In isolation this game is a bit of a ‘meh’ one that you can just put in a box and move on with your life. Man City win this competition every year, they are miles better than us, they have players who will punish teams very easily. But the problem we have at the moment is that the run we are on right now means that games can’t be taken in isolation, so when I think back on the beating we took at home to City last night, I’m also looking at the run we are on and the additional damage it has caused the team from a confidence point of view.
I then look at some of the decision making from the manager and it makes me sad. It makes me sad that he continues to make mistakes as much as the hapless players he puts his faith in, including picking some of them last night. I get that he needs to rotate and that there will be some instances in which he has no choice, but some of those Arsenal players are so atrocious that you do wonder why ‘the kids’ just haven’t been wheeled out a lot earlier than this.
Take Mustafi, for example, who was poor all night, back to his old blaming people and shouting when the fault of some of the goals lay at his door. For the fourth goal scored he and Kolasinac just stared at two Man City players inside our box to head home and frankly it was then embarrassing to see him complaining. But then again, it is embarrassing to see him and Kolasinac even in an Arsenal shirt. The Bosnian had another crap game, summed up also in the final third when Balogun was running in on goal and just needed to slip him the ball, yet he just checked and went back. He completely avoided any kind of risk and whilst you can say that this is a symptom of the complete lack of confidence we have, it is also a cause of a player who is so technically limited you wonder how he ever made top flight professional football.
But there are so many in that team last night that you can make that case against. Take the ‘keeper, for example, who looks like he won a competition to play in goal for The Arsenal. Runarrson was a bit flappy for the first goal and his tiny little arms didn’t get to the cross in the third minute, but for the second goal that City scored, well it was a joke really. Straight at him he flapped it in and frankly we should never have to play him in goal again I’m hoping. Imagine if Leno gets ‘done’ like he did last season against Maupay. Not only would we have some clowns out on the pitch, we’d have the Clown-in-Chief in goal as well. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
But the problems are deeper than the reserve ‘keeper, as well as the fact he was even chosen to be back up at Arsenal, having won some kind of footballing lottery when he signed from Dijon. The decision making to play Mustafi, Kolasinac, Elneny, Ceballos, can only be described as sensible if those players are nowhere near the first XI on Boxing Day. All were appalling and after stinking the place out in midfield on Saturday, both the Egyptian and Spaniard were given the opportunity to show something last night. I wasn’t even worried about the result, I just wanted to see the effort and application that gave me something to cling on to, but having seen those four play the majority of the match last night the only hope I’m clinging on to is that we augment the squad with new signings in a week and a bits time and they can be out of the door quicker than you can say ‘Christmas baubles’.
It is a damming indictment on the whole regime that we have players who failed under Wenger three years ago, still rocking up in an Arsenal shirt today. And that is a blot on the copybook of the whole club, not just this manager.
But Arteta has real issues I’m afraid and as I said at the start of today’s piece, some of those issues are of his own making. The decision to keep Martinelli on the pitch after halftime was reckless and that is where you need to be strong as a manager and say “son, we have bigger fish to fry, you’re coming off”. But Martinelli stayed on for about five minutes before having to come off. Take whatever lucky rabbits foot, four leaf clovers, horse shoes and dreamcatchers and smash them all together guys, because despite what Arteta said about this kid, he was mustard yesterday and one of the few bright spots. There are players there that Arteta needs to bring together and get on the pitch and they include Gabriel, Partey, Tierney, Saka, Martinelli and Aubameyang. The sooner he can get all of those back on the pitch, the better we will look. But the fact I’m looking at just six players out of a squad of 25 just serves to highlight just how terrible things have got and how appalling our recruitment has been in recent years.
So when you can’t buy in players, how about trying others? Smith-Rowe came on and set Lacazette up within five minutes. He looked likely and was a breathe of fresh air. And you can’t say the opponent was a budget Europa League side; even the rotated City squad last night had plenty of the first team squad. But what will we seen on Saturday? Yep, you guessed it, probably no ESR and instead the ghost of Willian jogging around the football pitch at his former club. He’ll probably be telling his former teammates just how much he’s enjoying his early retirement.
It’s the same with Balogun. Given but a few glimpses last night, yet he still made a couple of good runs and could have found himself in on goal had the utter waste of space known as Kolasinac not failed to spot what was a few yards in front of him.
And this lack of trust in the youngsters has all but destroyed all of the goodwill the fans have for Arteta. It is certainly wavering my beliefe in him. His persistent faith with some of those players is going to get him the sack. No matter what the Arsenal Exec Team are saying.
Next up, an inevitable defeat to Chelski on Boxing Day. I’m at the point in which I feel