This is just how Arsenal are right now

This season has left a lot of Arsenal supporters wondering what happened. The fanbase seems fairly divided over whether Arsenal had a somewhat good season or a somewhat bad season. Well, as I have written about numerous times and and many different ways, it’s a bit of both. Just the other day I literally wrote an article where I said X stat was nice (for example, we took a lot of shots) but Y stat wasn’t (for example our defense got worse despite considerable investment) and this doesn’t seem to be sitting well with some people. But I’m sorry, I just write what I see! And what I see is turbulence at Arsenal over the last two and a half years.

I think for a lot of Arsenal supporters they are used to the Wenger years where things weren’t always great but we were incredibly consistent. The consistency seemed to revolve around an attacking philosophy which was often defensively a bit soft. You knew how Wenger was going to set up. How he was going to approach almost every match. For his 1000th match in charge, Arsenal faced Chelsea and I remember just begging him on this blog not to play right into Jose Mourinho’s hands and play his usual high line. Please! Play deep, hit THEM on the counter. But he played his usual game and Arsenal were embarrassed.

As Wenger’s tenure slowly ground to a halt, the defense got worse, we became incredibly error prone (leading the League in errors for goals, for example), but Wenger was still wedded to his attacking philosophy so we at least still had that. And it was in that way at least predictable.

Unai Emery’s tenure was weird right from the start and he did a lot of things that Wenger would have never done. He brought in a DM and played a double-pivot. We learned how to play out from the back and at first things seemed to be going well. But the underlying data wasn’t great and soon, teams figured out Unai’s overlapping fullbacks-dragback scheme and by the end of his tenure, he too had become predictable with his substitutions, game-plan, and almost craven approach to matches. So, we had to let him go.

And along came Arteta and frankly it’s been a wild ride ever since. First he played Ozil, then he fired Ozil. His system was incredible defensive for the first 6 months – and also we were TERRIBLE at defense. Then we tried his version of playing it out the back. We tried to make Willian into our creator. We had the David Luiz experiment. We tried a double pivot. We had Auba on the left. We had Auba in the middle. We even tried “pay Auba to score 11 goals for Barcelona”. None of it worked.

That said, at various times under Arteta Arsenal have hit on something for a few months which gives the fans hope. Only for that hope to be dashed on the rocks. In two and a half years under Mikel Arteta the only consistency has been that we makes mistakes, then we try to fix them. 2021/22 was no different in that regard.

2021/22 started out with Arsenal paying two ageing forwards, needing to replace them, needing an upgrade in midfield, and instead of any of that, they brought in a new center back and new starting keeper, and tried to buy some quality backups in several positions. It should also be noted that Arsenal did do very well to buy a number 10 in Martin Ødegaard. But at the time, I thought that the center back money should have been spent on a forward and that it was weird thinking on the part of fans arguing that Ben White would be a really good addition “because his progressive passing would help the attack.” My very basic logic was “if you want to improve the attack, you buy attackers”.

I’m not stupid. I get that we had two forwards who were under contract and probably past their sell by date and on massive salaries, so kind of hard to shift. So, I think I get why we didn’t buy a forward. Maybe? A bit? And I can say now that I guess I sort of get it. Maybe it wasn’t the collasally bad mistake I thought it was at the time. Ben White is fine. I like Ramsdale’s personality. And I give the club huge credit for buying Ødegaard. He’s a gem. I also give the club credit for at least trying to address the depth problem at Arsenal with Tomiyasu, Sambi, and Tavares. I will go as far as to say that IF (big) Arsenal buy a world class striker this summer, and IF Tavares and Sambi can get better, then I think that last season’s purchases will be considerably better than they seemed this season.

And how bad were they? Well, all year I’ve been talking about Arsenal’s problem being depth. It seemed plain to me watching the games but now that the season is over I think I have statistical evidence that the depth at Arsenal was the main problem.

To set this up, I need to first show you what Arsenal’s stats have looked like since Wenger’s final good year (2015/16) to now. I think that big chances for and against are a pretty good measure of how well a team is playing. The best teams create a ton of big chances for themselves and concede few big chances in return.

Wenger’s 2015/16 team probably should have won the League. Injury to Santi Cazorla (which we would later find out was actually a life-threatening infection) destroyed that team because his partnership with the ludicrously maligned (I won’t have any Coquelin slander on this blog) Coquelin was actually the perfect midfield duo for a Wenger team. Cazorla was the rock in Wenger’s stream, dictating which way the game flowed. Coquelin was the policeman, the handiman, Wenger’s water carrier. Doing everything in his power to protect Arsenal’s back line. This midfield freed up Ozil to have his best ever Arsenal season, one in which he alone created 28 big chances for his teammates. Ironically, it was actually his finishing, along with Walcott and Ramsey*, which would kill Wenger’s final title hopes.

After that season, Wenger’s defensive plans seemed to fall apart. He abandoned the DM role for Coquelin and purchased Granit Xhaka to play, I dunno, some sort of dopey version of Pirlo? Arsenal finished 5th the season after losing the title to Leicester and no Arsenal manager has finished top four with Xhaka in midfield since.**

Wenger’s final season (2017/18) saw Arsenal put on at least something of an attacking display (95 big chances) but one of the worst ever Wenger defenses, conceding 51 goals (and 69 big chances). Arsenal finished 6th.

Unai Emery came in and the defense got worse. He was fired half-way through the next season (I called for him to be fired after Baku) and Arteta was installed. Arteta’s first thing he did was strip down the Arsenal attack, take the ball away from Xhaka, and tried to shore up Arsenal’s defense. It sort of worked? The goals allowed were down, but the expected goals were not. And the big chances allowed were absolutely nuts. In 2019/20 Emery’s Arsenal allowed 28 big chances in 18 matches (1.6 per) and Arteta’s Arsenal allowed 44 in 20 (2.2 per game). We didn’t concede as many goals as our xG suggested that we should, overperforming by almost 10 goals. We finished 8th.

Arteta’s next season, and his first full season in charge, with a full summer transfer window, wasn’t great. Again we finished 8th and as you can see above, the defense got slightly better (3rd in goals allowed, 5th in xG and again we overperformed) and the attack seemed to get better as well, but again, not great. This was all buoyed by a second half of the season in which we looked better (especially if you discounted the three hard games).

And then this season. A season of almost two halves, or a season of many what I would call “two different Arsenals”. The first Arsenal is the Arsenal with the full complement of players. I’m talking a back line with Tierney, Gabriel, White, and Tomiyasu and a midfield with Thomas Partey. The second Arsenal is when two or more of those players were out.

This 2nd Arsenal is actually how the season started out. And Arsenal lost their first three matches. BADLY. That second Arsenal is also how the season finished. After the Nationalism break – which only serves to line the pockets of FIFA and their criminal gang – Arsenal lost Tierney and Partey to long-term injury. Arteta was forced to scramble and make lineup changes that in many ways made sense but only because they were sort of desperate. And the stats there are mind-boggling.

To give this some sense: if Arsenal had played all season with the first choice 11, we would have created something like 73 big chances. Not great, but not terrible. But the defense would have been VERY good and conceded just 49 big chances. That’s somewhere around 20-25 goals from big chances and overall something like maybe 30-35 goals. This season Liverpool conceded 26 goals, Man City 26, Chelsea 33, Tottenham 40, and Arsenal conceded 48.

Arsenal’s 48 goals are almost all from the 13 matches (3 at the start, 10 at the end, 26 goals conceded, 2 per game, on pace to concede 72 goals, in the other 25 matches we conceded 22 goals, 0.88 per game, on pace to concede 33) where we were missing our starting 11. In those matches, our big chances against went up to almost 3 per game. That’s 102 big chances conceded over a 38 game season. And the big chances for drop to just 61.

So, what does all of this mean? Well, I think it depends on where your mind is right now. If you’re inclined to be angry with Arteta, then you look at his backup team and say “see, he didn’t do enough to make Arsenal better, his systems aren’t good enough and he needs goldilocks players to make his system work”. If you’re inclined to give Arteta a break you’re probably saying “see, he needs better players”.

Go ahead and get your pitchforks out but I actually think both are right.

Arsenal absolutely need better players and we need the ones we have to get significantly better really quickly. Arsenal need a forward. It’s glaringly obvious. Even a forward as profligate (he will miss a ton of chances) like Gabriel Jesus would immediately make Arsenal a lot more of a threat up top, which would immediately relieve some of the pressure on the defense. A real left-sided MFer who can actually start the Arsenal attack and can press and tackle (would also help if he’s 7′ tall, quick as a whippet, and a tactical genius) is also a huge target this summer. I’m on the fence about whether we need to buy replacements for LB and RB but I think if a really good one comes up, we need to take it because our first choice FBs are both injury prone.

However, I also see the point that people make about Arteta failing to maximize his assets. He had a huge hand in picking his players this summer. We payed Auba to go away so that we could have salary free this summer (this is the new line) and that’s on him. There really shouldn’t be such a huge disparity between his starting 11 and backups. And injuries shouldn’t completely eviscerate the team structure. At least not at the level which we are seeing here.

But I’m probably not alone in being hopeful. Another year of experience for Tavares and Sambi are crucial. We really have to get a forward this summer, just re-signing Eddie on 100k a week isn’t enough, and I can’t see this team not doing that business. It would be suicidal. We also really need to get out from under Xhaka (finally). So, I’m hopeful that those things will happen and if they do, then I will look forward to next season. I can’t fathom this club not doing those pieces of business. It would be crazy. It would be “only buying Petr Cech in summer of 2015” crazy.

So, when I’m asked how I can seem to be down on the team in some articles and up on the team in others. My answer is this is just how Arsenal are right now.


*Most folks blame Giroud but Ozil, Walcott, and Ramsey were incredibly profligate that season. Arsenal were 12.5 goals UNDER their expected goals for the season and Walcott and Ramsey accounted for 7 of those goals with Ozil adding another 2 goals missed. And Ozil’s goals were in key moments of key losses/draws as well. Giroud actually overperformed xG by almost 2 goals.

**I’m obviously showing my preferences here but I think a real DM – like what both Liverpool and Man City have in Fabinho and Fernandinho and like Arsenal used to have in Gilberto – is critical to Arsenal’s success. But in the meantime I’ll take Partey and a really good number 8.


  1. Squad depth/quality was the issue, as your (great) stats indicate.
    I’m in the ‘he needs better players’ camp
    a) because I like a June and July filled with wishful thinking
    b) because he does need better players
    As to the idea of a Xhaka-less midfield…notwithstanding a solid end to the season, definitely time to say ‘adieu’.

  2. The breakdown between with the starting 11 vs. games where we were missing Partey/Tierney/Tomiyasu/Ramsdale is amazing. I’m sure just a few more games with our preferred starting 11 would have meant not only 4th but maybe even finishing 3rd.

    I don’t trust Partey or Tierney to stay (mostly) injury free for a season, they have the Ramsey annual injury vibe for me, but I do think Tomiyasu and Ramsdale are more durable players. It’s not surprising how much worse we were then, defensively – Tavares gives the ball away a lot and falls asleep covering attackers, and Cedric is a poor 1v1 defender and has brain farts also. And Partey is just a beautiful deep-lying midfielder – strong and able to turn with the ball and progress it with minimum turn-overs, Sambi is just not as robust physically and Elneny has limited passing range.

    I’d like it if we found a way to move Cedric on and find a solid understudy to Tomiyasu on the right. But that’s third on the priority list.

    The fact that our two major links thus far are Gabriel Jesus and Youri Tielemans would say to me where there’s smoke there’s fire and so the brass must see the same thing you’re seeing and know we need a focal point up top and a midfielder that can play any of the three spots. My big worry though is what is our Plan B if those two don’t materialize? Fingers crossed that we can get our stuff done in June so that July and August is just cherry picking some young players here and there for the future.

    1. Really really don’t want to start the season still haggling for new players.

  3. Thank you for making sense out of a truly bizarre season. The beginning and end were disastrous, no doubt. But I go glass half full and focus on the middle part. Best metrics we’ve seen for a long time and pleasing to the eye.

    This brings me back to the question many posed when we first hired Arteta: can he play Man City football with an Arsenal budget? When he has a healthy XI, Arteta can get the team to score and defend. With a smaller budget, your depth suffers. Will he get the budget to secure the deeper squad we need?

    In fairness, losing both your starting FB’s, your star DM, and having two hobbled CB’s down the stretch, would likely make any team more porous. So strange that we somehow beat Chelsea West Ham and ManU during that period.

    My only quibble is that I have come around to Ben White. I don’t disagree with the signing. I think Arteta thought Auba, Laca and Eddie would get us through. Not unreasonable. He wasn’t planning to send Auba packing. Had we gotten another stiker but started the season with Holding in that spot I don’t think we we defend nearly as well all season long. Nor do we progress the ball as well. And talk about lack of depth. Without White what would’ve happened if Gabriel or Holding got injured?

    Anyway – thanks again for another brilliant season of insight.Here’s to the incomings!

    1. Chelsea were an emotional mess, Man U are having a nightmare this season, and West Ham, well, they play a pretty simple type of football and it really relies on one player having a good game. Which they didn’t get.

    2. LAGunner
      Last year Arsenal had the highest net spend in Europe, even ahead of notorious Real Madrid. So guess Arteta was backed beyond any manager’s wildest imagination .
      It is another matter he pissed it off in taking a piss at Saliba instead of a striker

  4. To your ** and also what Chelsea (had) in Kante, Makelele or Utd in Keane…. 100% agreed that all different level teams have one; and that we need one.

    Otherwise I’m really grateful you wrote this article following the comments section from previous one. Expanding out on that extremely interesting thread. Also for helping me come to terms with and explain my own literal bipolarity over Arsenal/Arteta this season. Similarly I have worn through love and hate and both at the same time, and your stats and explanations give reason to my madness

  5. To be honest, I am kinda sick of the whole “the manager needs better players” argument that has been used for Emery (kind of justified to a point) and Arteta. The whole division between the two sides is basically stupid because it ignores reality.

    First of all, nobody expects the manager to pull off a miracle with average players, and nobody expects the manager to acquire an entire squad of “HIS” preferred players.

    The reality is that the back up players are not ridiculously terrible and can/should be able to put forward a better fight than a midtable side, but we somehow falter and seem as weak as a relegation candidate when they played.

    Its infuriating to see Coquelin do well when his departure was defended with him not being good enough. Guendouzi was the same and he has been really good while we are missing a central midfield presence outside of Partey. Torreira has been playing the very role that people are crying out for a signing in, the right sided midfielder who defends and can get into the box as well. Ceballos who was supposedly not good enough for our squad depth is good enough for the champuions of Europe’s squad depth. Auba who couldnt score goals and was rightfully disposed of has been a revelation at f*cking Barcelona. We have to rely on Holding when Saliba is now a starter for France, while players who have always been regarded as lesser talents to him in Konate (Just started a UCL final and Fofana (crucial to Leicester city already) are thriving in the EPL, so please no bullsh*t about him needing development elsewhere, he is already the best centerback on our books. Mavropanos, I won’t say anything because he is somehow “not good enough” but was easily one of the best defenders in the Bundesliga last season.

    The reality is also that this team is entirely Mikel’s team. The purchases of Cedric, Tavares and Sambi, as well as the retention of Xhaka, Elneny and Holding are and should be put down as being according to his plan for Arsenal, style and quality wise. The sales of Auba, Ozil, Mkhi, Kolasinac and Guendouzi, as well as the loans of Saliba and Torreira are on the manager.

    There is no point or reason to complain about the quality of player as a problem for Mikel when it is a problem of his doing. The same applied to emery who did the same, picked his players and put them out there to play his way. To be fair, I would even say that Emery asking the club to sign Fabinho and them instead signing Torreira could qualify him as having been denied “HIS” preferred players, but Mikel can have no such complains.

    The questions are simple…

    Does Mikel have the ability to assess what the club needs, the roles that needs to be filled, the quality needed, and the type of player that can fulfil all of that?

    Is this the person we should be trusting with hundreds of millions to build a squad for a club that isn’t rich and needs to make smart moves?

    Mikel has been backed when it has come to sales, signings and renewals. If our problem is that we need better players, its because he has failed to build the squad right. His tactical and man-management failures are plain to see and arguing them with his Arsenal record is ridiculous.

  6. Interesting analysis of that 2015/16 season – generally felt that a ‘world class striker’ (instead of Giroud) would have taken us over the line. Turns out the stats complicate that view (unless there’s a role-adjusted version of xG that ‘expects’ strikers to put away chances at a higher rate than midfielders, and Giroud under-performs on that front).

    My memory of those games does sync with the stats on Ozil and Walcott – both under-performers on goal-scoring despite being challenged by Wenger to do better. One would assume the perfect complementary move would be actual goalscorers in Auba and Laca – still at a loss for how badly that went.

    “It would be crazy.” – famous pre-summer words :). Given the offers they turned down for Xhaka and the January just past, this club is still very much in the business of crazy. In fairness, they did some proper incoming business last summer. Can we hope for two decent summers in a row?

    1. How much was on the table for Xhaka? If it was under 25m, we were right to turn it down IMO.

      1. No way. Anything over 15m is an immediate sale in my book. He’s already amortized out his transfer fee so any sale is pure profit.

        1. I’d pay him to leave at this point – addition by subtraction imo. 6 months ago I would’ve thought that’s too harsh, now I know it by its proper name – clearing the decks and re-setting the culture.

  7. Great post Tim.

    Rather dramatic difference between when all of our starters are available and when they are not. Unfortunately we can’t afford to have a squad which has 2 $60M players for each position the way Pep does. Injuries are inevitable for every team and if your team falls apart when you lose a couple of players its going to be very difficult to reach your goals. Ultimately I agree with anyone who thinks we need more and better players. If we buy a couple forwards for the first 11 we could move some of the players who were first 11 this year into back up roles and that would give us more depth. We really lack star power in this squad. We tried to find that star power by spending $125M on Pepe and Laca but we obviously picked the wrong players. We need to keep spending but we can’t afford to keep missing.

    The other thing I would caution about is correlation does not always equal causation. Over the years we have seen that runs of good and bad form can happen at almost any time regardless of which players are on the pitch. Missing Partey and Tierney did not cause us to completely lose our nerve in game 37 against Newcastle.

  8. Tim. After I read the post I googled Oliver Giroud game logs for 2015/16. He scored 16 total league goals that season. He scored 12 goals in the first 21 matches we were in first place in January by goal differential. Giroud did not score a single goal in the next 15 games and during that time we fell apart and Leicester outscored us by 10 points and won the league. Giroud padded his season stats by scoring 4 meaningless goals in the last 2 games.

    To me that is the danger of using advanced metrics and ignoring actual goals scored. Based on that data I would argue that Giroud’s first 12 goals were a big part of why we were in first place and his 15 game scoreless streak was a huge contributor to our second half of the season collapse. I think we are being misled by any stats which diminish the negative impact of Giroud’s dry spell on our final table position that season.

    1. For the first time since knowing you Bill, I actually agree with you on something.

      I get Tim’s point on the profligacy of Ozil, Ramsey and Walcott. I can give you Walcott, but I would have to disagree that our inability to see out the title was more down to Ozil and Ramsey, than Giroud.

      I love Olivier, but his dry spell, along with Walcott brought some serious problems to our title charge.

      I like judging a player on what he likes to do, what he can do and what he is put onto the pitch to do. It is hard for me to look back at the 15/16 season and think Ozil was even close to being a reason for us to not sustain a challenge when he had probably the best creative season of an Arsenal player I have seen since I started watching Arsenal. He had a record breaking season for most stats related to what he does best and almost broke the assist record (I don’t really rate this record more than the one of key passes).

      Most people remember Francis’ perfomances and the role he played, but he didn’t do it all alone. Ramsey’s role alongside Coquelin really gave us a lot of stability, energy, running power and allowed Santi to thrive kinda like how Pirlo did with Vidal and Marchisio/Pogba did alongside him in midfield. He gave us balance defensively and was an extra body in attack.

      Ozil and Ramsey’s performances and their excellence in their roles for us are the reason we can even speak about being in contention, so to look into their goals sounds like we expected them to not only be exceptional in what they do, but also rely on them for a job that should be the primary responsibility of others. If we had to rely on Ozil to score goals, which he really tried, it shows how much firepower we were lacking. I do understand a bit on Ramsey as he tried to define himself a bit by his end product, but he too was forced to do too much in an attacking sense than he should have.

      Watching Arsenal at the time, the static play that showed up during that second half of the season, the defensive mistakes (Rashford at Old Trafford where Ozil had his best Arsenal game EVER!!!), the anonymous displays and sheer lack of intensity in crucial games let us down.

      A lot can be said about our defenders and their job, our midfielders and their job, but our firepower was really dried out and not just by a lack of finishing, but players just disappearing and failing to offer themselves as options in the final third. To the point where we had to start looking at Ozil and Ramsey to be ruthless for us to see out the season.

      like they say in Nigeria, “If you are complaining about Messi losing headers, then your team is too short”. if someone like Ozil was to blame for our lack of firepower, then we had deeper problems in our attack and didn’t deserve to compete. Maybe that is why we competed, because that was the season where every other top side was sh*t.

      1. Devlin, you are absolutely right. And we need to remember, Ramsey was played out on the right!

      2. Devlin – love the Messi quote and completely agree with the sentiment about Ozil.

        I too have a first time nod to Bill today! Have to agree with him about the guys we sent out. Torreira got destroyed by PL midfielders. Couldn’t stand up to the strength and speed. I was a Guen fan, but both he and Danny duck feet did not have the speed to play in the PL. They were both defensively suspect. None of them makes much, if any improvement over Xhaka and Elneny for us, and they don’t hold a candle to Partey.

        I’m more hopeful for Saliba, but success in France doesn’t mean success here. There’s a 72 million pound backup we’d like to offload who’s proof of that.

        I agree on the larger point that it’s 100% Mikel’s team at this point. This season nothing less than Top 4 will work.

    2. Wenger put him on the bench. Please go look at the minutes played between 28 Feb and 17 April 2016. He played 1 full 90. Can’t score from the bench.

  9. If we buy a couple of goal scoring forwards this summer that would mean Eddie, ESR and Martinelli would give us some viable squad options who could start in the Europa League group stage games and have a better chance to withstand injuries.

    Buy someone to replace Xhaka and he, Elneny and hopefully Sambi could play in the Europa league games and be decent backups. Bring back Saliba and if turns out to be as good as advertised it really helps our depth at CB. Not sure we can afford to do all of that and also replace both of our backup full backs.

  10. Devlin.

    A stat which says Giroud was not one of the players who missed chances in 2015/16 makes no sense to me. If he did not score in those 15 games and he did not miss a bunch of chances the only possible explanation was he was never got himself into a position to attempt a shot. If he was not getting into position to attempt to score then what the heck was he doing during those 15 games?

    With regard to your other comment. We had back up players but they just did not always play as well as we needed. Torriera, Guendouzi, Mavropanos, Ceballos all had chances to play in the PL and Auba was on a1 1/2 year downward spiral in his production. We can’t prove it either way but suggesting those players would have been better then the back ups we is unprovable speculation and quite a stretch.

    1. So you aren’t noticing the trend there? Why are they not playing well for us?

      Do you think it is a conscious decision on their part to play badly for us and well elsewhere?

      We have been complaining about back up players for almost 10 years now Bill, don’t you think the problem might lie elsewhere?

      At the end of the day, if you are going to invest in someone (even a back up), there has to be a plan to maximize what they bring to the table. If we are unable to do that for those back up players and they thrive elsewhere, then we will forever complain about back up players not being good enough.

      The proof is in their performances elsewhere. I give props on decisions like Iwobi, selling him for a high fee and seeing how he has turned out. He is showing that we wouldn’t have been able to get more out of him and it was the right decision to sell. But it also means when Guendouzi performs how he has been while we struggle for a midfield presence, I am going to call it out.

      1. Devlin
        Have a point. The backups are kept on the bench wrapped up in their original packing. Instead if they were given run-ins towards the end when position is secure , they would have been battle ready.For example Eddie got to be the player we re-signed because Mikel had no other option when Laca got COVID . So he got confident. Not complete games , but play time in actual game situation helps to develop confidence.

  11. Devlin

    I agree that in the last 6-7 years our various front office people and the last 3 managers have spent money but not done a great job of acquiring the right players we need to rebuild a top 4 level squad.

    1. Do you trust Mikel to do that building considering that the back ups being complained about are his?

  12. Devlin

    No matter how good we think Coquelin was in 15/16 he only started 15 games in the last 2 seasons at Villarreal and only played a combined 1500 minutes in the 2 seasons. It seems unlikely that he would have been a difference maker for us this season.

    1. And that right there is the problem Bill.

      The mentality thata back up should somehow be as good as the starter, especially for a team that failed to qualify for the Conference League last season. Coquelin has played as a back up at both Valencia and Villarreal to great effect, and has even won a European trophy at a side that is honestly not on our level financially but beat us. Problem with those stats on games played, is the same as the Ozil and Ramsey stats. If you watch him play, you will know what he would have brought, and that is where the difference comes in.

      1. Your back up players firstly need to fit what you want to do on the pitch.
      2. They need to be bought/retained for their level of performance.
      3. They need to help the level of the team dont drop too vastly when played.

      Coquelin has done all of that exceptionally since leaving Arsenal, while we are looking for big name players to sit on our bench. It’s arrogant to think he is not good enough for our bench. We literally won the FA Cup with Dan I Ceballos playing alongside Xhaka, beating the likes of Chelsea and Man City. Now we are too good for him? When we cantbeven compete with Brighton, Palace, Newcatsle and etc? Look at his performances against those sides.

      The same applies to all the players I mentioned.

      I can understand if you alluded to the players not fitting, but those brought in to replace them don’t fit either. Holding isn’t the same type of player as White, Cedric isn’t the same player as Tomiyasu, Tavares is not the same player as Tierney, Elneny is kind of but not exactly the same as Partey, and so on, and so forth…

      Some players are not and will never be at a world class level, but does anyone believe that we are in a position to demand that for our bench when our starting team isn’t really that great? Ferguson’s United are the ultimate blueprint for us and after all the hurt they gave us, we should know better. Rafael, Fabio, Fletcher, Wes Brown, O’Shea, Park, Welbeck, Butnner, Gibson, Valencia, Ashley f*cking Young, Macheda, Obertan, and so on….

      Francis had a bigger impact than any of those guys, would take Coquelin over any of those guys, those guys helped United win titles.

      In the modern game it has become very much more competitive, I get that. But at our level right now, we should be lucky to bring in the players we have sent out on loan or sold. If anyone is good enough to be on the bench of European Champions, Villareal and Real Madrid, then what makes us too good to have them on our bench?

      Arsenal fans need to start understanding that “This is where Arsenal are right now”. We are not Man City.

      We would currently turn our noses up at Ray Palour in the current Arsenal side just because he isn’t on Freddie, Patrick or Pires’ level.

      1. Great points, minor disagreement is that less-than-brilliant squad players isn’t a matter of “where Arsenal is now”, it’s just how one builds a squad (as you identified well in naming United’s squad). Only exceptions are Madrid, City and PSG – I’d argue you can beat those teams on a given day with 3-4 ‘squad players’ in the side, because football allows teams to be greater than the sum of their parts. We’ve just forgotten a bit what that looks like.

        1. I see how it might confuse, but I meant that we are at a level where Coquelin would be an exceptional back up player for us and we would be lucky to have him. Same applies to Ceballos, Guendouzi, Bellerin, Torreira, Saliba, Mavropanos, Auba (LOL) and even Willock.

          Where we are as a club, Arsenal will not be able to purchase better players than those, to come and happily sit on our bench and be rotational options. So hoping to improve the quality of our back up options in the transfer market has been embarrassing and will only get worse if we don’t try to fix the actual problems at hand of not trying to maximize the the output of the back-up players we already have.

          I assure you, you improve your back up players through demoting starters with better players, not going out to sign lesser quality, unless its a kid with potential.

          Our lack of quality back up options is down to terrible man-management, planning and tactics.

  13. We’re a bigger, more expensive mess now than we were before. I say this not necessarily from a football tactics PoV, but from a recruitment perspective. I suspect it’s down to the suits and tacticos’ inexperience and prioritising protecting their own jobs.

    After the Willian experiment failed (Cedric and Mari on big wages too), we made a virtue of buying only U23s as a strategy and now they say we need players with experience. Amazing flip flops and intentionally being vague on targets. Edu did say 2-3 years ago that the team will be ready to challenge for 2022/23, but since then we’ve had people from Per to Stuart McFarlane all try and extend that timeline and move goalposts from challenging for the top to qualifying for the CL.

    I swear this, and Arteta’s character (or lack thereof), annoys me more than any position we may end up in.

    Shad Forsythe and Paul Akers are leaving the club and I guess that signifies the complete break from the Wenger/Gazidis era.

    Anyway, so now that we are here. Let’s see.

    GK. Ramsdale and turner. Aaron has done better than expected but was questionable in the 2nd half of the season. We’re weaker here than we were with Martinez and Leno. But we go with it.

    CB. Stronger here. I like the Gabriel purchase. Not so much the White purchase because we had Saliba and Mavropanos already and could have used the funds elsewhere. All the same, we probably will need to buy another CB, Unless Saliba stays and/or trusty is ready.

    LB. Weaker, but invested in Nuno for the future, so it’s ok. Not sure whether the manager fully trusts him though. Might need to buy, especially cos tierney is injury-prone.

    RB. Better, slightly, but only because that’s the one position we were totally lacking in. Will do for this season.

    CM. Made Xhaka stay. Added Partey on superstar wages. Has re-upped Elneny. Shipped out AMN, torreira, Willock and Guendouzi and invested in Sambi at 18million. Prioritised a CB purchase instead. Will need to buy top quality here. Not sure we get anyone who fits what we need exactly. Hope to see youngsters promoted too.

    AM. Everyone’s a fan of Odegaard it seems, and I don’t get it. I must be missing something and I’m fine with accepting that. Stronger here, especially if ESR can provide good backup when needed.

    Forwards. Saka growing well. Pepe a total write off. Martinelli needs to produce more. Eddie (likely) and Balogun our only CFs. Nelson could come back. Need to buy probably 2 players here. A CF and a wide attacker. Gabriel Jesus is versatile and could help rotate with Saka. If we get him I’d look to send Balogun on loan again and add a cheap, but serviceable target man type CF here, leaving us with Martinelli (Esr) Saka Nelson Jesus Eddie New CF.

    In order of priority:
    FW (Gabriel Jesus or someone more prolific)
    CM (Ideally the mythical DM but like tim says, a good #8)
    CB (Or Saliba)

    Backup CF
    New LB

    Promote Nelson/another wide player

    Saliba 🙁

      1. Do you mean June… 2023? He’s got another year on his contract.

        Leno is being sold this month. Maybe for peanuts, but we’re not keeping him and he probably doesn’t want to stay.

        1. Oh wow, I thought the whole reason we bought Ramsdale was because Leno was refusing to re-sign with us and was leaving on a free this summer. I guess I got that information wrong.

          Hey, if we can get anything from any sale at this point, I’m happy. That’s how low my expectations are for this group.

  14. Interesting analysis, a couple of thoughts.

    – I wouldn’t necessarily lump in the first three games with the last ten. Sure there’s a case to be made that you gotta look at the season in the round & there’s utility in analysing Arteta’s management of his entire squad resources particularly at moments of duress (I mean a back three with Holding/ Chambers/ Kolasinac, lol), but fundamentally if we’re doing a state of the nation [Team/ Squad] the last ten games is much closer to “Arteta’s squad” than the first three were.

    – That being taken, would be useful to see the distribution of big changes against over the 13 games. My intuition is that they would be weighted heavily towards the first three & not having Tim’s data the best I can do is pull out 538’s match data & have a look. More or less, that shows we were -6.7 in xG for the first three vs 4.17 over the last 10. This aligns with my intuition, but not having the full data ( and acknowledging that xg might correlate to some extent with big changes but not necessarily 1:1 or even .8:1) I can’t say for sure.

    – Anyway, once we get down to reviewing first eleven vs with x number of fill-ins for the 10 game run-in, we do see a pattern, but nothing near as drastic (again, I am looking at xG rather than Big changes, so caveats apply). Xg for is stable – 1.78 for the “1st XI”, 1.78 in the back ten. Not super surprising, though you’d think losing Partey would’ve had more of an impact. Maybe Nuno made up the difference. XgAgainst is up, but only 1.36 vs 1.1. So for the back ten we’re still averaging a positive Xg, but down by a third of a goal a game.

    – So! seems to suggest that, duh, the back-ups, aren’t as good as the first team, but overall once Arteta had finished his business/ washed out the bums he still had a capable enough team. Xg ain’t everything & it’s clear that the post August squad has issues (away from home, under the lights, physicality/ press resistance – no surprise Crystal Palace twice stole our candy) but I’d be heartened by those numbers & would suggest that it’s not the defensive back up that’s our priority but a striker & press resistant/ chance creating midfielders. My eyes say that in the last ten our problem was chance creation & that we only really gave up big chances in specific circumstances (down to 10 vs Spurs, chasing Newcastle after 70 mins).

    1. The first 3 matches were 14-1 Big Chances against. The final 10 matches we were allowing 2.1 big chances against and creating 2.0 which does seem to suggest that the season average was just about right.

  15. Further thoughts:

    – Mental maths isn’t a strong point. Net xg is down closer to a quarter of a goal a game, not a third. Apologies.

    – Am interested in how we treat outlier events. Now, I’m an amateur with an agenda (giving rosy eyed analysis of the state of The Arsenal since 2000!) but I think in looking at the last ten there’s a strong case for discounting 2 of the big changes against (eg the pens from the Manyoo & the Spurs games) these were law is an ass interpretations that converted non dangerous situations (<.02 by my eyeball) to .8 or whatever chances. Would not do this for denial of a clear goal-scoring opportunity, obviously.

    – Similarly, Tottenham only really racked up the xG once we were down to 10 – they got post red card 2.7, which is a huge outlier & significantly distorts our sample eg, without, our defence gets 1.11 xg over the 9 games, which is pretty strong & our attack less Tottenham is 1.94 – turns out with an injury diminished eleven (rather than ten men, as we had for that -2.7 xg) we're still going great guns.

    – But LT, I hear you cry (no-one calls me that, it's not a real name), you can't just exclude data points you don't like, that's not how it works. Besides, red cards are part of the game! They are a proxy for how "sensible" your team is, how well they function under pressure. Same with penos! And Arsenal had luck on their side during those games – teams kept giving Nketieh goals (Eddie's accountant would like to thank Christenson & Meslier for a truly satisfactory outcome to his salary negotiations)!, Diallo coulda had a penalty!

    – This is all true, it's really just a thought experiment to walk through how we think about analysing small samples or sub samples. 38 games, I'll grant thee theoretically we should have our luck even out (to which, lol! draw a line between the wash and the bristol channel and plot the birthplaces of the Premier league referees and then come to me for a discussion of luck vs enemy action), but if we're going to draw conclusions on the basis of 10-15 game samples, we do need to look for outliers & determine how to deal with them. I think I'd be happy just striking out any penalty that can be classed as misfortune rather oafishness (eg: Tottenham vs Burnley, Nuno's vs Manyoo – both had ball to arm strikes from close range in a second phase moment. Cedric vs Spurs I'm on the fence for, but think that in general those don't get given. I'd put it at 0.2 on my incredibly made up xPeno index. Speaking of made up indices, isn't Rambo treading a fine line on the xGoalgivenawayduetoboneheadplay index? Truly a protected soul this season…) across any range of fixtures. For red cards I'm happy on a conceptual basis to exclude from a small sample, but not from a full season (though, see the map we drew above & consider Crystal Palace at home and Everton [oh, but it was accidental… nah, mate, not even talking about that, thinking about the five times Godfrey kicked Saka] away. 5 points and that's Champions' league baby).

    – Guess it depends really what we're looking for. My view is that if we're analysing ceteris paribus defensive capability, then we should exclude 10 man game state & specious penalties. After doing that, our defense looks – well – pretty swell, actually, even with the crap full backs. However, if we're thinking about grace under pressure and clutch capability there's a reasonably strong argument to throw them back in [Cedric & Holding marked DOWN for Spurs, as they should be], though clutch circumstances are sufficiently rare for it to be closer to a qualitative argument rather than a quant exercise [Looking at you! Arteta in the Europa league semi/ vs Newcastle… but but FA cup run/ Also: Klopp in finals]. And yeah, there's an overlap in the categories defensive capability/ grace under pressure, but as an exercise it's worth bearing in mind – how much can unfortunate events be parsed as the sad beneficience of lady luck vs a deficit of mental fortitude/ brittleness of managerial inspiration/ approach? Difficult questions to answer & ones that are easily swayed by narrative building around outlier events. Obviously from my slavishly regime supporting perspective it's a PGMOL conspiracy, but Other Narratives Can Be Built.

    Anyway, apologies for the rambling – Tim, if you've made it through, would value your view on the outliers/ sample size discussion.

  16. On sample size. In 96 PL games, Arteta has 163 points (=1.7 ppg) 148 goals (1.5/game) and has conceded 108 (1.1/game)

    Despite all the different plans, transfers, tactics, and good & bad runs, he’d been quite consistent right from his first batch of 20 games.

    But there has been an uptick this season. 1.9 ppg in the last 36 games (Weird metric I know, but it helps Arteta by removing 2 defeats) 23 goals conceded in the last 16 games is a bit disappointing but probably is explained by injuries to first choice players.

    I hope the improvement in ppg and goals scored means he and we are getting better, but I’m inclined to attribute it to a lack of European football. Even accounting for the world cup, we should know by January whether we’re building on this season or reverting to Arteta’s comfort zone of around 1.6 ppg.

  17. Superb post, fascinating discussion.

    One thing (among others) seems clear… what we’ve done is — for reasons apparently unrelated to football — is foreclose on the talents of a heap of players who likely would have made the difference in the 3 point gap by which we fell short of CL qualification.

    Devlin, youre not here enough mate. This is a great quote:

    “Guendouzi was the same and he has been really good while we are missing a central midfield presence outside of Partey. Torreira has been playing the very role that people are crying out for a signing in, the right sided midfielder who defends and can get into the box as well. Ceballos who was supposedly not good enough for our squad depth is good enough for the champions of Europe’s squad depth. Auba who couldnt score goals and was rightfully disposed of has been a revelation at f*cking Barcelona. We have to rely on Holding when Saliba is now a starter for France, while players who have always been regarded as lesser talents to him in Konate (Just started a UCL final and Fofana (crucial to Leicester city already) are thriving in the EPL, so please no bullsh*t about him needing development elsewhere, he is already the best centerback on our books”.

    You said the same thing’s I’ve been arguing, only better. We give away the contents of our fridge, then claim to not have enough food for a decent meal. Buy duff players and send away good ones. Torpedo squad depth, then complain about injuries to the injury-prone.

    My favourite line among the other contributions is this attempted exculpatory one from LA… “he didnt plan to send Auba packing”. No, your honour…. I did not forsee, in August, that I would cut my nose to spite my face the following January.

    Sure Auba had problems that season, including health problems, that stopped him from firing at the level we know that he could. But at the point at which he was dropped from the team (please do read James Olley’s long report for ESPN on the matter, and try to spot the offence that warranted total blanking and expulsion), he had had more goals than Harry Kane, and was STILL among the team’s leading scorers. To justify Arteta’s decision, you’d have to argue that the decline was terminal. Well, Xavi showed how to get the most out of him (and out of Ousmane Dembele, for that matter, an out-of-sorts winger like Pepe). The smart thing for the ball club would have been to give itself the best chance by maintaining offensive depth. At that point, Auba couldnt argue with being dropped from the starting XI. His confidence was so low, he was missing tap ins against Everton. What a smart coach does is challenge him, through injured pride and a spell on the bench, to raise his level and come storming back. Our head coach chose to go nuclear, and for what? A small timekeeping infraction. Read Olley’s report.

    There’s no such thing as a squad of perfect individuals, and that’s the problem with Arteta. His decision-making with squad building and player retention has, overall, been poor. Mikel’s backers are presenting Saliba’s emergence (Devlin is right… he’s the best central defender that Arsenal has) as some sort of shrewd forward planning on Mikel’s part, when it is a straight, open and shut case of f****** around a player… a player he appears not to have fancied for some reason. The player’s performances are an embarrassment to the manager and an indictment of his judgement, not a validation of his handling of him.

    He had Saliba and Mavropanos (with Chambers and Holding as depth), and went on to get Mari and White, who, of the currently available evidence is good but unexceptional, and certainly not a level up from what he had. He cost big bucks, and his current market value is £15m below what we paid. Tellingly, the price being bandied about for the sale of Gabriel, a better defender, is £40m. The car needed engine oil, but the driver decided that his priority was to upholster the seats.

    And oh, how many gooners are aware that at the point that Arteta had Mustafi and Saliba as squad options, he offered Musti a CONTRACT EXTENSION, which he turned down? Arteta: “I’m really happy with him. That’s something that the club has to address but he knows my opinion on that.” Mustafi, keep. Xhaka, keep. Elneny, keep. See a pattern? No other manager — certainly not one named Wenger — consistently goes in that direction.

    Everybody is now an expert on Guendouzi’s behaviour. What did he do? A Mason Greenwood? What’s undeniable is that he’s another player embarrassing Arteta with the quality of his football, compared to the guys here now (Sambi, Elneny and even Xhaka) who have been retained. Xhaka showed the blueprint for being favoured… have the manager’s back, and trash the players. Perhaps Guen was not like that. Whatever the case, he’s one of an exciting group of young, emerging players for France, alongside Tchouaméni, Saliba and Camavinga. Camavinga subs on late in games for Real. For us, Elneny would be doing that, and Sambi — who we were told is our next big thing — is nowhere to be seen. Sambi is not even on Maitland Niles’ level as a midfielder.

    Torreira? More selective revisionism. He was small, but the guys plays with heart — and no little skill — that belies his stature. He had good games against big teams, Liverpool and Spurs. He won his first meeting with Fabinho. No one is arguing that he should start, but play NO role whatsoever? The main argument against that was that his heart didn’t appear to be in England and he wanted to go to South America, but he did go to the EPL. Once his move to SA didnt happen, we could have looked to re-integrate. Dont tell me he wasnt good enough for the Arsenal squad.

    I asked a question of gooners, pro and con, if they think that our current manager is the man to restore us a top table EPL force in football. To take us from the “where we are right now” that Tim sketches so well. Not one said yes.

    1. Your final paragraph is asking for disappointment for years to come, Arteta or no Arteta.

      We are never going to be a “top table EPL force”. We might be very good team that occasionally gets into the top 4 and a taste of Champions League, but unless the football landscape changes dramatically, we will never be a “force” again. We just don’t have Jurgen Klopp nor the funding of oligarchs or oil states or the largest fan base in the world (United).

      We should just accept the new reality and enjoy the football. We’re the PL version of Dortmund. That can be fun too.

      As you know, I’m pro-Arteta. I think he inherited a poorly constructed squad that had a lot of great parts, sure, but the jig saw puzzle didn’t fit right, and some players didn’t fit with him personally – that happens, no matter who the manager is. He’s 40, the youngest manager in the league and only 3 years into his very first managerial job. We have to say he’s learning on the job – I’ve seen improvement in his management these last couple of years. Sure he still makes mistakes, but again, it’s part of the learning process and he’s improving. His man management will improve with time also. He’s not a finished product.

      Same goes for Edu, this is his first major job running a club. Last summer’s business showed a huge improvement over the year prior. I’m going to be hopeful that this summer will be just as good if not better – we have no reason to suggest it will be otherwise, other than negativity biases.

      Why don’t we just see what happens?

      1. ‘We’re the PL version of Dortmund.’

        This is so patently not true. Dortmund take risks. They unearth gems and give opportunities to teenagers to prove themselves. They’ve made themselves the ‘go to club’ for Europe’s top teenage talent. They’re an elite talent factory. In which alternative universe do Bellingham, Sancho, Haaland get game time for Arsenal? With the exception of Martinelli the only youngsters getting game time are the academy alumni debuted by Emery and Freddie. Name me the academy prospects that got game time this season? Even 5 goals up against Everton where’s the run out for one of the kids? Last Summer’s buying strategy was to pay top dollar for twentysomethings that had already cemented their PL credentials. Dortmund aren’t spending £50M on Ben White. They’re making Ben White.

        As for Claude’s final para, why can’t Arsenal ape Liverpool? Shrewd buying and selling and a really good coach is all it takes.

        1. And not only that but Dortmund are an attraction for a ton of players because they routinely challenge for the title and feature in the Champions League.

          We are a lot more like Everton than Dortmund.

        2. Get in Wenger in his younger years and give him this Arsenal,a big difference you would see.

  18. Devlin

    I would argue most every PL team and every PL manager in this century has a players who played better with other teams. We all agree Arsene was a top manager but I could probably make a list of dozens of players who played better with other teams then they did for Arsene. I remember several players that Fergie bought who did not work out and I am sure the same it true for Mourinho Pep and probably Klopp. Lukaku was great in Italy but not so good here and I don’t believe that means his manager was the problem.

    We have to judge managers by the same critieria whether we like them or not. If a few players having more success with other teams means Arteta/Emery were bad managers then I suspect almost every manager in history is bad.

  19. We all watched Torriera, Ceballos and its revisionist history to suggest they would have made a difference. Mavroponos came during the Wenger era and never established himself as a usable PL player. How many years do we wait for them to come good.

    I would agree with anyone who says we have not gotten as much value for the money we have spent over the last 6-7 years but that has been a problem which started with Wenger/Gazidis and has continued thru different front office and managerial regimes. Do we keep changing front offices every year forever. Finishing 5th this year seems well above expectations and suggests there has been some improvement and the current group at least seems to have a long term plan. Do we really want to sack Arteta and Edu and go a different direction and start over again.

    1. Is there anyone who wanted to pay Madrid 30m for Ceballos? C’mon….

      Is there anyone who watched Torreira get shoved off the ball with regularity that wanted him as the 5th or 6th midfielder on the depth chart? C’mon.

      Mavropanos from what I remember of him was injured a lot. He did well in the Bundesliga, OK. That doesn’t mean he can hack it in the toughest league in the world.

      Looks like we’re just back to searching for sticks to beat Arteta and Edu with, no matter how we do. I can’t wait for the wailing and gnashing of teeth when we sell Saliba, which is happening. People will hang that on Arteta too. And get ready – we will sell Saka, ESR, Odegaard and Martinelli one day too. It has to happen to keep the train moving along.

      1. Where is the train heading though? And why does it need to be with Arteta at the helm if none of it matters and everyone is disposable? You seem to think we should rejoice in nurturing Arteta’s managerial career. Where’s the upside?

        Of course people will hang Saliba’s departure on Arteta??? It is on him. And it is a pattern of bad management of resources. Which, since we’re not ManCity, Chelsea, ManU or Newcastle, and since he’s not Klopp, should really bother us if we’re at all interested in getting better. Anyway, he’s definitely here for another season at least so you can substitute being annoyed at the management by being annoyed at the people who question the management.

        1. Further to this, Shard, I disagree with Jack (@ 9.10am) on our capabilities. Arsenal has the financial standing of a big club, and the management should be looking to match that on the field. We didn’t do the Emirates project to be a Top 8 club.

          Jack would absolutely not be giving that assessment if we had hired Conte or Allegri. Gooners have adjusted their expectations far downwards in line with the quality of its current management. It was not that long ago that we were challenging our management to make us top table competitive… now here you are, saying that your expectation is to be only occasionally competitive in the Top 4! Jeez, how far we’ve fallen.

          Nah, man. As my pastor says, I “rebuke” this vision of the kind of club that we can be. If we’re going to entrust what can rise to £400m of transfer spending by this manager by window’s end, we’re better off entrusting it to guys who are shrewder managers and stewards. You know, I’ve asked myself if my expectation of the club I’ve followed for 26 years are unreasonable, and they’re not. Not at all. Im not settling for a development project around an admittedly bright and promising young manager.

          We have to choose. Club first, or Mikel first.

          I accept that he’ll be there for a while, and I’ll never stop yelling for the team on game day; but if even the people who back him think he’s not up to the task of keeping a big and wealthy club in a certain echelon, that in itself is damning.

          Sigh. I so want to feel hopeful about this club’s direction again.

          1. First – I would never ever want to hire Allegri or Conte (or Ancelotti, or Enrique, or Mancini, any “established” pedigreed manager that comes in like a mercenary and has a 1-2 year plan). Allegri is vastly overrated and Conte is not a builder of sustainable teams.

            Look at what Conte just did – sign Perisic, a 33 year old winger. C’mon. He has never seen a veteran he didn’t love. Expect Spurs to bring in Alexis Sanchez any day now. When he leaves them in a couple of years they might well have won a trophy or two, but they’ll be left with an aging overpaid squad. Every team he has ever managed has ended the same way – him leaving in a huff because the club wouldn’t buy the players he wanted. He’s not a developer of young players or builder of lasting teams.

            The Emirates project is yesterday’s news. Spurs already have a bigger and better stadium. Everton will soon have a bigger and better stadium. The new Chelsea owner is promising a bigger and better stadium. The idea that matchday turnover is going to fund an elite squad is ancient thinking. Matchday revenues are meek compared to tv revenues, prize earnings and sponsorship money. We may be one of the richest clubs in Europe, but according to the Forbes list, United, Liverpool, City and Chelsea are all above us. Spurs are only two spots behind us and climbing fast. By finishing 5th, but with the 7th highest payroll, we basically finished about where we should finish based on financial strength and arguably, we punched above our weight this season.

            I think you’re setting yourself up for a real disappointing next few years if you don’t lower expectations. City have won 4 out of the 5 last seasons – why will that change? Liverpool have the best manager in the world – by some margin. United have the biggest fan base in the world and financial resources that dwarf ours. Chelsea may have lost their sugar daddy but the club infrastructure he funded is still there.

            Who do you think we’re leap frogging into the top 4? And what manager do you think carries us there? Vieira? Nagelsman? Pocchetino?

            To answer Shard’s question what do we get out of letting Arteta and Edu learn on the job? Stability. Sustainability. The ability to carry out a longer term plan rather than a series of 1-2 year plans like United are in the midst of, flopping around without anything to show for it.

          2. “Vieira? Nagelsman? Pocchetino?” — Any of those would be good, yeah. My preference –

            1. Poch (for the potential to pull another Sol Campbell)

            2. Vieira (nostalgia, Palace look alright, and looks like he’s still up for a fight)

            3. Nagelsmann (took a team in relegation places to CL places within 18 months)

          3. I have a feeling (based on what Ian Wright has said) that Patrick Vieira will never manage Arsenal. There’s bad blood there from when he came back to the PL and played for City. Then City took him in, gave him a good contract, and then let him manage their club in MLS.

            I think he’s in line for the City job when Pep leaves.

  20. I agree with the first couple of paragraphs of the comment from Jack Action at 9:20AM. Anyone can be 100% accurate when they make arguments retrospectively. Decisions have to be judged based on the situation that existed at the time that decision was made. I doubt there was anyone who prospectively would have suggested we should have bought Dani Ceballos after watching his 2 year loan spell. To suggest now that our management made a mistake should have kept him or Torriera is absolutely ridiculous and casts doubt on the validity of the point they are trying to make.

    With regard to the points about our resources, I agree again with Jack Action. The world has completely changed since the Emirates project was conceived. Back then the league was a duopoly with ManU and Arsenal the only legitimate title challengers and top 4 was basically a shoe in. Even with paying for the Emirates we still financially outgunned almost all of the other teams in the league not named ManU. Once the Chelsea project came to fruition and there were 2 other teams our league titles ended. Next came ManCity and now there were 3 teams outgunning us financially and 4th place became the biggest trophy. When Liverpool ascended and Spurs started to close the gap between us and them and top 4 has not happened since then. Next to come on line in the big spenders is Newcastle which will make it even tougher. The rest of the league below the top 4-5 has improved also. The idea there is a management team out there who can back the clock to 2004 when we won titles and champions league football was a guarantee is utterly and completely unrealistic.

    1. Here’s the thing about Ceballos. I really really dislike him. I never wanted him at the club. I was ok that he was brought back as an option rather than a starter. But the problem is not not signing Ceballos permanently. the problem is that we’re downgrading on even him. We had Guendouzi and ok if you have problems with him you get rid, fine. But once again, we downgrade on him. Massively. And it’s not that we’re short of funds which is forcing these decisions. If anything Arteta is spending like money is no object, except when he’s complaining about needing more.

  21. So, Jack. Winning trophies and playing CL football in exchange for spending on experience is bad, but spending for finishing 5th to 8th is very good. Flopping around for 1-2 years is worse than flopping around for 5 years.

    Because there’s a long term plan…. which we shouldn’t expect leads to trophies. It never gets assessed. Cannot be examined as to its actual goals and timelines. Doesn’t even offer exciting football (okay subjective, but still). And yet we’re stable because Edu is safe and Arteta is safe, despite the guy literally changing tack every 5 months or so, and finding a new reason as to why he’s not to blame and how difficult it all is and how much more money and experience and time he needs before he gets us ‘where this club deserves to be’.

    So basically, it is good to keep Arteta in the job because the goal is to keep Arteta in the job. I agree that’s what’s happening here.

    1. You forgot about the biannual “culture changes”. Pretty sure he’s had to fix the culture three times now.

      What I don’t understand very well is why a number of the big name fans are happy with the way all of this is going.

      1. I think it’s the same reason it annoys me as much as it does. Once you get people hooked on the idea that everything before you was really bad, and you are the savior guiding them to the promised land, everything then becomes acceptable. Any bargains and demands you make have to be with yourself. Any failings are someone trying to sabotage you. It is the vision/dream that is real, the saviour who is true, and reality must fit in or be destroyed. I’m thinking of politics here honestly, and maybe I am so visceral about this is because Arsenal and football was supposed to be an escape from all that.

        I think lots of people backed themselves into a corner with the narratives around Wenger, Gazidis, and even Emery and now just want things to FEEL better. You saw signs of it with Raul too. Arteta just repeats the culture schtick because people connected with it and approved. It’s a buzzword like project and process that needs no further explanation. And really, we’ve replaced the joy of winning or of good football by running down other clubs, and other fans (again something Arteta has personally inculcated, like in politics) who can’t see the grand plan. It’s as much a sign of decline as any.

        1. The cynic in me sees this through the lens of American sports franchises, where the owners do just enough to keep bilking the fans out of money by giving us new projects and culture changes and a few good players (just enough to stay “competitive”). It’s literally all about “connecting with the fans” and I think that’s what they have done exceptionally well. Lots of shirt drops, fan projects, local community ads, and the like. The football, the sport, and competition is often not really that relevant: it’s something to look at and talk about while you thumb through the latest kit catalog and chat with your buddies about where you think the club is going and who the next star will be.

          And in a way, this is where we are too. We aren’t going to get oligarch money in the door. Newcastle is going to buy every player we set our sights on. We are going to be 4th to 8th every year (unless we get really lucky). And as some folks have suggested, maybe we should just set our expectations there and enjoy the distraction.

          I don’t know. Perhaps this is the turmoil inside me. I’ve not bought a thing from the club since about 2016 and I do so because I don’t feel like giving Enos any money. I still love Arsenal and the memories but I’m not in love with this new corporate Arsenal. It’s like a dead husk of Arsenal, Zombie Arsenal, still plodding along, revitalized every six months to sell us a new kit.

  22. Last message. I apologise for being as belligerent as I was here. It’s no excuse but this Arsenal narrative really frustrates me, and I let that get the better of me. I stand by what I said, but am sorry about the tone of it, especially as it comes across as aimed at people here. I assure you it’s not personal. I’ll try to be less of a @%$!

  23. I agree with Jack on one thing… I wouldn’t want us to hire Conte or Allegri. That’s just not us. All I was saying was that if we had hired either, his expectations of the club would probably have been higher. I get the feeling sometimes that people are adjusting for Mikel’s lack of experience, rather than the club’s actual strengths. That’s not my mindset. I’d like to see Arteta become the coach that good judges think he’s destined to be, but not at the expense of the club wasting opportunities to optimise its strengths.

    People who back Arteta on the basis of purity of the ideal of a young coach with Arsenal DNA taking us forward in a patient project in which he’s given the leeway of 5 years of small or no returns — if need be — remind me of progressive Democrats in US politics. They’d rather virtue signal than win elections. So they dont vote if they dont get everything that they want. Pelosi is tactically supporting pro-2A or anti-abortion candidates in red-tinged districts, with the understanding that they’ll support 85% of her agenda. The AOC-affiliated progs would rather field, in those red-tinged districts, pure prog candidates who have no chance of winning those races. Biden is taking crap — from his own side — for forgiving a significant chunk of student debt. Why? He didnt forgive 100% of it.

    So to the football… Spurs nixed Nuno and Chelsea nixed Lampard in a heartbeat. Sorry, we love you, but you’re not That Guy, and we have top table football targets to pursue. The virtue signaling action would have been to retain both, and preach patience for the project.

    Am I saying sack Mikel tomorrow? No, Im not. He’s already been heavily invested in. Better to see it through, and better for us all — as Jack correctly says — to hope that he’s learned from his mistakes, and will become a better manager next season. The end of season collapse clearly stung him. Let’s hope it motivates him to become a better manager, in all respects. Im a Mikel skeptic, but in the minutes before kickoff for every match, I am a supporter. If he wins, Arsenal wins.

    About Allegri and Conte, Im not going to turn up my nose at another club that does hire either man. They’re proven coaches at the highest level. What’s wrong with hiring them? The clubs would be doing the football equivalent of corporate turnaround, which is a responsible thing for any board to want to do.

    If you’re lucky, you’ll find a Klopp. If youre slightly less lucky, ten Hag and Tuchel. Those were all already proven coaches at the top level when hired by Liverpool, United and Chelsea.

    And Shard already answered the Perisic question (didnt we chase him and Carrasco hard in the recent past?), with his (nakedly rhetorical) question about Kulusevsky and Betancur. Shard, I feel you on not wanting to be a neg nag. Thought long and hard about jumping in. But I dont want to traffic in delusions and spin either. I want to see no-excuses ambition from Arsenal.

  24. History proves teams which spend the most money usually finish on top. As great as the Wenger years were, once the Chelsea spending project came on board it basically spelled the end of us as legitimate title challengers. Arsene managed 14 seasons after the 03/04 title, our points totals behind the league leaders have been 12, 24, 21, 4, 18, 11, 12, 19, 16, 7, 12, 10, 18 ,37. The only real season we actually challenged for the league title was 07/08 where we finished 4 points behind ManU in 3rd. The only other time we came within 10 points of the league winner was 13/14 where we finished 7 points behind in 4th but we were never really in the race. For as good as he was Arsene could not overcome the teams that consistently outspent us and its very unlikely that we can find any manager or front office team who can consistently overcome teams the big spenders unless someone buys us who will compete dollar for dollar with the big money teams.

    I am not saying we will never win another title or play in the CL again. However, the landscape it completely different then it was in 1996-2004 and its even a lot more difficult now then it was in 2005-2015. If we are going to expect any manager to make us a consistent top 4 team and fire him in 2 -3 years if he does not, then we will probably not like anyone and we will be churning thru a lot of managers.

  25. The one season out of the Arsene’s final 14 where we finished ahead of all of the big spending teams was the year Leicester happened.

    1. Bill, you’re never going to believe who the biggest spender last season was 🙂

      Look, no one said getting Top 4 was easy. It wasn’t easy when Wenger was doing it with Park, Santos, Denilson, Chamakh, Sanderos, Djourou, Stepanovs and past it Silvestre when his transfer budget shriveled. The challenge of a board is to find a coach who, given the resources that we gave Arteta, can deliver for a club with Top 4 ambition. They don’t grow on trees, but they’re out there. It’s their job to find and hire them. They might as well quit football if they’re going to throw up their hands and say, to borrow an oft-used phrase from you, “there’s nothing we can do”. There always is.

      1. I don’t understand why people want to use the 250m spent last season as yet another stick to beat Arteta and Edu with… can you imagine how this season would have gone if we hadn’t spent that money?!? I’m not Dr. Strange and can’t find you that alternate universe, but I’m telling you it’s an 8th place squad and one the fans would not be getting behind like this one. Odegaard, Ramsdale, White and Tomiyasu were worth 15-20 pts, easy.

        But I feel like people think that as soon as you spend big money on revamping the squad it’s translated as immediate ambition. It wasn’t. They spent on young players where they knew the pay off was years away. And that’s why again, it’s good to stick with Arteta and Edu, let this thing work itself into shape.

        1. I was just appraising Bill of something that he didn’t appear to be aware of. Not using it as a stick to beat anyone.

          We gooners need to lose the smugness around comparative spending. This supposed valiant struggle by Arsenal against big spenders. Historically for 18 years City and Chelsea essentially bought glory, yes, but apart from City and latterly Newcastle, sugardaddly level spending isn’t there as much as before. Not gone totally… just not there as much as before. The sugardaddy clubs have become much smarter. Haaland had a surprisingly low release clause. Jota and Diaz are terrific players who were bargains, continuing a pattern of very shrewd buying (and selling) by Liverpool. btw, Jota’s £45m price was £10m cheaper than Ben White — unbelievable, given that strikers fetch far more than defenders, and he’s only a year older.

          For me, City, Liverpool and Madrid are the 3 best teams in football. Liverpool came within 1 goal and 1 point of an unbelievable quadruple without sugardaddy spending, with shrewd financial management, savvy recruitment, and an outstanding head coach hire. They broke the bank for for VVD and Alisson, and Klopp was the cherry on top. Expensive duds like Andy Carroll and Christian Benteke preceded Klopp. Konate looks a bargain at £40m (did I mention Ben White’s £55m? sorry, I’ll put stick down now)

          Look, high spending comes with expectations. Always did, always will. And being the highest spenders is a big deal. Ally that to no midweek European games and travel, it looms even larger.

          To your comment below about trust and faith, that’s great. Honestly. We all cant be of like mind. Me? I want the club’s managers to be better than they are. They fall short — for me — in too many ways.

        2. You don’t understand how people are upset that we spent 50m on a position we didn’t need for a player who is good but not great instead of spending where we needed it in midfield and attack?

  26. Great article, confirms the eye test and matches the numbers totals for the last 3 years!

    Why did these guys breakdown? Arteta never rotates, easy to see.

    We have guys on the books who could have got us 4th period, Arteta and company just did not manage those assets very well.

    For me, if Saliba does not walk in, we move Xhaka out, get some competition for our defensive flanks, get a true dm and scorer up top, then the entire thing is just a scam, that stan the maN has perfected.

    Not holding my breath…

  27. I think we don’t trust anything anymore.

    We don’t trust the media, our government, our neighbors, our kids’ teachers, our bosses, our own beliefs at times.

    It’s because we’re in an age where every little failure and incompetence is magnified and blasted across social media and the internet. Trust is being obliterated daily.

    This translates to our clubs now. If someone at a club says we have a plan, fans say “sure, sure, but we don’t trust you”. It’s the default position now.

    I know a lot of Man Utd fans who have no trust in their club’s ability to build a team and get back to the top. And they have twice the resources we have.

    Who would we trust? Who has an unquestioned track record of having built an elite team with similar or less resources that’s out there? Klopp? Taken. Pocchetino? Spurs were “elite” under his watch? C’mon. Who?

    So I just choose to trust the current management. Is it unearned faith? Largely. So what? This is a football club. If 5 years hence that trust is proven to have been misplaced, what did I lose? Nothing. But at least it’s one less thing in the world I’ve chosen to distrust.

    1. I can understand and respect this view. People argue a lot about whether others can’t see what the plan is, or conversely how others have been fooled. I think people just choose how to follow the team they support and want the best for.

      It’s perfectly valid to say you know I have no control over this, I like Arteta, and I choose to trust he knows what he’s doing. It is not inherently worse or better than any other way of supporting the club. It’s a whole lot more honest than what we tend to do. Make up a logical explanation for why we are justified in the way we’ve chosen. It’s unnecessary.

      I wish Arteta and the club would stop doing the same. So many of these online arguments stem from no one really knowing what the ‘project’ really is. I can only think it is done to protect the employees, and through them, the owners, from any fan discontent.

      On a related note, I don’t really mind us finishing low in the table or failing to meet targets. I do mind that the club has made failing a word that doesn’t exist. Every failure is actually just things going to plan. Even when they only outlined the target once it was seemingly within grasp, they say we’re ahead of schedule when they miss out. I also think it affects the players’ attitude. Manager gets a new contract. We’re ahead of schedule anyway. So it’s ok to miss out on top 4. Meanwhile Henry says it would be failure and our own fans attack him for it. It’s a bad culture (there’s that word) brewing at the club in my view. I envy your ability to trust them. I only see the state of the club, and the world, and I wonder how I can.

      1. “I can only think it is done to protect the employees, and through them, the owners, from any fan discontent”

        Yep. This is it. Edu and Arteta are meatshields for the Kroenkes.

  28. “I still love Arsenal and the memories but I’m not in love with this new corporate Arsenal. It’s like a dead husk of Arsenal, Zombie Arsenal, still plodding along, revitalized every six months to sell us a new kit.”

    For me, I think the club really started to die when they sacked those 55 employees, including Gunnersaurus, the guy who was at the club for nearly 3 whole decades, without so much as a public acknowledgment. It ceases to be a club, let alone a family environment, when people who have served are so easily brushed aside, their work or characters attacked, their legacies tarnished. On top of that, they did it after forcing players to take a pay cut, and Arteta was really shown as lacking character in the aftermath. And not for the last time.

    I haven’t bought any merchandise from the club for a while as well. I don’t have anything against paying Kroenke as such, but I will not reward the sort of behavior they’re exhibiting. I wouldn’t be proud to represent that.

    As for connecting with fans. I sort of agree. I think it’s short termist. Fans in the UK (Arsenal do push a lot of messaging about being locally rooted nowadays) and US maybe. I reckon that’s probably where they get the bulk of merchandise sales. But as for Asia and Africa etc, I don’t know. We weren’t winning. We had a lot of bad press. But our fanbase was constantly growing and I think people connected with the values that the club has thrown away now. I mean, I’m a fan since I was 10 years old, loyal as they come, more patient than many, stubborn as well (shocking, I know) and I’m now finding it easier and easier to find other clubs and entities to emotionally invest in even at the cost of Arsenal. Of course I’m a sample size of 1 and they’ll have the numbers to sift through, but I feel Arsenal will lose ground. We’re no longer the hipster’s choice anyway.

    But yeah, fan connection is why Arteta is safe. Because they tried much of this same spiel with Emery and Raul and the former definitely didn’t have the charisma to pull it off, despite being a better football coach/manager for the club. I don’t think Emery ever wanted to pull down expectations the way Mikel does either. For all his faults, Emery is very much a football man rather than being about image. I must say though, I find it both fitting and funny that Arteta’s pay rise is almost exactly matched by stadium ticket price increases. It’s what singing We’ve got Super Mik gets you.

    1. Much as I agree with you on a lot that you say here, I’m getting that gold on black away shirt. It’s a stunner. Take my money, Josh.

      1. Oh some of those shirts have been fantastic. It hasn’t been easy not giving in.

    2. When it sacked 55 staff?

      I’ll raise you that Shard, and say that the club started to die when it decided to leave Highbury.*

      I feel like I’m the more positive one of the two of us, and then you pull the rug on me like that? Maybe in the end you do have higher expectations of the club than me.

      I don’t see Arteta’s arrival as a significant change in the standard (i.e. horrible) corporate values that have been demonstrated over the last 15 years. I don’t credit him with that much influence.

      In quite limited footballing terms I do see it as a hopeful opportunity to change the values of the team, find players who care and – win or lose – find a new generation of terrace heroes.

      *Wenger was the driving force behind all that. I love the man for his passion, integrity and intelligence but I don’t forget that he’s also fully on board with the financialization of the sport – or at least he has decided that there is no point in trying to fight it.

      1. BTW Shard thanks for the conversations this season, I know I have been a bit argue-y, I’m actually pretty easy-going in real life so I guess this is my outlet.

      2. I don’t think it was just Wenger though. If it were they wouldn’t have purged the entire scouting staff, including youth scouts and youth coaches. You know, there really hasn’t been enough discussion on that. It also just conveniently comes under culture and process and you get puff pieces every 4 months or so about the job Per is doing.

        Btw, I think Gazidis understood the club too. I know he wasn’t everyone’s favourite. No reason he should be. His job was to be the suit and by its nature a little aloof. I blamed him for running away, but he saw the way it was going I guess.

        Arteta came in and thought he knows everything. If you go back a little, it’s funny how the club line was constantly how he’s a genius coach, but at the start of this season they called him a young coach who can develop along with the team. No, you’re right. His influence is likely not enough to affect corporate policy. But he carries it out zealously.

        Amateur psycho-analysis time. I think he’s at heart very submissive to authority. He likes the hierarchy of things to be set. He plays nice with his boss, and his players are supposed to do the same for him. Or else it’s a threat to the entire organisation. I don’t think this is conducive to bringing in top talent to the club. Our best bet might just be to bring in ManCity players who already have a relationship with him, but I’m not sure even they’ll choose us. We’re in decline, and far from having a plan to curb it, I fear Arsenal are exacerbating it. What was that people used to say? Papering over the cracks.

        Oh and since this rant has gone on this long, I might as well also say I hate the aesthetic changes around the dressing room, the tunnel and the training ground. It looks tacky and not classy now.

        PS. thanks for that Greg. It’s (almost) always been a healthy debate between us anyway and I am glad there’s no ill-will. It’s all good. I enjoy your argue-y-ments 🙂

  29. I believe that when the club hired Emery there was a belief that we had Ozil, Laca, Auba, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Kos, Nacho, Xhaka, Bellerin, Mustafi Kolasinac and the expectation was those guys just needed a new manager to re-energize them and we could quickly move back into the top 4. They brought in Raul and his bunch to try and bring some experience and new ideas to the front office. Turns out a lot of those players who were critical to Arsene’s top 4 teams were further past their prime then we had hoped and some of the other like Bellerin, Mustafi, Xhaka Laca Kolasinac were just not as good as we had thought or their attitude/ambition was not were it needed to be. Raul and his group in the front office were also a bust. They spent big on Pepe to try and needed star power back into the mix but that bombed. In the end it all went to sh*t and Emery was sacked. It always easier to know this in retrospect but the reality is the whole thing should have been blown up and a complete rebuild was needed when Arsene left but the club was not ready to do that.

    I believe when Arteta and Edu were hired they along with Kronke decided together the club needed to fix the wage bill and a long term rebuild in both the playing staff and also the culture was needed. Part of that rebuilding was moving players like Ozil who were on big wages and no longer producing and getting rid of players whose attitude was suboptimal like Mustafi and Kolasinac. They stuck with Auba and even paid him as long as he was producing but moving him after 1 1/2 years of high wages age and dropping production fit perfectly with that plan. Auba at 32 was clearly not going to be part of a long term rebuild. This idea that Arteta is on his own making decisions like moving Auba or Ozil seems completely ridiculous to me. I think Kronke and Edu have stuck with and supported Arteta despite a couple 8th place finishes because I believe there is a long term plan in place and they knew it would not be easy and take some time.

    At least in my mind that is the most reasonable theory which explains everything that has happened.

    The question is can this group effectively execute their plan and that remains to be seen. The landscape of our league is such that its going to be nearly impossible to build a team that can be a consistent title contender that can consistently go deep in the CL and its even going to be very difficult to rebuild a consistent top 4 team given the number a big money teams in the PL. I don’t believe we want to get into a cycle of changing managers every 2 years

    1. Agree with much of the general sentiment here.

      However, you won’t have to change managers every 2 years if you hire well. Ask Liverpool.

      At the same time, you shouldn’t stick with a failing one in the name of stability. There are so many everyday workplace examples of the truth of this. A bad manager can actually leave you with more problems to fix.

      Im with Shard on the “culture” and “saviour” thing being a convenient trot out of nebulous provenance to neutralise criticism of on field failure. And I’ll repeat… part of the culture is management culture, and the current one isn’t good.

      BTW, good stuff from Shard and Greg. Love to see agreeable, thoughtful disagreement. I think the thing we share is a love of the club, and on game day, blessedly, are all in agreement about what we want. We just have different visions about its direction.

    2. Yeah, the idea that the front office decided to hire Arteta to fix the wage bill and bring in youth is completely unbelievable. This is the gang who gave a 3 year deal worth 20m a year to 30 year old Auba, the gang who gave a huge contract to over 30 Willian after it was evident his legs had fallen off, the crew who thought it a good idea to bring in that disaster David Luiz, and the guys who are now giving away 100k a week to Eddie Nketiah which will make him virtually unsellable.

      Mustafi and Kolasinac had great attitude and are well respected professionals. Kolasinac was just overpaid for a backup and Mustafi was never good enough and got worse as the years went by. There was nothing wrong with their attitude.

      1. I don’t think it’s unbelievable that when they inherited the team and they had just managed to win the FA Cup, that in the “euphoria” of the moment thought that maybe, just maybe, a versatile veteran like Willian and re-signing Auba would take them back into the top 4 and then the gravy train would start rolling in, they could afford the exorbitant contracts and the repair job would become easier because they could attract talent with the prospect of CL games. It was a mistake. They corrected it.

        David Luiz was brought in pre-Arteta/Edu, but yes they extended him for another year… because they had limited options at CB and we have seen that Arteta likes CBs that can make progressive passes, which for all of Luiz’s faults, he was good at. Once we got Ben White, Luiz was out.

        And both Luiz and Willian were Kia Joorabchian clients. Notice that we don’t get linked with his players anymore. I’m chalking that up to Edu learning who he can and can’t trust on the agent side.

        The 100k for Eddie is a rumor and I haven’t read anywhere that he’s signed. I personally think he had a Joe Willock run of good luck at the end of the season and that he’s not a top 6 team striker, even as a back-up, so I hope he goes elsewhere. That said, at 100k/week his total compensation for a 5 year contract would be about 25m, which might be close to what the market might want for a home-grown English striker that’s a U-23 national if we had to transfer him in. But for now, until I read it on the BBC, I’ll believe it when I see it.

        Just like the rumors about Alvaro Morata. If we sign him, I will go full anti-Arteta and Edu in a heartbeat, it would be a betrayal of the youth project from last summer. But again, I’ll believe it when I see it.

        1. re: Eddie. We really need to stop with the fantasy that “his total contract would be ok” with these bosman signings because they are untransferable. There’s a huge difference between buying a player for 15m and paying him 10m over 4 years and giving a player a guaranteed 25m contract. You just cannot sell players on huge wages because even the big clubs in Europe can no longer pay those wages for anyone other than the very top players. If we get two years into this contract and it’s not working out we will be right back to paying his contract off like we seem to do over and over again now. If he’s on reasonable wages you can sell him for cheap, get out from under his salary, and recoup at least some of the expense. These bosman deals are devastating to finances at a club like Arsenal.

          1. Two months ago the guy’s getting no minutes and is as good as gone. It smacks of knee jerk.

      2. The evidence suggests that they are just all bumbling around and don’t really know what they are doing. Just look at the number of missteps since 2016: giving Wenger a new deal, firing him a year later; huge deal for Ozil; whatever it was that we did with Alexis; spending all that time and money on Raul and his players; telling everyone we were going to hire Arteta (including Arteta himself) and then getting cold feet and bringing in Emery only to fire him 18 months later and hire the original guy; the whole stuff with the pay cuts and sackings; the Saliba thing; Guendouzi; David Luiz; Willian; Auba; paying way too much for Ben White when we didn’t need him; on and on and on.

        1. Trial and error.

          There are very very few clubs that don’t make mistakes and “bumble around”.

          Liverpool have something very special going on there with their manager and brain trust. They don’t make a lot of mistakes, although talk to a Liverpool fan and they’ll point to Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita as two recent mistakes. Let’s see how they replace Mane, Firmino and Origi this summer and how they address Henderson aging out in a year or two. Let’s see if they saddle themselves with a huge salary for Salah.

          City have built an amazing backroom staff but also have the money to address mistakes. Mendy for example. And they have an amazing manager.

          United are flopping around. There’s no guarantee ten Hag can do the job.

          Chelsea are flopping around. Who is going to play defense for them next year? They let half two out of three CBs leave on a free and are losing their captain at RB. Look at what they spent on Azpilicueta, a very mediocre keeper. Maybe Lukaku is a world-class striker, but if he can’t work with Tuchel then that’s a huge loss when they are forced to sell him back to Inter and then they’ll be looking for a striker all over again because we all can see Timo Werner is not getting it done.

          Spurs just admitted in the press that they might have to sell Bergwijn and Ndombele for less than what they paid for them and that they’re going to get more pragmatic on getting what they can for players they don’t want anymore.

          Everton. FFS

          West Ham about to lose Soucek because he’s feuding with Moyes and possibly Bowen who is being eyed up by Liverpool. How will they recover?

          I won’t even touch PSG or Barcelona. Real Madrid are still living off the fumes of gas they put in the tank 10 years ago with Benzema, Modric and Kroos.

          What I’m trying to argue is that Arsenal are no better or worse than off than 99% of the other teams out there in terms of the volume of mistakes that are being made. It’s not an exact science.

    1. Mattb
      Thanks for sharing that. With the way some Arsenal fans have been beating down expectations these days, I started asking if it’s the same Arsenal I started supporting years ago.

      I think the biggest problem with Arsenal is that the club lacks ambition. And funny enough, the Kroenkes have been able to lower most fans ambitions too.

      Imagine an Arsenal ‘fan’ who said other Arsenal fans should forget about competing for the top 4 for the foreseeable future because it’s not ‘easy’. This is the same guy that said I have an irrational hate of the manager because I said he’s not good enough for the club.

      Now, I understand we expect different performances from the manager. I want a manager that can win the league. And I don’t think Arteta can do that.

      On the other hand, some fans are okay with finishing outside top 4 forever. To them, Arteta can never be wrong.

      I’ve never seen a top club where you don’t have high pressure to perform. Bayern, Madrid, Liverpool, Man City, Barca, etc.

      Like Henry said, the minimum target for a club like Arsenal is top 4. And after outspending every club, Arsenal fans are criticizing an Arsenal legend for asking for top 4.

      1. What managers could Arsenal hire tomorrow that would “win the league” with Arsenal’s current resources?

        Go. Names.

        1. Well, a great manager won’t win the league immediately like Klopp didn’t at Liverpool. But by 2.5 years of Klopp at Liverpool, their fans believe he could do it.

          A manager that can win the league will, with Arsenal’s resources, make top 4 within 2.5 years. I mean Conte (as bad as some of you paint him), just moved Tottenham from 9th to 4th in less than 8 months.

          Arteta met us at a similar position 30 months ago and we’re still celebrating 5th. That’s after Arteta has his team. Every player playing regularly at Arsenal right now is a player Arteta bought or gave a new contract.

          Do you think Arteta can win the league in the next 10 years even with Liverpool’s resources? And if you’re asking me which manager will win the league for Arsenal, you’re asking the wrong person.

          Man City fans didn’t hire Guardiola. Liverpool fans didn’t hire Klopp. Someone at Arsenal is paid millions of pounds to find that manager.

          1. That’s a cop out.

            You’re bailing on suggesting names because the fact is there aren’t that many amazing, proven managers out there. We all watch football. Where are they?

            So what you’re advocating for is a Chelsea-style, bring the manager in, if he’s not getting the job done in a year or two, jettison him, bring in another guy, wash-rinse-repeat until you finally strike lightning. In the meantime each manager 1) gets paid out for time on his contracts and 2) ruins the squad by bringing in his players, leaving a Frankenstein monster of a roster. See – Manchester United.

            Klopp (who I love btw and have read two biographies on him), also benefitted from PSG cash – PSG sent 200m to Barca for Neymar who then turned around and sent 140m to Liverpool for Coutinho. 140m for Philippe Coutinho – possibly the worst transfer in history. He then (wisely) spent that money on Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson and Allison and the proceeds from deep CL runs is backstopping their finances.

            Do I think Arteta could win the league with Liverpool? Nope. Because that team was constructed for Klopp. Could Arteta win with City? I would say, yes.

          2. Olumide / Jack,

            A couple of thoughts on managers…

            Remember Guardiola’s first season at City? City lost 6, drew 9 and finished third 3 points ahead of Arsenal and 15 points behind Chelsea. Guardiola was labelled by many as a fraud who couldn’t cut it in the PL.

            Klopp joins Liverpool after his worst season at Dortmund. Even Liverpool fans were unsure at the time if he still had it or had burnt out.

            My point is the best find a way. They imprint their philosophy and processes and build the organisation around them. I think this is why many fans don’t trust Arteta. To Tim’s point earlier there’s been an enormous amount of flip-flopping and some seriously expensive wrong turns in the past 2.5 years.

            A final thought… where would you rank Arteta in a PL manager list based on the season? Did he achieve more with his resources than Howe, Frank, Moyes, Viera, Conte, Potter…..? Personally I think there’s easily half a dozen or more managers who did better.

          3. Yeah, cop out indeed that I didn’t list managers that can do a far better job than Arteta is doing. ‘There are no managers around’ is just a convenient excuse for an unserious club.

            Now, let me tell you some managers that have moved since Arteta got the Arsenal job.

            1. Tuchel came to Chelsea, took them from outside the champions league places into the champions league places. And won the champions league.

            2. Nagelsmann moved to Bayern Munich.

            3. Ancelloti moved to Madrid and won a league and Champions league double.

            4. Conte moved to Spurs and moved them from 9th to 4th.

            5. Ten Haag has just moved to Manchester United.

            But but but… There are no managers that can take us into top 4. Serious clubs always find a way.

  30. Tim,
    I think you’ve really done a great job with your blogs. Even though you don’t fancy the manager (I’m assuming that based on one of your blog posts), you’ve still mentioned the bright spots.

    The biggest issue I have with the manager is that I rarely enjoy Arsenal games. Statistics is good, but football is emotional and about what you see with your own eyes.

    When was the last time we really put a team to the sword? Even when we win, we have to defend a goal for 30 minutes or more.

    I think you’ve taken the right step. If all fans stop patronizing the business (because that’s how the Kroenkes see Arsenal), the Kroenkes will either do what’s necessary to make the team successful or sell up.

  31. ‘MIDE and JACK, I want Arsenal to present us the fans with a credible plan for getting into and being competitive in the Champions League. No bullshit, no spin. No moving of the goalposts. That is the club’s premier league heritage, and that is what Arsene Wenger built towards, sacrificing years with no transfer budget to speak of to get us into position. We are well into the timeline. Every well managed entry has targets. What are our targets, and when do we plan to get there?

    We know something of the internal target, because Willian let the cat out of the bag. He was projected to be going into his 3rd and final season under contract — 2022/23 — competing FOR the Champions League. Not IN the CL… for it. You can chuckle now, but they were serious. So they can spare us the nonsense, dispensed through their favorite access journalists, that we are “ahead of schedule” this season.

    Be bold. Be ambitious. Think big. In our hirings, and out firings, if need be. Don’t try to bamboozle us with bull.

    “It’s hard”, you say? No shit. Sporting competition is hard. That’s why coaches and players in elite sport get paid so well.

    Spurs came after us, and have comprehensively overtaken us. Why? Decisive ownership. You’re under contract and going nowhere, Harry Kane. You can sulk, but it won’t last forever. Nuno Espírito Santo? Sorry dude, half a season may seem brutally short, but we’re going to have to end this quickly if we’re to hit our targets. Conte doesn’t move mis-season, and Spurs are too lowly a club for him? You watch.

    We don’t want excuses, and hear 100 reasons why something can’t be done. We want you show us how and why it can.

    1. I suggest more of a Taoist approach, not just for Arsenal but for everyone.

      Identify your goals. Decide what things you’d need to do on a daily/weekly/monthly basis to achieve these goals. Then throw out the goals and focus on the process and let it take you where fate determines you’re supposed to end up.

      The process, if it was mapped out correctly, will take you to success only it might not be the exact goals you had identified. And it may not be on the same timeline. One can’t control for external influences that were unforeseen at the start of the process (Newcastle getting bought by Saudis, COVID lockdowns destroying finances, war in Ukraine forcing a rival’s sugar daddy to sell the club, etc.)

      Again, nobody has a 100% bullet-proof tried and proven plan to make a club elite other than Chelsea/City/PSG’s model to just use oligarch/oil money to buy the best players available year after year. As I pointed out up higher – even Liverpool fell into some amazing luck with the sale of Coutinho. Where would they be today without VVD? Scrapping for fourth, just like we saw last year.

      1. the fact that circumstances keep changing is exactly why you can’t forget the goal and focus on just the process. You cannot chart out every possible course of action beforehand.

        Focusing on the process sounds like you could easily forget what it’s really supposed to be about. Where completing tasks and overcoming obstacles ends up becoming the goal, the reward in itself, rather than getting where you want(ed) to go.

        It’s not fate. You change your destination by your commitment to staying on a pre-determined path, scaling obstacles you could have avoided, and in spite of all the signs telling you it is leading you astray.

      I’m in agreement with what you’re saying. How many Arsenal fans would have accepted our current league position 2.5 years ago?

      The most infuriating part of it is the excuses. I can’t believe an Arsenal fan will say Arsenal should forget top 4 for many years to come when we could have gotten it this year with a better manager.

      An Arsenal fan says Arsenal fans should forget top 4 because other clubs have tight operations.

      But when Tim said Arsenal is bumbling around, the same fan says every other top club is bumbling around.

      Which one is it? Talk about ‘bumbling around’ comments.

  32. Tim

    With regard to your comment on June 1 8:56AM. Our management was willing to pay wages for players who were producing. When Auba got his contract he was a golden boot level producer and the only legitimate goal scorer on our squad. They had to find a way to keep him. Willian had just finished a season where he was arguably the best creator in the league and he was on a free transfer and the team that was desperate for a player with creativity. Absolutely no one could have prospectively predicted how quickly he would crap out. Some believed Luiz was still arguably our best CB when they extended him for a year.

    Its easy for fans to criticize in retrospect but the club does not have a crystal ball that can tell the future and moves can only be judged fairly based on the information available at the time the decision is made. Prospectively there was logic to all 3 of those moves. In all 3 cases they moved on and dumped wages when it became clear those players were not producing.

    1. I criticized these deals in actual time, while also understanding the logic of the deals (I actually wrote about Willian at the time and about how I saw what they THOUGHT they were going to get).

      David Luiz was no where near worth the wages we paid for him and his acquisition set us back several years.

  33. When Arteta and Edu took over they had a squad which looked like it had lost the fire in its belly for Wenger and there were plenty of rumors the culture of the club was not where it needed to be. Most of us believe the squad had almost quit on Emery. Those are 2 highly experienced and relatively successful managers. If there was some question about the level of motivation with those managers then how would that same squad react to a new regime when it was very clear that a rebuilding project was needed and success was most likely at best a couple years away. Again we can criticize in retrospect but prospectively it very easy to understand and probably correct to believe that a culture in the dressing room and the club as a whole needed to be rebuilt.

  34. I don’t think we can reasonably blame Arteta for the losses in this years game 36 and 37 unless we believe every manager whose team could have won some big prize but missed out. Do we believe Man City would have won against Madrid in this years semifinals or Man City would have figured out a way to score a goal the CL final last year against Chelsea if they had a better manager. . I have never hear anyone say would Arsenal have won the league in 07/08 10/11 or 15/16 if they had a better manager.

    There is no way this year squad had the talent to match up against the 4 teams who finished ahead of us and blaming a manager for out performing expectation a taking the team as far as it did go seems unreasonable. We can’t judge a managers results by different criteria because we like one and don’t like the other.

    1. “I have never hear(d) anyone say would Arsenal have won the league in 07/08 10/11 or 15/16 if they had a better manager”.

      You must be new to the world wide web, Bill. Welcome 🙂

      It’s amusing to me that you dont think that Mikel is culpable for anything, not even his results. You simultaneously argue that Arsene is for his, though.

      And you said this earlier, regarding culture (long response loading):

      “there were plenty of rumors…”
      “most of us believe…”

      Your sourcing there is iffy, my bro. So is the argument. Arteta, when he was strongly urging Auba to re-sign, praised him as a model professional. James Benge, a journalist who covers Arsenal, said that he was good at mentoring the young players. Four of those players — Saka, Martinelli, Ramsdale and Nelson — have praised his influence. It probably wasnt in their interest to do so after his very public falling out with their boss, but they did anyway.

      See what I did there, Bill? I cited 3 sources… not some vague, made up stuff like “most of us believe.”

      Does anyone believe that Auba became irretrievably poisonous to culture in the dying months of 2021? I’ll tell you someone who doesnt… you. One comment up, you rationalised (correctly) Arteta’s re-signing of him. Unless (heaven forbid) you were trying to argue both ways.

      After his new deal in summer 2020, Auba played a full season, came through another summer TW in 2021, started another season. If culcha was a problem, dont re-sign him. But once you did, change captains next TW. The manager had 2 full summer TWs to get rid of the player or remove the armband. He did neither. In fact, his wife, Lorena Bernal Arteta, was deployed as part of the charm offensive directed at Auba to get him to re-sign. Some poisonous influence, that.

      Auba is who he always was… a good bloke with a dodgy taste in threads, an expensive taste in cars and a timekeeping problem; who nevertheless trained well, was a positive influence on the young players (who looked up to him), scored for fun when properly deployed, and missed some absolute sitters. Effortlessly muluilingual like his manager, he represented us well in the media and in the community. There was stuff to get mad about, sure (and Arteta once rage-subbed him from a game after a miss). Stuff to go nuclear on? Not even close. “Culture” is a crutch for failure, bad management and inconsistency.

      Tell you the culture that came into play when Auba’s misses multiplied… the management culture. Deep freeze, no way back, throw the player under the bus, and initiate a constructive dismissal. let’s get him out of his contract and save some money. False economy. He was on full Arsenal pay for the rest of this season, while giving Barcelona the goals that a better Arsenal manager would have coaxed out of him. He came close to breaking the midseason scoring record for La Liga. Yet we want to say, “poor Arteta, if only he had proper strikers”. Gimme a break.

      btw, Im getting recurrent vibes with the reported level of Nketiah’s pay deal. He’d better fire, because under this management it’s going to be the deep freeze and a constructive dismissal. On pay, ArtEdu don’t seem to have learned their lesson.

      1. This is pretty close to exactly how I saw things. I would only add that Arteta praised Auba in the press for the first 6 months of this season because Auba was tracking back and playing 90 minutes of defense. Arteta went so far as to say he didn’t care if Auba scored goals, just so long as he kept playing the way he was.

        1. Unless there was some big legit issue that wasn’t made public, it’s pretty hard for me to see the Auba thing as anything other than a management fail. Unlike Ozil, who hasn’t shown much since leaving, Auba can clearly still score. And even a few goals might have made the difference in us making CL, which would have more than made up for any monetary savings we got from his move to Barca.

      2. Seems to me the team played better once Auba was removed from the team.

        Causation or coincidence?

        If he was so popular and Arteta the two-faced jerk you describe, then wouldn’t we’d have seen the team down tools and perform poorly on the field?

        Just curious how you explain it.

        1. You’re right. They did play better without Auba…. for a while.

          And the young players seized their chance. And hey, Eddie finally showed that he had some prowess. When we were good, post Auba, we were drool-worthy good.

          But the league is a marathon, not a sprint. Things turn around. Laca was playing well without scoring, then he fell off a cliff… not playing well and not scoring. ESR was undroppable until he was. Saka could have games when he got marked out of the contest. Ode could go from great to relatively anonymous. Martinelli can go from sublime to being a bit wild. So you can play great in December — when a few on the fringe seize their chance — and go cold in February.

          A smart manager coaxes a turnaround out of a player who clearly had plenty left in the tank. Not go nuclear. All hands on deck.

          It’s funny how good players keep going elsewhere and exposing his poor judgement.

          btw, Laca to Lyon is official. Thanks for your service, old chap.

  35. I firmly believe that the success or lack of it depends almost entirely on the manager/coach.

    The club simply provides the money, if it is available for the manager to spend on players that he thinks will improve matters.

    Perhaps the owners have been interfering too much, making it clear that Arteta had to remove the big wages from the club. hence his war against the experienced players, to the team’s detriment.

    That sounds possible, but I do not believe that it is correct.

    My belief is that this shedding of experience has ben almost entirely Arteta as he has been unable to cope with players who. with much experience have refused to knuckle under to his micromanaged regime.

    One after the other has fallen foul of his ego and one after the other has been dropped, loaned out or sold to accommodate that ego.

    Instead we are filling our team with young inexperienced players who are unable to benefit from being in the proximity of and playing with players of a higher standard.

    The way that these new players have regressed is testament to the shortcomings in Arteta’s coaching ability and technique.

    More of the like players will come in and be preferred to the ones who have been mostly ignored until now.

    The new contracts for Elneny, who could not get even a substitute appearance until the last few games and Eddie, who managed a few substitutions but nothing more, are nothing but window dressing.

    They will be Oziled and Aubaed in due course, but with a fee coming in.

    The rosy future seen by many is, in my opinion the same mirage that we have witnessed for the last 3 years.

    And yes, I agree watching our team is a real test of patience and reliant on our being able to keep awake.

    I hope that I am wrong, but fear that I am not.

    1. War on experienced players?

      I’ve played on a lot of teams and watched this game long enough to have seen that when popular or veteran players clash with unpopular coaches, the coach ends up losing, almost 100% of the time. But only when the coach is clearly disliked by a majority of the players. I don’t think we have that here. Only this website seems to have people who dislike Arteta passionately.

      And Wenger didn’t exactly ease players out the door when they didn’t fit his plans. Bergkamp, Pires, Ljunberg, Lehman, Arshavin, Arteta, Mertesacker all got phased out, rather harshly in some circumstances. This is part of managing.

      And every manager has this issue. FFS, people mention Conte in glowing praise, talk about a guy who fights with star players and then has them shipped out for nothing… Mauro Icardi – out. Diego Costa – out. He called Eden Hazard lazy in a press conference.

      Does anyone talk to fans of other teams at all? I got news for you – a lot of fans of other PL teams are looking at Arsenal and admiring the younger talent, young coach and bright future. But go ahead and keep whining about Arteta being a little micromanaging dictator.

      1. “Does anyone talk to fans of other teams at all? I got news for you – a lot of fans of other PL teams are looking at Arsenal and admiring the younger talent, young coach and bright future’

        I want to hang out with those non-gooner football fans. From where I sit, the mockery over our collapse over the 5-game run in is pretty brutal.

        Jack, bless you. That’s what you want to believe, because you have strong faith in the club. It’s not the reality.

        EVERYBODY loves Saka, a bundle of skill who still looks like a 10 year old with pinchable cheeks. Emile to a lesser but not insignificant extent. Ode gets some pundit love. I promise you they’re not sitting there drooling, thinking what a great collection of young talent arsenal have there. You might want to cover your ears when they talk about Sambi, Nuno and Ben White. And you might want to leave the room completely when they talk about Arteta.

        I’m flabbergasted at your comparison of the way “Bergkamp, Pires, Ljunberg, Lehman, Arshavin, Arteta, Mertesacker” left Arsenal, with the foot in the backside treatment of Arteta’s exiles. Two of those on your list currently work for the club in senior roles, one used to, one takes part in training sessions, the others drop in often. You went a bit Kellyanne Conway on us there, mate 😉

        1. You are suffering from recency-bias. At the time, Bergkamp, Pires and Ljunberg were pretty bitter about how their time at Arsenal ended. Vieira has never made nice with Wenger. There are others. It’s a brutal business.

          But OK, you are 100% a player advocate. When these millionaire players get pushed out the door it’s backside treatment. Sorry, if I have no sympathy for Aubemayang and his 250k a week salary.

          And nope – nobody I know even talks about Sambi, Nuno, White or any of our players individually. They talk about the aggregate. And it’s mostly positive. Stop hanging around other cranks.

      2. Let’s talk about Arteta the player and the way the club treated him. He really wanted to come here in 2011 (after the infamous 8-2), and Arsenal hardballed him on salary. He had to take a cut from his Everton pay to get the deal over the line. We did a bit of a rough move on him there, to start.

        As a player it was a completely different story. He had a couple of very good seasons, then his legs clearly went. Arsene kept him on as club captain (essentially a non playing role on the bench), and Per skippered on the field. The other players called him the teacher’s pet, because he did impromptu coaching, and was in charge of the fines kitty for disciplinary breaches. He even shouted instructions from the sidelines alongside Wenger! He was very much a favoured player, even when he stopped getting into the starting XI.

        It is misleading to suggest that we toughed him out of the door. Far from it.

        Arsene effectively gave him an extra year of pay beyond the point at which most clubs would have cut him. When Per led us to the FA cup with Arteta pretty much bench-ridden, Arteta jointly lifted the trophy with him. This is what Mikel said, of Per’s gesture:

        “I didn’t want to do it but Per asked me to go up there with him. I thought it was his day and an opportunity for him to get that feeling that I had last year with the Community Shield. I’m really proud and really grateful. It’s a happy day and the best way to finish the season.”

        Arteta’s love for Arsenal is deep and genuine, and that’s because of how the club treated him as a player. His departure from the club was as warm and dignified as he could hope for.

        p.s. I loved him a lot as a player. And Mikel was, for me, our best penalty-taker after van Persie.

        1. For the record – Auba scored 13 goals in 26 games for Barca. Pretty good. But it was all early on. He faded at the end of the season. He was anonymous when Frankfurt knocked them out of the Europa. He only scored twice in Barca’s last 6 games, both against Celta Vigo, the 11th place team with nothing to play for. Sorry. As you say, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Let’s see how he’s doing middle of next season. I can practically guarantee you he’s not producing and, if Barca sign Lewandowski, he’ll be a sub.

          1. I welcome your thanks for the correction of what you mis-stated about the circumstances of Arteta’s departure from the club, Jack 🙂

            You seem oddly embittered towards Aubameyang. Why root for his failure and downplay his accomplishments? He wore the shirt of the club you say you support. Why wouldnt you do anything except wish him well?

            You and the Arsenal management seem a perfect match… a study in ingratitude.

            To your earlier comment on Bergkamp. Two (I think) 1-year extensions at the end. Mate, he was EXTENDED beyond his contract’s end. Not every player leaves a club happy asa lark, but you are mischaracterising the circumstances of the departure of these players. They were nothing like Aubameyang’s.

          2. I didn’t misstate anything. Arteta was benched his final season. I guess this is where we differ – for me, as a player, if I’m healthy I want to be on the field. Being benched is punishment, regardless of whether it’s justified or understandable because of failing legs, there’s nothing gentle about it. I would rather have been cut and play somewhere else. Not be kept as an insurance policy in case the first 4 midfielders go down.

            And yes, I love that you bring up how he was forced to take a salary cut because we jerked him around on transfer deadline day. So all the romanticists who long for the days of old when we treated players and staff so wonderfully, not the cold corporate Arsenal of today – check yourself. We screwed players in the past also.

            I’m not bitter about Aubemayang – I’m bitter over the relentless whining over his end days. The problem I have with the whole Auba saga is that you weren’t in the meetings between him and Arteta. You weren’t in the locker room. You haven’t talked to any of the players on the team. You, and all the others here that want to cry foul over how he was ejected from the team without any real knowledge of what happened, have no idea what the real story is. So you engage in mind-reading and projection and just assume it’s a one-sided affair, a dictatorial toxic manager who can’t manage strong or experience personalities and gets rid of them regardless of cost to the team. That’s how it’s being characterized and YOU. DO. NOT. KNOW. It’s just being a crank for the sake of being a crank.

            At this point, if Aubemayang has a poor season next year it will prove that he was fading and getting rid of him was the right thing to do. Is that selfish? Sure. But you’re hardly magnanimous in the way you assign the worst motivations to Arteta in the affair. So it goes both ways buddy.

          3. He lost his place in the starting XI, and then the rather excellent Cazorla and Coquelin solidified a partnership, Coq returning from loan in January 2015 a transformed player. It was like… BANG! An instant knit and fit with Santi.

            “Being benched is punishment?” Since when? Lacazette deserved to be dropped for Eddie in the run in. You earn your place, amigo. And you know what? Arteta didnt see it as punishment. He was smart enought to understand that other players had moved ahead of him, on merit. He was a model club captain, never moaned, never complained. It’s probably one of the reasons he likes Elneny. And he took it as an opportunity to soak up knowledge from Arsene.

            I mention the salary thing precisely because I dont believe that past Arsenal management acted like angels all the time. Yes, we messed Mikel around at the start, but we more than made up for it in the end, by paying him to essentially sit on the bench, and — wait for this — giving him a one-year extension when he had stopped being an automatic starter.

            Coach Arteta would have forced out player Arteta before his contract was up. Give him a new one? Unlikely, given what we’ve seen. And in the end, Mertesacker showed him — as playing captain — more grace and gratitude than he is managing to show senior players as manager. Oh the irony.

            All Im saying to you Jack is that you have your facts wrong about his departure and that of other players like Bergkamp.

            On Auba, there’s been a ton of insider reporting around the matter. In any case, but why would you want the player to fail, just to prove Arteta was right. Wish him well, brother. You’re better than that.

      3. “Only this website seems to have people who dislike Arteta passionately.”

        Some people are frustrated with the way that the culture at Arsenal has changed and have given you their reasons. This isn’t a unique thing on this site. I get that you like what’s happening at Arsenal and I can see your reasons why. Maybe you could try to see why other people are frustrated with Arsenal and especially Arteta?

        Either way, I haven’t seen much in terms of productive empathy from either side in this argument in this particular thread, instead I just see people becoming entrenched in their opinions and yelling at each other on the internet.

        To answer your questions about rival supporters, yes, I do talk to them, I’ve written about it on here, and they run the gamut from guys who think Arteta’s a joke and want him to stay at Arsenal to folks who like him and think he will be a top coach one day but none of them think that their club would have stuck with the manager through so much turmoil.

        The sky isn’t falling, no one here (none that I know of) wants Arteta fired. Some people are merely voicing their frustrations with the manager – the way that we have all done with all of the managers – and the way the club is doing things. I think that a lot of the criticisms of the club and manager are totally fair. Some, of course, aren’t.

        What I’m not a fan of is using that to demonize others and try to squash any dissent – which is what you’re doing here by saying “only this website”.

        I get that impulse, I really do having lived through the whole stupid AKB/WOB thing, but I think that all of the commentators on here are far from “Arteta out” and that there’s a huge difference with being frustrated (and even exasperated with why others don’t see it their way) and being a hater.

  36. Claude

    None of us know what was truly going on in the dressing room and we don’t know how individual players such as Ozil, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Auba, Guendouzi etc etcwere effecting the culture. However none of us can say with a straight face that there was not a problem with the culture at the club and still maintain any credibility. Arteta, Edu inherited a mess with the club on 4-5 downward trend that was picking up speed. A wage structure that was all wrong and an unbalanced squad with a lot of players past their prime on high wages. To top it all off for whatever reason the clubs culture had degenerated.

    1. if you don’t know what’s going on in the dressing room, how do you know that those players were affecting some “culture?”

      You know Bill, you must stop arguing against yourself so much. In this case, in a single sentence 🙂

      I’m not even going to bother to ask you to define this “culture”, because you never have, and probably can’t.

      What you can do, however, is read the various insider reports from reputable journos who cover Arsenal. The folks they quote run the club.

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