“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson’s consistency is one of the world’s most often mangled quotes. It is intellectually ripped to shreds when people change it to read just “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” or something to that effect because it isn’t consistency itself which is the problem, it’s a foolish consistency. It’s doing and saying the same thing over and over again in the face of new evidence. Emerson was simply saying “be willing to change your mind, even if it contradicts everything you said last week” and if you’ve followed my writing for any period of time, then you know that I am often frustratingly Emersonian in my ability to change my mind about things when presented with new evidence.

The trick, however, and one which I often forget, is not to simply fall back to entrenched intellectual positions. It’s difficult to do because when you fall back to a previously held belief it feels like you’re changing your mind, but it’s actually just returning to that foolish consistency which Emerson warned us about. What you want to do instead, I think, is evaluate why you’re changing your mind, what the new evidence is, what the old evidence was, and look for any new or third ways that might emerge.

I also suggest that you don’t try to look at things as black and white. Multiple things can be true at the same time. Actually, scratch that, multiple things are always true at the same time.

Being inconsistent can also be a curse. So, like the old adage “moderation in all things, including moderation” I suggest being wary of foolish consistency, including consistent foolish inconsistency. In other words, don’t just change your mind on things to be contradictory or just to change your mind.

I was thinking of this all day yesterday. I was going to write about Arsenal’s loss to Southampton but what I found myself doing was falling back to my trench. The trench in question is my “angry with Arteta” trench. There are rats in that trench. And gangrene. And trench foot. And trench mouth. You really don’t want to get trench mouth.

I’ve made it clear I don’t care for Arteta – personally. I don’t like his management style – on and off the pitch and I think he’s too rigid and slow to change. I’m also someone who laughs at the corporate doublespeak he and the club roll out constantly. His big one is “the culture of the club”.

In 2020 the club put out a puff piece titled “How Arteta changed the culture around the club”. My favorite quote:

“We had to create the right culture for our club and it has to be an environment that first of all everybody has to respect each other, that we have to work together and we have to express the passion and how we lucky we are to be where we are. That’s the first one to start with.”

“Without that unity, we cannot drive this massive ship that we have to manage with Arsenal, and the expectations that are involved with the club. The moment we started to do that, I started to change a few things that, for me, were really relevant. The players got behind them, the staff got behind them and we started to see some results straight away.”

“As well, we have to identify our weaknesses and our strengths, and they have to be aware of our weaknesses. We can have weaknesses that we have to hide but we cannot have weaknesses within our structure of our club.”

They did a SWOT analysis! That was 2020, so how has the culture improved since then?

Well, in 2021 when we fired Aubameyang for staying the night in France with his mom instead of returning the same day and then we told everyone he didn’t get a COVID test – which meant that he’d broken British law or something – he mentioned the culture again.

And then in 2022, when Arsenal were in their cups, playing as the third best team in the League and playing what even I must admit was some good football, there was another puff pice about how Arteta has fixed the culture at the club: this time through themed lunch boxes, showing up to work early, and slogans on the weight room walls.

And of course, not to be left out of this cultural revolution, the management team also is investigating how they can change the corporate culture.

So we have Arteta constantly fixing the playing culture and we have management fixing the corporate culture. And look, that’s great and all but it’s also just a bunch of nonsense and a cute little way to say “the last guys sucked”. Personally, I’d rather that we just bought a striker and didn’t invest so heavily last summer on a bespoke CB. And if we hadn’t been able to buy a striker last summer and in January, maybe we could just admit that it was probably not the best idea to pay Barcelona to let him score goals for them, and say that perhaps we could have done better to get him into positions so that he could score goals for us and that maybe we could have done both “work on the culture” and also “keep our striker until the summer” because – WHO KNEW? – we might hit a patch where we need one to help us score goals?

And if the guys in suits want to work on the culture in the board room, maybe instead of hiring a consultancy firm they could, ohhh, I dunno.. let’s see.. pick up the phone, call Arsene Wenger, and have Josh Kroenke personally apologize for the way they fired him, and ask for his advice? Or hey, spend millions of Pounds Sterling to get some dicks to tell them they they need to have more Rocky Rocastle posters in the hallways.

The bottom line in all of this is that I don’t care about the “culture at the club”. It’s nice and all, and it’s good that the team likes each other and give each other cakes for their birthdays, but we aren’t scoring goals when we need them. That is at least partly down to the guys in charge (who want to change the culture in the board room) who decided to give Auba a contract instead of replacing him, and also partly down to the manager (who is always worried about the training room culture) who is far too inflexible and struggles to think outside the box when the chips are down. You didn’t have to completely fire Auba. Redemption is a hell of a powerful tool. Imagine if we used it every once in a while?

But I’m not mad at Arteta. It’s fine. It’s his team, he can run it however he wants. If he doesn’t get the results, I guess one day he will be fired. If he does get the results then I’m happy. That’s literally all I care about. And besides which I predicted 5th-6th place this season anyway, so us sitting in 5th is pretty much exactly where I expected us to be.

And to be honest, despite the disappointing results, Arteta has improved the team. I’m sure if we can get a Vlahovic/Abraham in the doors we will score more goals next year. Admittedly that will be made more difficult if we don’t have Champions League football but that’s not something I can control.

And while it is hard to watch Arsenal for long stretches and we seem to take time off in the middle of matches, it seems a lot better than it did two years ago. I mean, shit, I’m old enough to remember how we played under Unai Emery and I wouldn’t wish that on almost any supporter, except maybe a Spurs fan. So, I am big enough to admit that – again in spite of the bitter disappointment of the last month – we are playing better football now.

The next big trick is for Arsenal to get more consistent. Arteta wants us to play with bravery and I agree. It takes guts to play it out the back and move the ball through the lines against Premier League teams who want to constantly press us. I thought we were brave and played our asses off against Man City this year. That was one of our best performances of the last three years. If we can do that more often, there will be no question in my mind that we will be a top four team and maybe even – ok I won’t say it.

So, in this case consistency is a good thing. That’s what the best teams have. However, I think to get there, ironically, you need to have a little more flexibility than we have shown so far. I think it’s important for this manager to stop blaming the players so often and admit that they (him and the board) have got some things wrong and show us that they want to repair those breaks. Part of building a good culture anywhere is admitting when you’re wrong.



  1. What bugs me is the consistent of impressive runs that all of a sudden are replaced by a consistency of a run of terrible results. And this has been the case for a long time now from Wenger’s last year’s. Whether it’s bad managerial decisions, players who are unable to lift themselves up when in a rut or just something else is very annoying.

  2. i remember being an 18-year old private in the army. we had just finished a field training exercise the week prior and were going to do another all that week. on my way to the armory, i walked past the “top” office; top is a pronoun given to the highest-ranking enlisted person in a company-sized element or below (a company is typically about 120 people and the “top” for a company is the rank of first sergeant [1sg]). the problem is i hadn’t cleaned my boots from the previous field exercise. as i walked past top’s office, i hear him yell out “joshua!” under my breath, i’m saying “fuck”; no one wants to talk to top…besides, i had stuff to do.

    i go into top’s office, and render his proper courtesies. he asks if i’d cleaned my boots. i tell him no. he asks “why not? you know you were supposed to”. i replied, “because they’re going to get all dirty again in the field”. he says, “brilliant! that’s like you take a shit but don’t wipe your ass because you know, eventually, you’re going to have to take another shit”. inside, i’m lmao but he’s dead serious so i don’t actually laugh. he puts his hand on my shoulder and says softly “it’s not your fault, son. it’s your leadership’s fault. i want you, your team leader, squad leader, and platoon sergeant in my office in ten minutes.” omg! my heart sinks. i don’t have time for this and they definitely don’t.

    i let my team leader know why top wanted to see him and the others. i told him i didn’t think it was a big deal because everyone’s boots are dirty; then i look down at his boots and they’re clean…my heart sank even deeper. he shrugs and says “let’s go”. we get a stern talking to and top asks me to wait in the hallway and close the door. then he commences to chewing my bosses asses; yelling, screaming, cursing, furniture moving, the whole 9 yards repeatedly yelling “why?”. meanwhile, several guys walk by in the hallway, all with dirty boots on, hear the commotion and are like “damn, joshua, what’d you do?”

    bottom line, my bosses didn’t once blame me for my boots being dirty. they all owned it as a leadership failure on their part. top’s office door opened and my platoon sergeant and squad leader all walk past but don’t say a word to me. my team leader looks at me and gives me a head nod to follow him to my room. he closes the door, puts his hands on his hips, looks at me and says “dude”. i said to him, “i got it, sergeant”. he gives me a head nod and walks out of the room. mind you, for the next 23 years of my military career, i never went to field with dirty boots again.

    like i said, my leaders owned my failure. that’s what i grew up seeing leaders of men do. if you’re in charge, you’re responsible for what your charges do; the good, the bad, and especially the ugly. for me, that’s the standard. when a leader like arteta fails to completely own a failure in public, there are two problems. first, i have no respect for that type of person being in charge because when push comes to shove, he’ll throw you under the bus to save his own face. we’ve already seen him do that with aubameyang, ozil, guendouzi, and others. he’d cut off his nose to spite his face. second, he can’t improve as a manager if he doesn’t accept their failure as his own personal failure. even if he’s not at fault, he still has to accept it as his own failure, especially publicly, to ensure he’s always searching for solutions as a leader. what he says behind closed doors to his players is different but he’s got to own any arsenal shortcoming in public.

    1. there’s a retired navy seal commander named jocko willink. he has a ted talk called extreme ownership. it’s on youtube and less than 20 minutes. i’d encourage you all to check it out to see what real leadership is all about. while his story is about a battle where people died, leadership is still leadership. arteta could do from taking a page from this man’s book. like i said previously, this is what leadership looks like and is what i’m used to seeing from leaders.

    2. Enjoyed the share Josh.

      When I heard the story of Arteta the captain using the player fines to buy a watch for Gazidis it spoke volumes as to his character. Imagine having someone like that dictating club culture.

      1. W. T. F.
        It’s that management speak and shirking responsibility. I’ve never warmed to him. Damn, for all his faults, Arsene Wenger was a true statesman, a man with integrity.

        Not really related but where are the Yossarians of yesteryear? We get worse and worse. Biden now gleefully tells us he’ll drill more, and everyone cheers.

    1. Thanks. Along the same lines, I’d recommend a novel called Once an Eagle, by Anton Myrer. Among other things, about leadership in the military. A superb novel and well worth reading even if you’re not usually into military literature.
      But it’s a little longer than 15mins 😉

  3. As far as consistency goes, it feels to me like Arteta has implemented a more pleasing style of play than Emery or than he had early on. We don’t necessarily have the players to be very successful at it, but even in the losses, we play a little more positively.
    However, that might have been at the expense of the defense. Because we can’t turn that more positive play into goals, us playing less conservatively means any defensive issues more apparent.
    And as pointed out on the other thread, even during the good runs, we’re still not blowing people away. We’ve won some close matches, and credit to the young team for doing that. But it’s mostly still been by the odd goal, and if your luck changes a little, it’s pretty easy for a bunch of those to end up as L’s instead of W’s.

  4. “The next big trick is for Arsenal to get more consistent.”

    Arteta and Co. are way ahead of you there, Tim. 3 L’s on the bounce is nothing short of consistency. Now the question is: Can they make it 6 in row (with Chelsea, ManU, and West Ham next)?

  5. “I thought we were brave and played our asses off against Man City this year. That was one of our best performances of the last three years.”

    Wholeheartedly agree… small observation – Arteta wasn’t present on the sidelines that day. Makes you wonder if players actually enjoyed some freedom on the pitch vs constantly listening to the little dictator scream and yell at them while wildly gesticulating with his hands.

  6. Upstate Gooner

    I think that is quite likely the case.

    In the Wolves game where Gabriel made a mistake with the backpass which led to Wolves scoring, Arteta caused him to second guess himself by shouting “Gabi. Keeper” I don’t think he would have made that pass at that point of time if it weren’t for his manager telling him what to do.

    It must be suffocating playing for a guy like that, who will also publicly punish you if you don’t listen to him.

    1. as a cdm, i endeavored to be the smartest guy on the field. as a result, i did more talking than playing. when i transitioned to coaching, i maintained that high volume of verbal expression from the touchline. i believed me talking was helping players so i understand why arteta believes what he’s doing is ideal. however, it’s not.

      i can recall as a player, having an overbearing coach trying to talk to me during a tough game. i blew him off so he took me off and we had a bit of a verbal throw down on the sideline. i always remember how him yelling made me feel so i endeavored to say things nicer. i also remember him apologizing to me after halftime. he knew i had the highest respect for him.

      however, that wasn’t enough. it was only after i saw another coach, seemingly talking nonstop to his players that i realized how i probably sounded. i decided then that i shouldn’t talk much from the touch line. i changed it up immediately. you have to grant players the freedom to think and solve problems on their own. we’ll see how long this persists with arteta.

      1. My issue, or I guess assumption/fear, is that with this constant positive feedback and lack of consequences for Arteta, he is not going to learn. He didn’t have to work with any player he didn’t like. He got to waste club resources getting rid of players, including those he re-upped or prevented from leaving before. He got the highest budget in the world as a consequence of, let’s be honest, underachieving and taking us out of Europe. Our season has essentially been solely focused on the league and we’re still falling apart and he’s still blaming other factors and largely getting away with it. Why would he learn? He learns that by throwing a tantrum about his players or finding fault with some ‘culture’ he gets more time and more power to do it all his way.

        It’s his 3rd season and I don’t think anyone can honestly plan for the long term with a guy who is indecisive, and also at any moment can do a complete U-turn the way he has done multiple times.

        I’m also surprised that the general opinion here is we play better football than Emery. Leave aside the money we’ve spent on the team, in my opinion Arteta plays foolish football, and not in an exciting way. It needs everything just right. It might appear to be some tactical genius, but if it keeps failing when it meets reality then I don’t think it’s genius. Worse, I think he’s just imitating what he saw Pep do. It is not creative genius and he is not focused on end goals. Rather, he’s obsessed with establishing ‘his’ identity on the team/club.

        It might appear a minor thing, but the dressing room paint job makes us look like a cheap ManCity knockoff. Likewise just plastering logos and decals all over the training ground is not breeding a culture. At its worst it is devaluing the culture, which is what I honestly believe has happened. No one seriously buys in, because he doesn’t believe it either. He’s just transposing what he thinks is a winning identity and calling it culture.

        1. “I’m also surprised that the general opinion here is we play better football than Emery.”

          Yeap. No clue where people are getting that from. Emery’s only full season, we scored 73 and let in 51. Arteta has had one and a half seasons scoring 50 odd goals, neither with a higher goal difference than Emery’s season. We’re on pace for a third of the same.

          I’m willing to accept Emery was too conservative. Arteta’s not better. Any allusions to a better ‘style’ of football are completely subjective. Or imaginary.

        2. I find Arteta to be something of a Goldilocks manager. When every variable is just so, his team can be really exciting and look pretty good.

          The issue is that conditions are rarely perfect in any given situation, let alone on a football pitch with 22 men, 11 of whom are directly trying to make things not perfect for you. A good manager has to be able to adapt, has to make things work, has to create solutions. And Arteta just doesn’t. One of Wenger’s great skills was creative problem solving, and it allowed him to get the best out of players who might be struggling or struggled before coming to the club. Arteta can’t, or won’t, use all of the player resources he has available to him—you’re either his guy or you’re not, and if you’re not, you’d best get comfortable on the bench for the next few years.

    2. But guys, I have been told that he’s fixing the culture and that everyone is happy because they get birthday cake now!

  7. the jammed up emerson quote reminds me of the often misquoted “money is the root of all evil” where it’s actually “the love of money is the root of all evil”. i also understand the struggle of not falling back into old thought processes; old habits die hard.

    this culture thing has me unsettled as well. how can you sack 55 personnel and be the only club in the world to ask players to take a pay cut during covid, yet have the audacity to hire a bunch of surely very expensive outsiders to tell you what your culture is? arteta came in the door talking about the culture needed to change. nuts! how was he able to determine arsenal’s culture mid-game from the man city dugout? what about victory through harmony? arteta’s idea is to get rid of everyone who is not in perfect harmony with him. he just seemed to forget about the victory part.

    on a more somber note, sorry to hear about steve rowley passing. likewise, cristiano ronaldo’s baby boy passed as well. that’s got to be awful for him and his family.

  8. Thanks for the post Tim.

    I think we can all agree the front office with Raul needed a cultural upgrade.

    I think the give a damn quotient in the dressing room had really faded in the last couple of seasons of the Wenger era especially in the last one. Then the dressing room crapped out on Emery. You can blame that on those 2 managers if you want but those players quit on 2 senior well respected and relatively successful managers. On top of that many of the critical players were getting older and had played on CL level teams most of their careers and probably did not have the energy or interest in being involved in a several year rebuilding project. Obviously I can’t prove any of that but all of us are just speculating and given the circumstances and I suspect there are very few managers in the world who could have salvaged the dressing room with that group of players

    The point of all of that is I think there is plenty of evidence that a cultural housecleaning was an important first step and while they will never say it in public, I suspect clearing out the over paid underperforming and probably undermotivated players was part of the plan.

    In reality the players who were moved were all underperforming at the time. Moving Auba clearly seems like a mistake now after the last 3 games but he had been underperforming for 1 1/2 seasons at the time the move and there was no good reason to think he was going to suddenly regain his form. Taking Auba out of the starting line up looked like a good move for a while because the team clearly performed better for a few months without him and were we really going to let him sit on the bench for 3 months?

  9. BILL: “I think the give a damn quotient in the dressing room had really faded in the last couple of seasons of the Wenger era especially in the last one. Then the dressing room crapped out on Emery. You can blame that on those 2 managers if you want but those players quit on 2 senior well respected and relatively successful managers.”

    Emery missed out on 4th by a point, came 5th, and took us to the Europa League final. Arteta came 8th and 8th. Aubameyang’s goals against City and Chelsea were a big part of why Arsenal (containing many of the players now derided by you as not giving a damn) won the FA Cup in the first of Arteta’s seasons. He twisted Auba’s arm to sign a new contract, praising his dedication and example.

    So your conjecture that’s meant to be helpful to Mikel’s cause lacks substance.

  10. ‘We are playing better football now’

    Do you mean generally or when it all clicks the highs are better than under Emery and last season Wenger?

    We have seen some very good football and against decent sides (vs Leicester, Wolves and Wham come to mind). But there’s been a lot of dross too.

    This stat that under Arteta he’s only won once when going behind suggests a fragility to how this side play.

    I don’t see that Artetaball is smart enough or flexible enough to deliver consistency. The last two losses (and quite a few others) have come when the opposition overload the midfield. Yes, TP is a loss but until Arteta finds a system that prevents being overrun in midfield expects inconsistency.

  11. Last season Auba, Pepe, and Laca scored 60% of our goals. I think we had 3-4 own goals in our favor which means the rest of the squad scored only 18-19 total league goals for the entire season. This season all 3 of last years leading scorers have gone missing. The manager has to find a way to build top 4 team with a group of players who have hardly ever scored league goals in their entire careers and only scored 18-19 goals last season. That is just not realistic no matter who is our manager.

    The fact that we have done as well as we have and we are on pace to score as many goals as last season given the loss of production of last seasons top 3 scorers seems like quite an accomplishment to me.

    1. Sorry, Bill. I looks like Im stalking you, but I had to respond to the comment that “This season all 3 of last years leading scorers have gone missing.”

      He chucked out Aubameyang without bringing in a replacement.

      He would not play Pepe, essentially wasting him. No one in the history of soccer has ever scored from the bench.

      Laca… I leave it to Tim and Josh to tell us why his output fell so precipitously.

      Not one of us — not even you, who sees no wrong in anything that Arteta does — would have given our primary goalscorer away without having a Plan B. The major task of a manager is to manage… fix it Mikel. Manage the situation. It is more important to get the points than to make a point. My wife and I had a terrible fight on a long journey once, and I badly wanted to put her out of the car in the middle of nowhere. We had to fix it, so that one of us didn’t do something stupid. Egos needed to be put aside, for the good of the household. We could have a divorce after if that’s what either of us wanted.

      Auba was being mis-played, and Pepe isnt playing at all. Auba is showing that (as we say in cricket), form is temporary, but class is permanent. You talk a lot about the form of the team.

      1. “Laca… I leave it to Tim and Josh to tell us why his output fell so precipitously.”

        My answer is and has been that the role Arteta wants him to play is not conducive to him scoring goals. He is simply not getting into the right positions to score because he’s too busy doing other stuff. That shows up in the big chances data.

        My guarantee is that he returns to scoring goals when he signs for another club this summer.

        Weird how so many players leave Arsenal and get better.

        1. You mean dropping deep, almost to the halfway line, and not getting any service in the box? That kind of reason for the dropoff?

          Laca scores in the box, any coach in the world worth his/her salt can see this.
          He is not blowing by anyone, dribble driving into the box to create space, he clanks them in form inside the 18 yard area.

        2. That last point is something totally in contrast with what we were used to under Wenger.

          Players would leave us worth more than when they came in and often do worse wherever they went. I’m not sure if that totally held up in late Wenger years but I think it was still mostly true. Some players did win things but rarely playing the sort of football that made their reputation.

          We’d win the net spend ‘trophy’ at a canter and while we won nothing else, at least we weren’t hammering our finances into the bargain. That along with regular Champs League meant our finances remained healthy.

          It may be a little over the top but I genuinely worry how much of a hole another season of Arteta will make in our finances. Some of the loan/transfer deals seem nothing short of reckless and we’re not making the champs league money to offset them.

  12. Claude.

    I think Edu/Arteta were in a bind with Auba because they needed someone to score and just like with Ozil its almost like their hand was forced. Unfortunately for whatever reason just like Ozil the production from Auba went down immediately after the new contract. Arteta and Edu would have signed Auba if they had known his production would crater. They would not have sent him away if he had been producing but we had a 1 1/2 season sample size of diminishing production..

    Dropping down the table a bit is an inevitable and expected outcome when you are starting a top to bottom rebuild. No?

    1. Bill, I’ll give you your due… you are very, very consistent. In EVERY single discussion or topic you absolve the management of any responsibility. Even to the point that it’s the player’s fault they were given new contracts..

  13. That sounds like a problem of Arteta’s own making, Bill. He’s the one who decided that keeping Laca and Eddie in their final year was correct, that decided to chase marginal gains in defense instead of spending on adding to the midfield and attack, the one that froze Pepe out, the one who fell out with Auba, and the one who chose not to replace him when he sent him to score goals for Barcelona. It is quite an accomplishment indeed, just not in the way you mean.

  14. Claude

    Correct me if I am wrong but i remember not long ago you commented several times that we were playing well and moving Auba had turned out to be good for both sides

    1. Auba making a great arrival at Barca and Martinelli emerging is win/win. I stand by that. You can feel that way (happy for the players involved) and be critical of how Auba’s departure went down.

      Im happy for Auba, especially, because clearly you and other pro-Arteta fans wouldnt have hesitated to stick the boot in if he was a bust at Barcelona. I mean look at how you’ve reduced Ozil’s contributions to Arsenal solely in terms of his being part of a rot. I fear that youre one of those fans who are going to turn on Saka in 8 years if the management falls out with him. Gosh, some fans have already turned on Laca in the past few days for what he had to say about wanting to play in the Champions League.

      So yes, we can hold the position that it’s win/win and for the best, and the position that it was bad planning. It’s nuanced, and Im fine with holding both.

      Shard, correct. It’s a problem of his own making. There’s something very “King’s New Clothes” in the way some gooners try to gloss over Arteta’s mistakes

  15. Shard

    Laca has been given plenty of chances and Pepe began the year as a starting forward but did nothing for about 5 games before he lost his place. Auba was not scoring either and we clearly needed to change what we were doing the first couple months of the season.

    Its not just Arteta who makes decisions about contracts. I would suspect Edu and the front office are the real drivers of that bus.

    I agree completely the major criticism of the current regime is they have spent a lot of money and not done nearly enough to improve the quality of our attacking players. Odegaard is nice but not a superstar and certainly not a scorer.. It seemed pretty obvious to me last summer that we needed to buy some players who could improve our firepower but our front office either did not listen or could not find anyone. I don’t believe were not going to take the next step as a club until we spend a lot more on goal scorers.

  16. Btw tim, something wrong with the reply function on your site for me. I can’t see what I’m typing unless I highlight it, and then some letters just disappear with odd spacing between them. It doesn’t seem to be an issue for anyone else though, so it’s probably on my end. Any suggestions what I could do about it?

    1. Do you have ad blocker on? My site serves no ads so you can turn it off. Also try a different browser. Chrome is my preference. It could also be a night mode thing?

      1. Ok, it’s working now. thanks tim.

        (I’ve copy pasted the t hence the lower case. No disrespect meant. Keyboard going the qQ way)

  17. Tired of the blame game… want to hear about solutions. What do we do with what we have for the remaining 7 games, to get as maximal returns as possible?

    Martinelli up top? We already have a guy who can bring others into play. His name is Odegaard, and he looks like our next captain (two thumbs up on that, Mikel). Pepe? Thoughts?

    1. I think it needs to be one of ESR, Pepe or Martinelli up front. Even if Laca’s available, I wouldn’t start him. I get it that he’s been asked to play deeper. But recently he hasn’t been great at that, and he definitely isn’t scoring even when he’s in the box.
      I had some hope for Eddie after his performance at the end of the Brighton match, but he didn’t really do much against Soton. I’m not sure either he or Laca have a future at the club, so why give them minutes, unless they are really contributing.

    2. Change the tactics. Defend with five players, attack with five (or at least four). Stop being so insistent on the attackers tracking back – it’s killing their lungs and their creativity. Another reason some rotation options would have been helpful for the run-in, but apparently we’re organizing intimate soirees, not assembling a squad.

      If you want attackers to defend, implement a basic press where the four up top – not the whole team, that leaves too much space in behind – make it difficult for the opposition to play through their central midfield or their fullbacks.

      If that press gets bypassed (which it’s likely to – it’s difficult to coach an advanced press toward the end of the season) just accept that your five defending are going to have to keep their heads and win some one-on-ones. And pray that some combination of increased chance generation and better conversion get you to fourth.

  18. Matt at 4:32 am

    I have been consistently critical of our managements use of resources. Spending $150M last year and not adding any firepower is a big mistake. How well we use our resources will determine the long term outcome of the rebuild so that is a pretty big thing for them to misfire on. On a lot of the other stuff I think the manager gets blamed for things he has no control over and it was the same with Emery

    I would suggest that there are a lot of people who consistently blame everything on the manager. There seems to be a consensus that anything which goes wrong is the managers fault. He should somehow be able to fix any problem on the pitch and play a certain type of football and score plenty of goals no matter who the players he has to work with.

    1. I concur there are serious question marks as to whether spending heavily on defence was wise. There were a lot of people including Tim Stillman and Arseblog who believed the side Arteta inherited was unbalanced in favour of attacking players.

      What I see in the comments isn’t blaming the manager but more about what are reasonable expectations of him. Sure we’re all going to have different takes but if you believe the consensus of opinion here is that the manager is more responsible than perhaps you believe, then maybe the consensus might just be right.

  19. MattB

    The expectations are the real problem. There is only so much a manager can control. Every game we lose seems to happen because the manager is outsmarted. If a player is caught 2 blades of grass away from where he should have been positioned its somehow the managers fault for not training him properly. We expected Emery to build a top 4 club with a group of players that had lost their drive with Arsene and needed a top to bottom rebuild

    This year there is an expectation that Arteta should turn this squad into a top 4 team and find a way to get the team to score plenty of goals when the 3 guys who scored 60% of last seasons goals have all crapped out on him. The rest of last years squad scored 18-19 total league goals last season and we are expecting the manager to somehow find a way to make the team score consistently when we need Saka and Smith-Rowe to be our leading scorers but they had scored a grand total of 8 league goals combined between the 2 of them in their entire careers before this season. I don’t think its wrong to suggest those are unrealistic expectations for any manager.

    1. By that reckoning Bill we are forever damned to mid table mediocrity. May as well close the blog and comments now as there’s nothing new to say 😉

  20. Claude

    Martinelli has 5 league goals this year and Pepe has 1. Hopping they are the answer seems unreasonable.

    The best hope is an unprecedented run of clean sheets.

    The long term answer is to buy some better players next summer.

    1. lol.

      My question was, Bill, “what do we do with what we have for the remaining 7 games, to get as maximal returns as possible?”

      keywords: “with what we have”
      translation: now, not next season
      further translation: THIS existing squad

      Your comment about next season doesn’t make sense in the context of the question. we have 7 matches to play this season. I may have a busted 30 year old Ford pickup, but if I can’t buy a new car immediately, I still need it to get to work this week. Walking and staying home are not options. I have to use the Ford.

      So, I’m going to ask you the question… what should Arsenal do for the remaining 7 games to get as maximal returns as possible?

      What would you change?

  21. Claude.

    The key for better results in the final 7 games with the current squad is clean sheets. I mentioned that at 3:13am


    The key to avoiding long term mid table finishes is to buy better attacking players this summer.

    1. Bill, how would you deploy Arsenal’s current resources for the 7 game run in? Hoping for a clean sheet is not a strategy.

      Since you bang on so much about scoring, I want to hear how you’d manage what we have.

    2. “The key for better results in the final 7 games with the current squad is clean sheets”

      Welp, not quite.

  22. When Arsene needed to improve his attack he bought Gervinho podolski cazorla Giroud ozil Sanchez welbeck Sanogo Lacazette Auba etc etc. Buying better players is the time proven way to fix a problem and make the team better.

  23. Claude. The problem is not strategic and I don’t believe there is a tactical skeleton key to unlock some hidden potential. I assume Arsene tried for years to figure out how to prevent or fix the team when it hit a run of bad form and his squads had a lot more firepower then the current group. If Arsene and his staff couldn’t do it in 12-13 years then it’s unlikely you or I will or any of our colleagues on this blog will find a solution

    1. Solutions ARE strategic, Bill. I’m inviting your breezy, vague generalities to meet reality. So here you are, going back to your island of safety talking about what Arsene could or couldn’t do in 20 years. We have 21 points up for grabs, sir. What Arsene couldn’t do with Aliadiere isn’t relevant at this moment. What Arteta does with Laca, Eddie, ESR, Pepe, Ode and Martinelli is. Not this summer. In April and May.

      Do you think that Patrick Vieira — before taking points off Manchester City and having a squad significantly inferior to ours and costing in total less than City paid for Jack Grealish — threw his hands up and bemoaned the fact that his number 9 had only 2 goals at the time? No, he got to work tactically, using the tools he had. That is what Arteta is supposed to do these 7 remaining matches… get to work tactically using the tools he has, the tools he CHOSE to have, and not make excuses. He’s got you for that.

      We’re not football managers, so it’s kind of academic. But I’d hoped that you had more to offer to this discussion.

  24. White at RB, it looks like. Holding in (see, Bill. tactical switch up 😉🙂… let’s see if it works)

    Suspending disagreements with all other Gooners to yell for the team

    COYG!! Let’s upset the recent results table, and put one over the oligarchs.

    1. I thought of your comment the second I saw the line up Claude. In fairness to him, Arteta had the solutions today, and we thoroughly deserved that win.

  25. Looks like AFC came out on some heavy tea, where has this type of energy been for weeks?

    Very good goal by Eddie, and ESR what does one say, he just has it.

    Now, onto that upgraded defense, one fortunate deflection, but the other was just a step slow near post for a well taken goal.

    So, here we stand, get another goal or more than one point will be lost.

  26. Got the goal, and a lucky penalty, but hey, who cares, chavs are scum.

    Can Arteta build on this, since expectations now are 4th is there for the taking.

    Still conceding like crazy, but Eddie finally got a chance to play and took his chances well.

    Mikel just needs to get out of this teams way for the remaining games.

  27. Apparently we’re consistently inconsistent, but occasionally in a good way.
    Definitely good to see the effort.

    This team is definitely better when they have some space to attack into. Not sure this says anything about how we’ll do when we go behind, but I’ll take it.

    And a good time to be facing Utd, who have at least as much turmoil as us.

  28. Embrace chaos! that first half was all kinds of mad. I think we were quite lucky but really happy for Eddie and well done to him for taking the chances that came his way. We were a little unlucky with goals we conceded too. Overall though, I reckon being chaotic and trusting the players’ natural ability was for the best. Including for how it built momentum. Speaking of which, Saka was really on it today.

    In the second half I thought our positioning was good. We didn’t give Chelsea a lot of room to work with, and they were a bit off the pace as well. When we did fall back too deep, Arteta’s switch to 3 CBs helped us out. I wasn’t sure that was the right call, but it blunted Chelsea completely. So well done to Arteta for that.

    Still all in our hands as to where we end up. I hope we keep chaos alive. Not only is it more entertaining, even if in a peek through your fingers manner, it is, I believe, also our best option to get results right now. I don’t think we’ll be dominating games, but we need to ride the talent we have and allow them to drive us towards the CL.

  29. Well that was a surprise. Not expecting 4 goals for the good guys. That was a great response to the run of 3 losses. If I remember correctly last season we were somewhere around 15th place in December and then we had an unexpected win against Chelsea and it sparked a good run of form. If we can find good form the last 6 games there is a real change we could finish in 4th.

    Even if we don’t finish in 4th place I think Arteta deserves massive credit for taking this squad as far as he has this season. The key to long term success will be how well Edu and the clubs braintrust are able to identify and acquire some more attacking talent in the next couple transfer windows.

    1. Arteta deserves credit for making the club spend a good quantity of money in the summer. Jury is still out whether it was spent on the right things – e.g.: 50m on a CB rather than desperately needed central midfielders, even though White is a decent CB.

      After that, I credit Arteta very little, it’s all to the players. Including maligned, supposedly not-Arsenal-standard players (Nketiah, Elneny, Cedric) and players who are inexplicably under- or misused (Martinelli, ESR, Pepe). By the way, Lacazette has 11 goals+assists in a crap season when he was required to drop into a ‘deep block’ – I hope we bring in new strikers in the summer, I also hope the manager watches a TV show or something on coaching attack.

      Like I said earlier, I’m not going to kvetch about the difference between 4th and 6th in judging the manager’s inherent qualities (although there is obviously a difference). My big problem with not getting 4th is that KSE will pull its old tricks to avoid spending money. They might pull those tricks even if we get 4th, but some of the disingenuous arguments are less usable (“difficult to have a CL wage bill without being in the CL” etc.).

  30. My favourite Arsenal goal was the second, Emile arriving late to finish first time like prime Aaron Ramsey. Perfect weight of pass from Ode. Eddie’s first channeled Aubameyang… hanging off the shoulder of the last man, and beating him with pure pace. So much for hold up play, hey?

    Bill, unlike you I’m not going to credit Arteta only when Arsenal does well (as at 3.35am) and blame the players when Arsenal doesn’t. Or to say, as you did yesterday, that there’s nothing a coach can do to improve this collection of players tactically. He played a back 3 (bringing in Holding) with Saka dropping back to RWB, he dropped Martinelli and Sambi, brought Elneny into CM, and played Eddie on the inside left channel and leading the line. He brought back ESR to start. The role of bringing others into play fell to Odegaard. Im going to give Arteta his full due — full praise — for the tactical tweaks. Do you still want to argue that tactics dont matter? Do you still want to stand by your clean sheet strategy?

    Arteta is responsible for our results, period. Chelsea has played more than 10 matches than Arsenal have this season, mainly because of Europe. That is an advantage for Arsenal, and Im not ready to start giving Mikel medals for having us contending for 4th. That was the minimum I expected of him, and Ive been consistent in saying so since the jump. Remember too that the squad he has now is the one he CHOSE to have, so talking about his poverty get a “boo hoo hoo” from me.

    We are the Arsenal, and we compete for Europe. We are not the development project for an individual manager. Well done, Mikel. More please. We gave you the tools. Hopefully one of the tools you elected to keep, Nketiah, vindicates your decision in these remaining games. Im pleased for him, particularly as he was let go by Chelsea as a teenager.

  31. Shard, I agree with your chaos theory. We were less predictable… no hold-up fulcrum with runners. Interesting to see Tim’s analysis. I suspect that Chelsea set up for this.

    Laca leading the line stopped working, due to opposition teams working us out with that tactic. They had targeted Laca in the main, stifling the attack orchestrator. It called for something different, and it’s to Arteta’s credit that he blew things up. If we play like that for the next 3 or 4 games, the opposition will adjust, and we may have to do so again. Tactics matter.

    Oh, we must mention Xhaka bringing the ball out from the back like prime Beckenbauer for the 2nd, beautifully counter-attacking goal. Had to rub my eyes. Thought initially that it was Ben White. That was superb play from Granit.

    On the not so bright side, Ramsdale is playing like he needs a spell on the bench. He’s been brilliant for us, but has looked jaded of late. This isnt about reacting late to the deflected goal. He was unsighted, I think by White.

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