I really believed yesterday’s game was going to be the change in fortunes. I thought we’d get a reaction from the players and that we’d come away from Goodison Park from it. I had a funny feeling about the game and I tried my best to exude the positive vibes throughout the day in some sort of weird hope that it would pay off.
I completely underestimated the gravity of our situation and where we are at with some of these players. You can tell confidence is on the floor for all of them, but the performance from some of them looked like they had downed tools. Willian is the first and most obvious example. He literally jogged around all night, didn’t bother making tackles, played easy passes, looked like he was coasting. He’s picking up his fat wage and continues to get in the team. That is the hill that Mikel Arteta has decided he is going to die on. He has backed the wrong horse in that player and it is costing him, and us, football matches.
But not just Willian, I saw it from other players too. So many of those Arsenal players attempted the easy pass, slowed the game down, showed a complete lack of urgency, yet the only time we saw any kind of flourish was in injury time. It simply isn’t good enough.
Elneny and Ceballos in the middle of the park for Arsenal is a tragedy. Both were appalling last night; misplaced passes, half-hearted tackles, shocking positional decision-making, it was there for everyone to see. I’ve seen people talk about the problems of putting the kids into this team being that it will 100% get us relegated. But Mikel Arteta is now out of options. Those senior Arsenal players are getting us relegated right now. We are an appalling outfit going forward and completely devoid of any creativity. Even our goal last night was from the spot and a penalty. We create nothing and that’s because players are playing slow, they’re playing passes sideways or backwards, they are finding ways to get themselves marked so they don’t receive the ball. We have some cowards in the team.
After the defeat yesterday Arteta spoke about dominating the game. Rubbish. We dominated possession but not the football match. The football match was handed to us because Everton knew that if you maintain shape you can beat this Arsenal team. And that is exactly what happened.
How did we get here? Well, an atrocious recruitment strategy is playing the part I’m afraid. Mikel is making the wrong decisions in playing some of these players, but he’s also not being helped by the worst assembled Arsenal team in my living memory. Leno, Holding, Luiz, Kolasinac, Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Elneny, Xhaka, Ceballos, Pepe, Cedric, Willian, Nketiah, Lacazette. All of those players I would question whether they are good enough to be regulars at Arsenal. Some of them less than others, but each have flaws that cost us and have been costing us. That’s 15 names I’ve just reeled off. 15. In a squad of, what, 30 players? That’s half of the players who are not at the right level. It is a travesty and whilst I think Arteta has serious questions about his long-term future, you can’t look at those names and not wonder what a new man in charge would do.
We are in free fall and it won’t get better any time soon. Man City will beat us on Tuesday to knock us out of the cup. Chelski will beat us at home in the league. The we have relegation six pointers away to Brighton and West Brom. we have to win both or at least one of those games. We just have to scrap along now until January and then hope that KSE dip into their pockets for Mikel. If they don’t do it almost immediately – I’m talking 1st of Jan style – then we know that they are wavering on Mikel. Because if they truly believe he is the man for the job then they will give him some new additions to try to inject a bit of life into this team.
If they don’t then I think we know where this is going and it is going the way of another manager exit. But that will be cruel on Mikel because he has little options. Actually, that’s not quite true, because he has some options which are to play some of those younger players, or to give the likes of Maitland-Niles a shot in midfield, for example. He can’t be any worse than those two frauds we saw swanning around the centre of the park for Arsenal yesterday.
We all know change is coming in the summer but that feels like a long way off. I was saying to the wife last night – as well as Dave on the GunnersTown Pub we recorded straight after the game – that it would be ok if we were in 15th and clear of relegation with four or five games to go. You’d just accept it and get to the end of the season. But we’re just 14 games in. There are another 24 to go. Mikel can’t afford us to spend the next few months picking up defeat after defeat because he will lose his job and we will get relegated. We have 14 points after 14 games. That’s a trend of 38 for the season. That’s potential relegation form. Something has to give. Mikel has to change something. The only option is the personnel. If we see the same faces against Chelski – forget City because that game is worthless to us in the context of this season – then once again you have to look at the manager and wonder if he is deserving of the sack. He must change it. We must change this. We need something to happen.
Catch you all tomorrow.