Dear friends. It has been a very long time since I wrote a piece for my own blog relying almost exclusively on my friend Shard to generate some very insightful Premier League match previews while I follow up with post-match podcasts featuring the inimitable, outspoken Blackburn George, the Arseblagger. Trust me, this state of affairs is not due to some malign neglect. On the contrary, for the past year I have been consumed by a project, which is far from finished and, until then, leaves me very little time and energy to write.
But the current state of affairs at our beloved football club has dragged me back into the fray, if even just this once.
The spark, the catalyst was the manner of the defeat to Liverpool last Saturday. Laid bare for all to see, except members of the “Cult of Arteta,” was the poverty and shallowness of all Arteta has achieved since taking over as manager in December 2019, that is over 15 months ago. Never before in the modern history of top flight football in England was an Arsenal team thoroughly outplayed at home by the Scousers or Bindippers, am choosing only the most polite nicknames here. Since 1923, this was the worst result at home vs Liverpool by Arsenal, that is, in nearly 100 years.
That was Liverpool's biggest away win at Arsenal since a 4-1 victory in January 1923 in an FA Cup first round replay.
— Michael Reid (@michael_reid11) April 3, 2021
In Arteta’s own words in the post match presser:
“They were much better than us in every department….
“That is my fault …
“I don’t have any excuses.”
Yet despite Arteta taking personal responsibility, no matter how unconvincing, there remains a substantial, if not dwindling body of fans who believe that giving him more time and “trusting the process“ will result in improved performances. This is a manager who took Arsenal to 15th in the table in early December and whose team has contrived to lose 12 matches so far this season. He has managed to set some dubious records in the process:
- Arsenal’s worst start to a league season after 10 games…in 39 years.
- Arsenal lost 10 of their first 23 league games for the first time since 1983-84.
- Arsenal have failed to score in 10 of their PL games this season, second lowest tally compared to 11 blanks for the whole 2005-06 season.
- All 91 teams in English Football League, from lowest to highest division, have more shots than Arsenal in the second half as of Dec. 2020.
- First time Crystal Palace have gone four games unbeaten against Arsenal ever.
- Arsenal failed to score at home against Crystal Palace for the first time ever on Jan. 14, 2021.
- For the first time in 92 years Aston Villa scored 3 and beat Arsenal at home on Nov. 8, 2020. Last time was in 1928.
- Arsenal in July 2020 failed to beat any of the 3 promoted sides away from home for the first time PL history.
- Arsenal as of Nov. 29, 2020 lost to Wolves at home for the first time since 1979 ending a run of 11 straight victories.
- Wolves have done the league double over Arsenal for the first time since 1978-79 season.
- Aston Villa do the double over Arsenal for the first time since 1992-93
(Hat Tip to @afc49invincible for this chain on Twitter)
There is a clear pattern from these unholy records set by Arteta’s team. Mid-table, mediocre clubs are having their way with Arsenal, home and away. Evidently these teams find it relatively easy to stop the Gunners from scoring while maximizing every scoring opportunity they get.
The current league tables confirm this observation; Arsenal is relatively decent in stopping goals (btw Villa with Emi Martinez as GK is far meaner), but, of all the teams in the top-10, Arsenal and Everton score the fewest number of goals. In a sport where goals win matches, it seems Arteta has his priorities wrong or cannot set up a team to emphasize attack as well as defend effectively.
Is it surprising that at home to Liverpool Arsenal had only 3 shot attempts with only 2 on target compared to Liverpool with 16 attempts with 7 on target? Remember the old adage; without a ticket (or several tickets) you can’t win the lottery.
Desperation for Arteta to succeed
Yet fans desperate for Arteta to succeed cling like members of the Flat Earth Society to the mainstream narrative that these are not his players and he needs more time in the transfer market. Yet this is the same manager who let money be no object in getting rid of Ozil (£300K per week in wages for 6-months totaling £7.8 million plus a £6 million payoff at the end), sent out his mate Kolasinanc on loan, as well AMN and Joe Willock not to mention Guendouzi six months earlier. This is the same manager who sold Emi Martinez (now the hero of Aston Villa) for £24 million and kept Leno, splurged £300k per week to resign Auba for 3 years, another £200k per week for Willian’s services, who signed Gabriel for £40 million and Partey for £48 million. Some estimate the squad vs Liverpool was worth at least £200 million yet, in terms of results, they were one of the worst Arsenal outfits ever to play Liverpool at home. In fact some say the current Arsenal squad is worth north of £300 million not counting the wasted millions to offload players Arteta dislikes.
How many more millions must Arteta (and Edu) spend before it dawns on the owners and fans that the problem is not the players? How much longer will 10th or mid-table mediocrity remain the new gold-standard for a large body of Arsenal fans, tortuously seeking to justify their campaign to hound Arsene Wenger out of the club in the belief that any manager could easly make Arsenal challenge for the title?
Will Arteta fall freely on his own sword or will he be pushed?