers, podcasters and youtubers continue to ignore the pernicious role of Don Raul in weakening the club via his dodgy transfer policy. He has gotten rid of almost all proven veterans. Instead he’s been signing players of dubious quality at astronomic transfer fees that only benefit their agents.


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