Last night’s shambolic Arsenal performance was a massive alarm bell for me. It was an appalling indictment of all the things Arteta and his Arsenal team have got wrong and although we went through a good run of form before the last international break, that is looking more and more like an outlier in the cold light of day this morning.
When some teams play a game and lose when they really feel they should have won like we did at United, what you hope to see as a fan is a side that comes out with purpose and determination to get things right. Yet what we Arsenal fans witnessed last night was a disgraceful showing from a collective of players who – on this showing – will not get us anywhere near something like a Top Four challenge.
Yesterday was supposed to be an opportunity for us to get back on track. It was supposed to be our chance to lay down that marker and show that whilst we can’t lay a glove on the top three big clubs, we can deliver against teams who are mid table or lower. And against an Everton side who were on its knees from a confidence perspective, this was supposed to be a performance that Arsenal stepped up and delivered that would have us looking at the two other London clubs directly above us and feel like we can compete with them. Instead what we were treated to was 90+ minutes of utter tripe.
And it was nearly all of that too, because even though we went in at halftime one up, it was against the run of play and had us relying on the VAR offside that kept us ahead. Let’s quickly speak on VAR and the refereeing last night though, because that should be a small footnote in an otherwise abysmal evening for Arsenal. Mike Dean is Mike Dean and he was shoddy all night, but the fact that VAR did not pick up on a clear stamp to the head of Tomiyasu in the first half is terrible. It’s a dangerous bit of play that was ignored by VAR and frankly this feels like it happens every couple of week’s with Arsenal. Clear error decisions that aren’t picked up, I mean. Godfrey himself probably could have had three cards as well as that red and the fact he got away with the stamp probably just emboldened him more. Mike Dean was happy to do his Mike Dean thing it seems.
But we need to park that because the other 89+ minutes of action just weren’t good enough. Partey was poor again, Saka was quiet all evening (when he wasn’t being kicked all over the place), Odegaard was ok at best and Martinelli was quiet. But Lacazette was the worst of the bunch for me. He offered literally nothing in attack and whilst many understood that Aubameyang needed to be dropped, the real problem in this team was once again laid bare last night. We simply do not have anything when it comes to the final third. We are utter tripe as soon as we get in to the final third. The build up play is practically non-existent and we seemed to be playing at walking pace at times. This Everton side give away chances and they are ropey as heck, yet Pickford barely had anything to do in the entire game. It was shameful and those Arsenal players should all be hanging their heads today.
The only time we did anything was for our goal which was very well worked, but when that is happening once in a game against a team like Everton, then you are in big trouble. And we are in big trouble.
We’re in big trouble because this is not an isolated incident. Every team can have an off day, but this is becoming too frequent and I’m afraid we have to once again start looking at some of the decision making of the manager. Once you send your side out then it is on them to perform, but you can still have an impact on the game in terms of your subs and the tactical switches you can make in-game. Arteta’s decisions yesterday were almost unanimously wrong. The decision to bring Nuno on for Tierney was wrong because he and the shocking Partey were at fault for the equaliser as we gave the ball away from our own thrown in. But his decision to bring on Eddie Nketiah for Martinelli and then play him as a left winger had all of the hallmarks of a guy who is clutching at straws and doesn’t really know what he’s doing. The fact he kept a clearly knackered Granit Xhaka on for the whole 90 minutes instead of changing him for Sambi also showed that he didn’t really have a clue about what he should do. Then there was Lacazette. He stunk the place out all day, yet was on the pitch until the 85th minute, when we all know he looks like he’s running through treacle after 60 when he starts.
And this is why I am find it increasingly difficult to ‘trust the process’ I’m afraid. We are reliant on Arteta to be able to spot the problems and rectify them. He spotted nothing last night and reacted with baffling subs that ultimately cost us even a point. I need to admit to you now that I am finding it increasingly difficult to defend or find excuses for this manager and his team. The Brentford game had a bunch of players out with COVID. City, Liverpool and Chelski losses are expected given that they beat most other teams in the league. But the United and Everton performances were wrong, wrong, wrong and after thinking we were seeing the oasis in the desert that was this team and how it was building something together, it is looking more and more like that oasis was actually just a mirage. We play Southampton and West Ham next. Both of those sides are better than West Ham and if we have anything like that kind of performance at the weekend then we’ll get nothing. Even if it is at home.
This is a sad day folks. I’m feeling quite down and depressed about Arsenal and Arteta’s reign right now. I’m confused as to exactly what ‘process’ we’re supposed to be trusting here. Because what happened last night isn’t it.
Catch you all tomorrow.