When football season came to a halt due to COVID-19 outbreak, a selfish part in me rather hoped that this season be called null and void. Let’s be honest, with Arsenal on track for their worst season in the Premier League era and Liverpool top of the tables, it would been for the better good. But frankly, with the passing of time, I missed football and especially I missed watching Arsenal play and stopped caring about who wins the damn thing.
After such a long break Arsenal on the night were undercooked both tactically and physically with players dropping to the ground like mere flies. Any tactical setup that Arteta had in mind never came to fruition, in part because of the wrong lineup and also because inside the first 5 minutes, he ended up losing probably his best midfielder.
Arteta decided to go with all muscle and work rate over technical flair and skills on the night. The whole setup was very much reminiscent of his predecessor bringing back some painful memories for us fans. The idea was to soak it all up in defence, work tirelessly in midfield and then free Nketiah and Aubameyang in promising positions. Over the course of 90 minutes, it’s hard to fight Arteta’s case as not a single thing ever materialized. And the lack of playmakers on the pitch only made Arsenal look like a one trick pony.
And just like the prior fixture, City ran away with 3-0 scoreline to their name, which could have been even much worse if it had it not been for Leno. At times he was the only thing standing between City and the goal. In the 1st half alone he denied 3 to 4 good chances especially those that fell to Silva and Mahrez.
At the 45th minute mark, despite two injuries suffered, it’s fair to say we looked okay. Not in control of the game but at least we had not conceded. But all of that changed in one moment of sloppiness from our high profile summer signing, David Luiz. Initially he was dropped by Arteta, amid contract talks, and only came on because of an injury to Mari. His failure to cope with simple knee height ball into his path was tragic to say the least as he gifted Sterling his first goal of the year. Unfortunately, it was not to be his last trick of the night.
From then on it was clear that any tactical plan Arteta had went out of the window because once you chose such a lineup and you find yourselves behind it’s hard to come back.
In many way, this game can be described as David Luiz’s 26 minutes of madness. He came, he saw and he faltered. One mistake leading up to goal followed by one stupid foul in the box resulting in penalty that De Bruyne dispatched and which also saw him get a red card to top it up. If this was his audition for a new contract then we all hope that Arteta sees some light in this matter. Our defence has become so awful that Mustafi has emerged as it’s new leader. Think about that for a second.
New performance lows
In whole 90 minutes, Arsenal failed to produce a single shot on target for first time since 2017. On the other hand, we conceded 12 shots on target, never seen since 2015. In the end Arsenal ended up recording 33% possession.
To me it brings into question the tactical reasons why Arteta decided not to go with players like Ozil, Pepe, Ceballos and Martinelli.
Every outfield player seemed like a passenger in the game with anyone hardly doing anything of note. It’s one thing to play high performing youth ahead of seniors but it’s entirely different when they fail to produce any thing of note.
They say that in Bundesliga playing in front of empty grounds has wiped off the home advantage, but credit to Arsenal for making it a routine affair as so called ‘fat De Bruyne’ ran through us like a knife through butter.
Arsenal failed to controlled any aspect of it and as the night grew so did our misery on the pitch and City’s dominance. At times it felt like a child’s play for them. And it was only fitting that City ended up scoring a 3rd goal within the 11 minutes of stoppage time after an awful injury to City’s youngster Garcia.
Maybe am too harsh on Mikel Arteta’s tactics and our play, considering it came after such a long break. But part of me can’t escape the feeling that it all started from his team selection and then injuries just made it worse. This was his chance to show how he is different from his predecessor. But, sadly, Arteta on the night reprised an all too familiar picture; the omitting of Ozil from the team structure and the lack of ambition and imagination shown on the football pitch. Maybe he had too much time to think.
Anyways Arsenal is back and in full flow with all the high drama and hope crushing moments that goes with them. A simple one step towards filling our empty lives back again with what we love.
Written by Omair Javed aka @omijaved (Technical problems with WordPress prevent the correct byline)
IMO a very good job by Omi. He told it like it is, uncensored. Maybe he was too hard on Arteta but if we keep playing like this we will barely make top-8. Who will get the blame then?
I’m in agreement and I don’t think it was too hard on Arteta. It really does seem that Arteta had been getting advice from Emery. I’m not sure why he thought a bunch a kids were going to beat City?!
Think of it, they were really only concerned about one Arsenal player the whole game, while Arsenal had to be worried with just about every City player; Of course they are going to just keep attacking.
Can we get Lacazette, Pepe, Ózil in the team and let’s go from there. These are some of our best players that will keep teams on their toes. I think Nketia is coming along nicely but I don’t see where he is more of a threat than Lacazette?
Come on Arteta!
Good to see you back in the place Paul. Hope you and your family are doing well in these testing times. Arsenal’s football last night was not inspiring but at least it gave a sense of some return to normalcy. Small mercies and all that,
Bredrin, wah gwaan!
We are well, thanks. I hope the same for you and yours.
Bredda! Yes, the normalcy is good. I just don’t want that go back to what we normally saw under Unai. I know it’s the first game but I was worried when Unai dropped Ózil due to “tactical reasons”, and it’s the same with Arteta. . If Ózil is such a bad player Arsenal need to let him go. The thing is we saw nothing to suggest it made sense. There were countless passes that were off. Sure the team is rusty but City started to string passes together. One great lass can change a game and for me that is why Ózil must play. No one else in the team can do what he can.
I have been thinking and it seems to me Arteta’s plans and tactics must have been drastically altered when Xhaka went down in the 8th minute. Think about it. He is our best passer, next to Ozil, and once he departed there was nobody who could pass the ball forward to the attackers on a consistent basis. Think we underestimate how critical this loss was.
Completely agree with your point regarding that they were only really concerned about one player the whole game and the reality is that with the midfield that we had, we couldn’t even find him and play him in good positions to make him a threat.
That team could only had a chance to get something out of the game if Man City really had a shocker and we a blinder. You don’t just plan a game like that. Without exempting any kind of authority in midfield how can you really push Man City into positions and scenarios they don’t like? We played right into their hands and frankly if you compare the game with the one we had played against them in Emirates this season, you won’t find much difference.
I think this is a bit harsh. We know Arteta isn’t like Wenger. Neither does he have the same experience. Lots of mitigating circumstances too.
A long break. Two injuries to players who help pass it from deep. Both left footed as well. It also seems the drama around ozil is a bit unwarranted. We’ll see if it is an issue that continues through the season. I wonder if it’s to do with him refusing the pay cut. Arteta could take it as an insult. Though somehow I doubt he’s that petty.
The most disappointing thing was how we gave up. Well, apart from David Luiz’s performance. What a disaster that was.
Not a game we were ever likely to win. Stil 30 points to go for this season. And the FA Cup. Hopefully we’ll be better than this.
Yeh bro! Couldn’t agree more. I just can’t wrap my mind around this team selection. I’m a big fan of Arteta all the same, and I trust him to turn it around but this was rubbish.
Looks like Arteta’s answer to the desert in midfield and the loss of Xhaka is play Saka in there! Great shot off the bar.
Only Raul can hold Saka back from starring for Arteta’s Arsenal.
Major snafu today. No preview. The tight schedules for the rest of the season will be a major challenge but we shall find a way.
Today’s loss to Brighton has left me numb. I think it mostly came from observing the team huff and puff without any expectation of them producing anything special to separate the men from the boys. Under Wenger we may have conceded stupid goals but we had something special that often allowed us to pull the fat from the fire. Not today, not yesterday, Tomorrow?
I was moved to make the following tweet:
“#BRIARS: We got rid of Wenger for this? After 30 games, only 40 points or 1.33 points per game (ppg). In 2018, Wenger’s worst season, Arsenal did 1.66 ppg, and that was him without Santi and Per. No thanks to the idiots on social media for destroying our club.”