Wenger’s legacy is fundamental. Free flowing, attacking football by a club with integrity and class.

Disaster For Arteta and Arsenal at Villa

Mikel Arteta was the hero after Liverpool and City but questioned after Villa.

After humongous victories against Liverpool and Manchester in successive premier league and FA cup matches an Arsenal side, with pretensions to a top-7 European place, traveled to the Midlands on Tuesday  to meet a relegation threatened Aston Villa. Despite desperately in need of a win to keep alive their slim chances of qualifying for the Europa League, the Gunners were left with their tail between their legs after succumbing to a one-nil defeat without registering a single direct shot on the Villa goal.

Mahmoud Ahmed Ibrahim Hassan aka Trezeguet rifled home his third goal in as many matches after 27 minutes when Conor Hourihane’s corner was flicked into his path by Tyrone Mings.

Moments after Villa substitute Keinan Davis fired a great chance for a second wide, Arsenal nearly found an equaliser when Eddie Nketiah’s 77th-minute header came back off the inside of the post before bouncing kindly into Pepe Reina’s hands.

The game can be summarized as one where Aston Villa sat back, clogged the middle and counter-attacked when possible, with Arsenal needing to take the initiative but lacking the technical nous and imagination to break down the low-block and create chances. Not a good day at the office.

My friend Omar Javed was not able to do his usual match report but his comments on Twitter during the game is a recitation of the concerns he and this blog have had since the season resumed in mid-June.

From an Arsenal point of view this defeat was the the culmination of a series of humiliations over the season. Losing to Villa meant the club is guaranteed to fall to its lowest position in the English top-flight in 25 years. Coming 12th in the 95/96 was a low-point which portended the arrival of Arsene Wenger two years later.

Six months ago Mikel Arteta was given the challenge of turning around the good ship Arsenal after the disastrous tenure of Unai Emery. After today’s game the enormity of the task he faces lay bare for all to see with criticisms and concerns already rising to the fore.

All is not lost however. Hope springs eternal as the Gunners will have another crack at Europe when they meet Chelsea in the FA cup final at the end of the month. Football is a game full of surprises.



  1. Since we’re quoting tweets, I’ll just quote one of mine in response.

    “For all the improvement we’ve made playing out under pressure, our passing is just bad.

    Too much focus on preparing for the opponent and not enough on establishing a consistent style? Even if that’s the case, probably justified in the context of this season”

    It was a horrid performance yesterday. Worse than anticipated though I was expecting something of a drop off after the emotional high of last week. I hinted at it in the preview when I said I don’t much care who plays nor even how we play. Just a win. Which of course we didn’t get. The coaching is not the issue here if we’re talking longer term.

    • I suspect if I had to do your job and write a preview I would resurrect your tweets and blog posts since June. LOL. None of us on this blog (and podcasts) have been convinced by the performances of Arsenal since the restart. We have tried to be cheery and optimistic but the way we’ve been playing leaves a lot to be desired. Covering it up with faux optimism won’t help Arteta or Arsenal in the long run.

      • I’ve not tried to be anything. I’ve seen enough from our players and our coach to believe we can aim for the title in 2 seasons. I don’t care how ridiculous or faux optimistic that sounds.

        I’ve also seen more than enough from Raul to say that he and Kia Joorabchian are going to make it really difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the team’s potential.

        The thing is, part of Arteta’s job is dealing with that reality. I don’t want him to meekly submit the way Emery did. I also don’t expect open rebellion. That doesn’t help the cause either.

        • It is a tricky balance between beIng optimistic and legitimately being critical of some of Arsenal’s performances under Arteta. I remember us being ecstatic about how the team was set up vs City in contrast to yesterday. I think there is now a growing realization we are not good enough to go toe to toe with great teams like Liverpool and City. For the same reason we are not good enough to go on the front foot and defeat mediocre teams that sit deep in a low block inviting us to attack. That is a challenge for Arteta if we are to become title contenders.

  2. The problem is simple.

    The club is continuing to self-destruct.

    The disastrer created by Emery, is now being repeated by Arteta.

    You drop your best player, because ………………..!!!!!!, who knows?

    We can park the bus, but we can’t take it anywhere.

    There is no creativity and our strikers have no one to provide the imprtant passes to them.

    Why would Auba and Laca stay in such circumstances?

    The 30 minutes I saw on Tuesday were amateurish and unispriring.

    The joke is, we will, very likely, beat Chel$ki, because, in reallity they are not much better.

    The fanfares will blast and everyone will congratulate themselves for creating a non-team.

    • That is a dreadful scenario you paint JJG. But frankly we cannot dismiss the worst case scenario from our thinking.

      Realistically, even if we are in the Europa League I foresee drastic austerity for Arsenal next year. For years, despite not being funded by a sugar-daddy, Arsenal finances was based on a Champions League model; e.g. 3rd or 4th in salaries or expenses. With the corona virus causing indefinite restrictions on stadium attendance,and peanuts from the Europa League I expect the Kroenkes to demand more belt-tightening next year. I expect some serious departures in the off-season and no equivalent or better replacements. Just wait and see.


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