Analysis: Arsenal are on the tactical brink of…. Greatness or Disaster?

How do you win a game of football? Most coaches will tell you that there is really no specific way to play that 100% ensures winning. But most coaches will tell you that you will need to create chances if you want to win.

How many chances? Well, an average shot in a soccer game has a 0.10 chance of scoring. That’s 1 out of 10. To get 3 goals, you may need up to 30 attempts. But we have all watched football and seen that Ibrahimovic goal against England. That was one shot, one goal. And that leads us to the fact that not all chances are created equal. Remember Yakubu Ayegbeni’s miss against South Korea at the 2014 World Cup? If you had ten of that in a single game you will probably score ten times. But those kind of quality chances are difficult to make in football and rare enough. That’s exactly why the average shot only has a 1 in 10 chance of going in. Sensibly then, to win a game of football, the best bet is to be able to create lots of chances.

That leads us right to Arsenal, Arteta, Mourinho, Tottenham and all the conundrum of a promising young manager who is struggling to lift a club out of the gruel of midtable obscurity. Arteta is a student of Pep Guardiola, a legendary manager who hacked the formula for winning a 38-game competition season after season. Guardiola’s system is underpinned by possessing the ball, and passing to move the opponent around so you can have space for a shot on goal. In his words, the ball moves faster than anyone. Manipulating the ball is manipulating the opposition. His system is designed to create lots of chances. Basically, a factory of shots. If you can produce 1000 shots a season, the law of averages says you should have about 100 goals. That is ultimately more than enough to win a 38-game league.

But there is a catch: playing that kind of football requires quality at every position. And not just traditional quality either. You will need your defenders to not just be good at defending but also at passing. Your goalkeeper need not only to be good at palming the ball away from the net but also quick to come out and play like a defender for an instant. That kind of quality, needless to say, is not easy to come by even at the best soccer clubs.

In modern European football, all of the clubs that have the greatest chance of winning 38-game leagues play to produce as many chances as possible. They have all copied the Guardiola philosophy. There is simply little chance at winning the league when your direct rival is scoring 100 goals regularly across the season all the time and you are not, as Real Madrid 2008-2015 found out. If your aim is to win a top European league at some point, there is no way around it, you’ve got to play as a chance factory.

There is another catch, though. Playing that way requires you to be expansive on the field. You can’t play defensively with 10 behind the ball and expect to be creating chances at factory speed. Everyone attacks with 5 players nowadays, usually with some variation of 2-3-5 or 3-2-5 on the ball. And that is where another legendary manager, José Mourinho, comes in.

Mourinho does not follow the Pep method of having the ball all of the time so that you can constantly create with it. Mourinho thinks that the team that has the ball is the one more likely to make a mistake with it. Then because you have come forward to try to score, he can capitalize on the space that is behind you. The Mourinho philosophy is traditional. Most teams simply don’t have the quality to be able to create chances against 11 men too many times. They don’t want the ball and when they have it they can just get in behind. This philosophy works because while the average shot in soccer is very unlikely to result in a goal, if those shots are produced by running in behind a defense with nobody between you and the goalkeeper, they will tend to be of greater quality than the average. You don’t need 10 shots to score a goal, you just need less defenders between you and the opponent goalkeeper when you take the shot.

The catch is that you actually need less precision to score a goal against 2 men behind the ball than against 10 men behind the ball. Since it is easier to score a goal with Mourinho’s philosophy, you don’t need as much quality players. Of course, quality players are great for everyone but if you are only interested in scoring a goal the Mourinho way, you can live with not having Lionel Messi.
Well, since it is easier to score a goal the Mourinho way than the Guardiola way, why doesn’t everyone play like that? Because most clubs do not have the quality of players needed to play the Guardiola way to a high level, they resort to throwing 10 men behind the ball, so there is no space for a Mourinho system to work. In your average league, except for the financial monster that is the Premier League, only an average of 4 clubs are dedicated to the Guardiola way. Most of your matches will be against Mourinho types and the Mourinho way becomes drastically less effective (how else do they score? Set-pieces?). This is why most shots in soccer are poor in quality.

So, ultimately, in your average league, if you can get the required players, it makes obvious sense to play the Guardiola way. Which leads us all the way to Mikel Arteta, the protégé of Pep Guardiola, managing Arsenal, a club that has insufficient quality required to play the Guardiola way in the Premier League.

Arteta is painfully aware of both the fact that the Guardiola way is best, and the fact that the squad he has is not good enough to play the Guardiola way. Which explains why he has changed his approach four times since his appointment. First, the Guardiola way. Then after a loss to Olympiakos, the Mourinho way to great success. He returned back to the Guardiola way for a few games after getting two quality players in the transfer window until games against two of the best Guardiola teams in the league. Then after unsuccessfully playing the Mourinho way against those teams, back to the Guardiola way till date. All the while, Arsenal have amassed a measly 13 points from 11 games (which is equivalent to a point per match), rank near bottom of the league in chance creation numbers, have made the most crosses in a singular game, and largely completed most of their passes. All together, they have not looked much like Mourinho or Guardiola team. They look like the worst of both worlds. Which leads to the question: is Arteta a good coach?

Of what? A Mourinho team? Well, he has coached that to great success. A Guardiola team? Well, not much, but he is a direct Guardiola protégé and his team has shown very promising flashes of the Guardiola way. The sensible conclusion is that Arsenal lack consistency, in style and substance. How do you improve consistency? Well, by sticking to your guns. But I joke. Consistency is best ensured by quality. Pep Guardiola’s teams lose and Mourinho’s teams lose but they are consistent at what they do. Arsenal lost the North London Derby in two moments, one from a goal produced from a location that should not have been a goal, and one from when they had their best player of the game, who happens to be a defensively oriented midfielder, hobble off the pitch just as Tottenham were counterattacking.

But seeing as Arsenal do not have the quality to effectively play Guardiola’s football and it seems as though their manager is going to stick to his guns this time, how can they improve their effectiveness in the short term before they can get more quality into the club?

That leads us right to another legendary manager in the making: Jurgen Klopp. Jurgen Klopp can be seen as a subscriber to both the Guardiola and Mourinho system of football. His team can stay behind the ball and hit space effectively; they can also hold the ball and conjure out shots from possession. How does he manage to be able to do both? By coaching some of the best pressuring football ever seen.

Klopp’s teams, whether they hold the ball or are behind it, are pressing monsters. His players hunt for the ball with speed, strength, hunger and structure. Whenever the other team has the ball, to Jurgen Klopp, they are like a Guardiola team and are vulnerable to leaving space in behind. Another catch of pressing is that it helps you to sustain your attacking pressure. Sustaining attacking pressure simply means constantly creating chances after chances around the opposition penalty box for an extended period of time. This is really difficult to do. Since most chances won’t end in a goal, your opponent will get the ball after you have failed to put it in the net. That means you don’t have the ball anymore and can’t create another chance almost immediately. But if you are good at pressing, your opponent will quickly lose the ball to you and you can then create another chance. Simple, isn’t it?

No wonder why the best attacking teams are always the best at pressing. You can’t be too effective in the Guardiola way without pressing effectively and maintaining that pressure on the opposition goal. What Jurgen Klopp has discovered is that pressing is the best playmaker in football. In his own words, if the opponent are moving the ball and you can get it back, they are usually not defensively well structured in that moment and you can therefore exploit the open space to score.
This is where Klopp is different from Pep Guardiola. Since goals are the most important thing in football and pressing can create goalscoring opportunities, a won tackle/interception is a chance to score and must be treated as such. Pep Guardiola sees it a little differently. Since he has an attacking structure that can create chances like a factory can produce candies, a won ball is to be put back in the machine (not immediately as a direct attempt) and the factory carries on. Klopp has built a team with pressing as a primary objective while Pep has built a team with attacking structure (his factory) as the primary objective and pressing as the secondary.

Pressing is physical and mental. To press effectively, you need players who are physically great (strong, fast, plenty of stamina) and mentally motivated. This explains Liverpool’s high-achieving midfield. All of Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Milner, Henderson, Chamberlain, with the plausible exception of Keita, are physical monsters. Even Keita was used to pressing at RB Leipzig. And so, now, is Thiago at Bayern and Barcelona.

Klopp was so good at pressing and scoring goals that teams started to play Mourinho style against his team. They didn’t want the ball no more because Mou’s truism came true: the team that has the ball is more likely to make a mistake. Klopp had to play more and more like Guardiola, which required more quality, but he had bought the time to get in that quality by pressing hard even when he did not have so much quality.

One thing that Arteta can and must improve at Arsenal is the quality of the pressing. Can he coach that? Well, against Liverpool and Manchester United, he has shown that he can. But since pressing, like anything in football, requires quality — athletic quality — which Arsenal do not have in abundance, perhaps the inexperienced Spaniard is afraid. However, pressing does not require that much quality and smaller clubs (who, admittedly, might have more athletic quality) have been able to employ pressing to effective results. Southampton are a great example of Klopp’s truism: they create most of their chances from pressing. And they have more goals than Arsenal.

Can Arteta coach a good press? Clearly he can. And this is why the Spaniard is an extremely promising coach. His stated preference for athletic beasts in midfield and obvious preference for creating through wide areas has ensured that a prime Arteta team will look more like Klopp’s than Guardiola’s. And when you consider that Klopp’s Liverpool are one of the most complete teams in history, Arteta’s potential is more promising than most.

LAST WORDS
Against Tottenham, Arsenal largely dominated the ball and found entry into the penalty box several times. A possession count of 76-24 is indicative of where Arteta wants this team to go. In the first half, Tottenham found unexpected joy in transition. In the second half, they had no joy with only one more attempt. Arteta successfully neutralized the counterattacking threat but you may put that down as Mourinho’s management to an extent. The point though is that Arsenal were unlucky to have conceded and unlucky to not have scored. Ignoring the passes that went into the penalty box without an attempt on it, Arsenal generated more expected goals than Tottenham but lost two nil. That is what you get when you play against the most efficient shooter in the league + the most efficient passer in the league + the best striker in the league rolled into one.

Arsenal are on the brink with Arteta. They are poised for something unimaginably great or something unimaginably bad. It is 11 games in and they are 5 points off the top 6. Their billionaire owner has begun to gradually flex his purse with the acquisition of Thomas Partey. It is widely reported that Arteta wants another central defender, two midfielders, and a new striker. The January transfer window is close by. Arsenal are looking to go somewhere. Where will it be?

Agboola Israel

Tags Arteta Guardiola Klopp Mourinho

57 Comments

  1. GunneRay says:

    Basically, strip out around 80% of the goodness of City and Liverpool then and you have Arsenal!

    Arsenal don’t:

    1. pass well
    2. press well
    3. close down well
    4. oppose with speed
    5. defend well
    6. move off the ball well
    7. dominate midfield
    8. create chances
    9. communicate well
    10. learn from mistakes

    Arsenal do:

    1. have a lot of possession
    2. play out from the back better
    3. time to turn things round

    Oh, that’s about it for positives 🙁

    The truth is, there is so much wrong it’s almost impossible to be true. I’m sure it’s more mental than anything but one thing is for sure, this team needs to work harder in every aspect. Maybe they just don’t buy into what MA is doing and have already switched off? If that is the case, MA has a battle. Maybe they (we) need to trust in him for now and at least give him until the end of January?

    1. jon fox says:

      Your final sentence is the most laughable comment I have read for ages. How on Earth can allowing him til only the end of Jan be giving him any proper time at all? That is a nonsense!
      Time means at least two full seasons from when he came.

      And to me, though seemingly few others , PROPER TIME would be a full year after he was able to have entirely his own chosen players throughout the squad, which will take far longer. If only more fans had ANY REAL PATIENCE AT ALL!

      1. Krish says:

        and you are the most laughable commenter i have seen for ages

        1. jon fox says:

          But you have not the ability to say why I notice!
          MERE ABUSE, WITHOUT EVEN AN ATTEMPT TO EXPLAIN YOUR OWN POSITION IS A MASSIVE COP OUT AND COWARDLY INTO THE BARGAIN.
          If you have an argument then have the guts and education to state it and spell it out, Otherwise, you will be scorned as a junior and not a worthy verbal opponent to debate with. Food for thought I hope !

          You will note my own post contained my own opinions and why. Try it sometime! I only wish to debate on equal terms so try to prove yourself worthy and I WILL THEN RESPECT YOU.

          1. weeble says:

            Don’t sweat it Jon. For what its worth I agree with your post would ask all of these naysayers to go take a chill pill.

      2. GunneRay says:

        jon, based on public knowledge of the increasing odds of MA being sacked soon, I would at least prefer for everyone to give him a little breathing space to “try” to get things back on track. Which, is more than many of the fans are willing to give. Giving him until the end of January would at least give time to get as many points from 12 EPL games. That is 36 points up for grabs. I’m not saying sack him in January, am I? I am saying he should have that time to prove he can turn things round without the pressure from the fans, media and the clubs owner! After January, and If we are still lingering low in the table, I find it hard to see how he can be safe from the inevitable. After all, this is modern day football where managers have to perform to a level that each club requires. Arsenal are no different to Chelsea, Manure, City or Liverpool etc. That is not so laughable is it?

        1. jon fox says:

          GunneRay I appreciate you coming back to answer my comment I am afraid I do thjink it unfair- laughable was perhaps too strong but laughably unfair, if that is any nicer, would be how i call it. He has been her not a full year til Christmas and won two trophies He has had a bad Prem run, we al l see that and the team is misfiring. He has IMO also made selection and tacticl mistakes but i look at thefar wider picture and hac the patience that anolde fan could be expected to have I see steel in him I slo s he is feeling his way with thhuge and long term ongoing handicap of Kroenke. Some claim that Kroenke has backed us but I FIRMLY DO NOT AGREE. HE HAS NOT SPENT A SINGLE PENNY/ or dime, as thats more appropriate for someone living as owner of a British, world famous club on a different continent thousands of miles away. THAT IS NOT THE WAY SOMEONE WHO LOVES AND CARES FOR THEIR CLUB BEHAVES.
          But we all know he does not care and he is the PRIME problem and will remain so until someone who cares can buy him out.

          I pray for DANGOTE AS HE IS RICHER BY TWICE PLUS, THAN KROENKE AND HE IS A REAL FAN.

          1. jon fox says:

            I should have made it clear “not a single penny of his OWN money”. He covered the stadium debt I realise but that is repayable to him. He sees us only as a long term investment and that is a massive problem for whoever manages us as our main rivals spend owners money, Chelsea, City, Liverpool and also lesser clubs too like Wolves.

            WE NEED HIM OUT GunneRAY AND YOU KNOW THATS TRUE, AS WELL AS ANYONE DOES.

  2. Sean Williams says:

    We are playing Pep clone football. Pep’s football and Pep’s characteristics is not Arsenals’s way and Arteta is trying to fake Pep. We end up with “Fake Football”. Arteta is like a drowning man who wants to swim but can’t. He was a number two to Pep and absorbed a lot……of Pep. Now Arteta micro-manages to a degree that there is not one player left using their natural talents. It’s all ‘controlled’ by Arteta. No smiles, no dance, no creativity…..just unhappy panic. I supported Arteta when he came but it’s clear he has obsessive micro-management methods which are confusing the team more than even Emery did. We need a highly experienced big time manager. The key word is EXPERIENCED.

    1. GunneRay says:

      I’m sorry, Sean, but when Bellerin throws more foul throws (in just a few games) than you are likely to see in the whole season with every team combined then you cannot blame MA for that. If the team does not have the intelligence and awareness of an impending counter attack from the opposition over and over and over gain, is MA to blame for that? Can you blame the manager for losing the ball so often and conceding silly goals? You can’t blame MA for the problems that have lingered for years. It was happening under Wenger and every manage since.. I pretend to know what the issue is, but it has to be fixed soon. Sacking another manager is not the fix.

      1. GunneRay says:

        I meant “I DON’T pretend to know”, sorry! 🙂

      2. Krish says:

        of course its the fault of arteta.. that was an idiotic tactic against tottenham.. arteta makes the team park the bus against sooo many of the lesser teams and then decides to dominate and play with a high line against mourinho, kane and son of all things.. how stupid is that tactic against them?

        1. Winston says:

          Not saying that Arteta is not at fault. Just want to put things in perspective about the apparent tactical masterpiece by Mourinho.

          Have you ever wondered if Son didn’t bend his shot so well and if Partey was able to track back for Kane, what would Mourinho have to show for? Parking an awesome bus against a struggling Arsenal team that was there for the taking?

          Got to give it to them for defending resolutely, but apart from that, they won the game more because of exceptional finishing than because of shrewd tactics.

          On a different day, Son’s shot could have gone over or been saved. Kane’s shot could have hit Leno instead of the roof of the net. That would have been a very different post match analysis

          1. GunneRay says:

            Add to that, If Partey goes to the ground with an injury, the spuds don’t get a chance to score. MA was trying to tell Partey that he needed to go down injured. It was unprofessional of Partey to walk of the pitch during play.

          2. Winston says:

            Don’t think Arteta was urging him to go down because it’s in the rules now that referees don’t stop play, unless it’s a head injury or severe injury like a broken leg.

            A highly professional player in that situation would probably stay on to commit a professional foul by pulling down the Spurs player closest to him to avoid being outnumbered

          3. GunneRay says:

            True, Winston. Either way, Partey should never have left the pitch!

          4. Winston says:

            Precisely GunneRay. Hope he learns something from that

          5. Ayan says:

            The only thing I have to say………where is Mesut Ozil……he is a world class player…..Arsenal desperately need world class players.

      3. Sean Williams says:

        GunneRay
        But Arteta is the manager. He should direct and motivate, give room for expression…..that’s his job description. If he is not up for it, it doesn’t matter how enthusiastic or intelligent he is, he will not get Arsenal out of the hole. It’s like an orchestra…if the conductor is not able to direct….then very poor music. Arsenal play….very poor football. Sorry GunneRay…..Arteta’s job is to direct the team and they have NO direction. He’s now, at this moment, the wrong man for the job. I did support him but he has got it wrong.

        1. GunneRay says:

          Does he really need to motivate a player to kick or throw a ball properly? That is just poor. The problem is, If MA was to bench every player for under performing, There would be half a team on the pitch. Period!

          1. Mark says:

            Its obvious that you have never played a sport before or you would understand how confidence and motivation works..In a nutshell, if a players confidence is low, his first touch can be bad, his vision diminished, his passing ability compromised and more.. As for Bellerin, why is he still allowed to take throws? a professional footballer cannot throw??this makes no sense. There must be a fundamental problem there.. Part of a coaches job is to get to the bottom of issues like this and have them corrected or indicate in no uncertain terms to the player that be cannot be throwing…. Nelson takes corners to that never clears the first man….Why???

          2. GunneRay says:

            Willian’s first touch has been poor since day one, Mark. Did he start his Arsenal career with low confidence? He’s a “professional” isn’t he? It’s not just Willian. All over the pitch there are errors. We are first to nothing and second to everything. Again, that is a lack of energy and commitment to press and get the ball. There is no passion. These guys are pampered and need a boot up the arse. Fergie would never have let them get away with it!

            As for Bellerin. He has always taken the throw. Only, now he he seems to have dropped in concentration. Not confidence. But, like you, I would like to know why too. Although, I did notice that his hand was bandaged the other day. Maybe that has something to do with it?

    2. Trudeau says:

      Interesting article and I agree with others that option number one should be that Arteta stamps his own style and the players execute. It felt like that was starting to happen during the Cup run but has clearly gone off the rails. I don’t doubt that he can do it but do doubt whether he will be given the time at Arsenal. I hope I’m wrong about the latter.

      In terms of Pep-ball vs Jose-ball vs Klopp-ball, it seems to me that with the pieces we have right now, we are most capable of playing a poor man’s version of Klopp-ball. Then Jose-ball and lastly (by quite a margin) Pep-ball. But like many have said, if he is going to have lasting success here or anywhere, Arteta needs to settle on Arteta-ball.

    3. gothniel says:

      I support this.
      MA needs to let the players enjoy their game. It’s from Auba’s body language that he is not enjoying his game.

  3. Herbz says:

    We’re surely on the brink of a disaster!!!

    Ok. Since the beginning of the season, I’ve never trusted Arteta any one bit. But I didn’t know that he was so TACTICALLY NAÏVE to this extent!!!!

    1. How are Bellerin and Xhaka still starting games????

    2. In a back-3,,, Cedric and/or Mustafi are more suited to this formation than Tierney.
    At one point Tierney was in the opposition box —- even higher than Saka…. Can you imagine????

    3. Saka in the wing-back role is just laughable!!!
    Saka CANNOT defend. Please you should borrow a leaf out of other managers that have played wingers in this “wingback” role. Examples; Moses, Cuadrado, etc.
    They are all great dribblers, and they’re so direct in moving the ball forward on their own without needless turns, passes etc and can DEFEND!!!. Does Saka have this?????
    IWOBI is even more closely suited to this role than this Saka.

    4. The Lacazette – Aubameyang combination will NEVER WORK; No matter how many times people want it to work.
    The modern game requires more midfielders and most certainly Arsenal just doesn’t have that luxury to be fielding TWO forwards with the BLUNT midfield we have.

    Good day all.

    1. Joe. S says:

      Spot on with all four points Herbz, although the mere mention of Cedric / Mustafi back in the team only confirms Arsenal’s mediocrity. Tierney is a wing back and should remain one. It’s also true that the back three formation is cowardly and has never really worked. Two strong defensive midfielders balanced with Ozil and Ceballos would be much more effective. Score three let in one, no problems with that. Bellerin has peaked. He looked good three years ago when Ozils passes would create an over lap for him which he could exploit with his speed. But even then his final pass was more often than not wasted. I often wondered what would happen to him once he lost his speed advantage and now we know. Regarding Xhaka words are a waste but I’m sure he will start against Burnley. Moving forward, either one of Laca or Auba has to start from the bench, while Saka, Pepe and Nelson should be given opportunities to prove their potential.

  4. Mohsan says:

    Here we go another excuse for Arteta, has Arteta hit a proven track record to suggest all blame lies with players. He can not play pep and klopp way bec he does not have the players n then he can not play Morinhio way bec he does not have the players for that either…hahahaha..what an excuse. He has played no way near anyone of them or tried to. We hired me bec we thought he would be Pep in disguise but got cheated bec he turned out to be Moyes in disguise. When I see Arsenal play now a days I see so much the way Everton used to play under David Moyes bar felleni days. We have a good enough squad to play close enough style to both klopps team or peps team if Arteta can not make right team selection, right tactics or right buys in summer then it’s his fault no one else’s. This theory that Arteta is bound for greatness is so funny n make arsenal fans giggle forget about another fans making mockery of us.

  5. Krish says:

    Analyzing is a good thing but in the medicine there is a phrase which is famous:

    “if you hear hoofbeats think horses not zebras”
    that means common is common, rare is rare

    well when a team which is capable to finish in the top 6 (top 8 easily) and should be fighting for a top 4 is in the 15. place with -4 GD there is indeed the possibility that just one thing is not clicking and they are on the brink of exploding into a super fascinating wonderful team
    BUT
    the more likely outcome is that the team is just not playing good because the tactics are not working etc. and that the manager is either not compatible with the team or that the manager is not as good yet

    so i dont get the argument of giving him time.. he is not delivering and that for a while now, so decision have to be made fast to get somebody which can do better.. and if that guy doesnt do better in a year then again one has to look further.. thats the way of the more successful teams and i thought we wanted to give up on sentiments after wenger?

    1. Sean Williams says:

      Krish
      Wisdom and symbolism. In agreement with you.

  6. Nick says:

    ‘First, the Guardiola way. Then after a loss to Olympiakos, the Mourinho way to great success.’

    I presume that you are talking about Arteta having ‘great success’. Really? If the FA cup (don’t even try to say that the Community Shield is a ‘trophy’!) is ‘great success’, then why the whinging that Wenger must go when he had won 3 in 4 years? The last of which was in 2017, yet that didn’t stop the ‘Wenger out’ mob because the team was ‘shite’.

    I think the Arteta fans are forever moving the goalposts in defence of their man. 15th in the league, after 11 games, 6 defeats, and yet he is still being defended as some sort of a great manager in waiting. ‘He won us the cup’, ‘it is not him, it is the players’, ‘It is all Wenger’s fault, he should have left earlier’

    1. Krish says:

      For the life of me i will never understand how it’s even a discussion now, you are 100% right..
      how can one defend arteta and claim that he is absolutely blameless? thats just beyond stupid..

      1. ken1945 says:

        First of all, an excellent article, one of the best I have read for a long time and I urge everyone to read it through to the last sentence.

        NICK, another realist who I agree with completely – not only have the goalposts been moved, they have disappeared!!!
        Players out of position – players being selected for name, rather than form – defensive frailties – players allowed to run their contracts down – three year contracts for players over 30 – players not giving 100% because they do not defend/attack/ support midfield…the list goes on!!!
        Of course, the biggest laugh is how we have, seemingly, won two “trophies” under MA, but was told that the seven won by AW were just friendly season openers!!!!!!!

        We have never had a run of home defeats like this in over three decades (I believe), nor spent more money on players in two season, buying said players and then not playing some of them…Saliba is a complete mystery to everyone.

        Also, this claim about giving him time to buy his own players…Willian, Partey, Gabriel, Soares, Mari AND talking Xhaka out of leaving for a reported £35,000,0000, just for starters.
        UE didn’t have these players, when he took us to a europa final and fifth in the league in his first season, yet these and the others he inherited are players are not good enough for MA to have?

        Ma has players like Leno, Gabriel, Tierney, Aubameyang, Saka, Martinelli, AMN just for for starters, yet here we are 7 points from a relegation place.

        I accept that he needs more time and, for me, he has to be given until the end of the season…UNLESS…our league position worsens.

        But the more fans keep trying to bend or change the way that Unai Emery and Arsene Wenger were judged in order to support Mikel Arteta’s current situation, the more we are burying our heads in the sand.

        It doesn’t matter if it’s twenty years or two years either.
        We never discussed relegation until UE and MA took charge and that’s the problem – time doesn’t wait for any man/woman.

        1. siamois says:

          👏👏👏

  7. GunneRay says:

    So many fans seem happy just to fire another manager in “hope” of getting instant results. It’s just not that easy. Even Klopp and Pep needed time to get things moving. I don’t see the tactics failing. I see the quality failing. Willian’s first touch is awful. Xhaka’s vision is awful. Bellerin’s (well everything is awful there), Holding, Mustafi, Luiz, Kolasinac, Pepe. All great players on paper, just not putting the effort in! I see most of these players getting a great wage for doing little. If these players were payed on performance you would see much better. At the moment they need to pay the club back!!!

    1. Eche says:

      Pep and Klopp were given time to succeed because they have pedigree and and clear cut tactical plan. Arteta has neither of the above mentioned.

      1. GunneRay says:

        If every manager was measured on his previous success alone, there wouldn’t be “great managers”. Just because it’s MA’s first managerial role doesn’t mean he should be regarded any less does it? Has he been given a fair opportunity to show what he can really do? Or are we just too hasty to judge him condemn him to the exit? MA has what he has provided by those that went before him.

        1. Sean Williams says:

          GunneRay

          GunneRay

          We need to let go….of Arteta. It’s going to happen soon, inevitable. We all wanted him to succeed but he is TOO inexperienced. He has nothing else to fall back on than what he did with Pep. That’s it! He is, we are, snookered. Let him go NOW before we end up going round and round in blind circles. Allegri, Potch….they will do better than Arteta, who is ‘Lost’.

  8. jon fox says:

    A very in depth and well put together article which I much enjoyed reading. But though it contained much sound sense, it also said very little that is not already known and could be already taken as read.

    I learned nothing new from it, even though as a writer, I appreciate it’s attempts to make many points and it DID make many points , but just not anything not already widely known by most of us. But I stress it was several cuts above most articles on here, nevertheless.

  9. Shakir says:

    its amzing to see how good klopps players technique is.Mane and Salah’s dribbles ,inch perfect long balls,firminos link up play,Van dijks positioning,arnolds and robertsons crosses, the players clever runs…we see them as a team that just works hard,nope.For me i believe technique is way important than just hard work or a press.Liverpool has it all,if its a press or just hard working i think many teams would be successful.Must also mention that wengers philosophy was supeeb best in terms of attacking football.Wenger ball is second to none.

    As for MA ,i believe he can be a great coach but i cant find out why our team suddenly were on a lose streak.I still believe he should be given more time.

    You raise some good points and the article is well written.Noice 👏

  10. Winston says:

    It’s not easier to score a goal the Mourinho way. His way requires top forwards who are on top form. How many teams have forwards who can consistently convert half chances like that?

    His style of play against top sides is simply not to lose and play for draw. His only hope of winning is if his forwards are clinical on the day. Otherwise, he’s happy to continue parking the bus and frustrate his opponents to a draw.

    Did Arteta returned back to the Guardiola way for a few games after getting two quality players in the transfer window? I certainly didn’t notice any coordinated high pressing when lose the ball in attack, so where’s the Guardiola way? Seems more like Wenger’s way of letting them come at us when we lose the ball and our defenders will eventually stop their attack near our box. Honestly, I have not seen what the writer claimed to be “very promising flashes of the Guardiola way”.

    I do agree with the writer about his analysis on Klopp’s system and pressing, except that you don’t need physical monsters to be great at pressing. Wijnaldum was not a physical monster at Newcastle, Henderson wasn’t exceptionally strong and fast. In fact, he was a frequent scapegoat, especially before Klopp took over.

    Come to think of another great pressing team like Leeds, I don’t think they are a bunch of physical monsters. I also don’t recall Bielsa signing a lot of new players since he took over a Leeds team that finished in the bottom half of the Championship.

    One common trait of Guardiola, Klopp and Bielsa is that somehow the players they inherited started running more and having better stamina after they took over. Are they privy to some steroid-like magical potion or unique training method to improve stamina? That’s what I’m really interested to know

  11. Armoury says:

    It doesn’t matter how much you try to protect Arteta because the guy doesn’t have what it take to lead an EPL team. He’s trying to copy the type of management that Pep used, but it’s not in him. The honeymoon is long over for Arteta. He should go learn his trade in the lower leagues. There’s no time for experiments

  12. Armoury says:

    We are currently not looking at the top of the table but rather at the bottom. We now concerned about how the bottom 6 teams are performing. We are in the brink of disaster

  13. Onyango says:

    Sometimes I feel like some Arsenal fans are projecting what they want to see rather than what they reality may be. These fans think/thought Arteta would “copy and paste” what Pep did not considering Arteta is his own man and may not necessarily be keen on implementing everything Pep did. All coaches including Pep were understudies at some point and should not be expected to copy everything from whomever they were learning from. That would be boring and not much different from plagiarism in the world of writing.
    It is also important to note that Arteta’s understanding of the game didn’t start and end with Pep. He’s obviously developed his ideas from the very first day he joined the La Masia Academy and has had numerous influences from other coaches and managers like Moyes and Wenger.
    Instead of us expecting Arteta to implement the philosophy of this or that coach, we should expect Arteta to develop his own ideas. In my opinion most great managers became great because they had their preferred philosophies with which they persisted. Let’s hope we shall have “Arteta ball ” and not some romanticized variation of Pep football. We don’t have to play Pep football to be successful. Cheers!

    1. GunneRay says:

      👍👍👍

    2. Winston says:

      Well said Onyango.

      Guardiola regarded Bielsa as his mentor. Pochettino was an understudy of Bielsa. Yet both of them adopted systems that were influenced by, but not the same as Bielsa’s.

      While assumptions are a football fan’s best friend, let’s not simply assume that Arteta is out to replicate Guardiola

  14. Kenny says:

    Long comment short. Even Arsene at his last worst season also never lose so many matches at HOME to lesser teams.

    THIS IS THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENT FOR A PROPER, DECENT MANAGER.

    If you can’t win against LESSER TEAM, it prove that YOU ARE SHIT!!! PERIOD!!!

    1. GunneRay says:

      Even City and Liverpool have lost against so called “lesser teams”. But that is the beauty of the EPL. Every team can have a great day. Does that mean that Pep or Klopp are s**t, as you put it? They are human like the rest of us, Kenny and di deserve some respect.

      1. Kenny says:

        How frequent does Liverpool and City lost to lesser teams as compare to Arsenal this season? Please check ESPN soccernet for data if you are hardworking and bother to check.

  15. Grandad says:

    Very interesting and informative article Agboola.Since the advent of the Premier League the main emphasis on the game it could be argued has changed from players to Managers, or so it seems to me.Punters on the media are paid fortunes for their “expertise” which invariably centres on criticising Managers for getting it wrong, one way or another.Yet in reality many of these so called experts have themselves failed miserably in Management, Garry Neville being a classic example.Systems , and tactics change and currently athleticism in the form of the “pressing game” is flavour of the period.In some cases, by defending deep certain Managers have found a way of grinding out the points necessary to keep them in the top flight with all the financial benefits that entails.At the end of the day however it’s all about the quality of the players which form the first team pool and the strengths and weaknesses of these players.A team is only as good as its poorest player, a quote attributed to the late Bob Shankly I believe.On Sunday , defensively, Spurs did not have a weakness with two DMs stationed in front of 2CBs and with their full backs rarely venturing into the final third of the pitch.Arsenal on the other hand, while they controlled possession, committed elementary errors by pushing forward their FBs at every opportunity.In the case of Tierney aided by Saka, we were never exposed, but in the case of Bellerin aided by Willian, we most certainly were, against arguably the most effective left winger in the League.Mane and Sterling make up the top three in effectiveness in that area.Before the match on Sunday I assume Arteta would have stressed to Bellerin, in particular, the need to stay goal side of Son.If Arteta failed to do so, he is culpable, and if he did, he needs to find a new RB.On the day we had a number of weaknesses other than Bellerin , the most notable being Xhaka and Auba.We can discuss for hours the tactics of the game, but as Shankly inferred,poor performers on the day cost you the game,.I would hope Arteta will have learned from the Spurs match and that we will not see a repetition of the naivety displayed on Sunday, which cost us the points.

    1. GunneRay says:

      Actually, Grandad… well said! 👍

    2. SueP says:

      That was a great read Grandad. It was also a relief not to have to read hysteria

    3. ken1945 says:

      Your on form tonight Grandad, your posts are spot on in the articles you post.

      I think your view regarding the left hand side and the right is so true…and that is why, in my opinion, not to play AMN and Elneny in place of Willian and Xhaka was a monumental mistake.

  16. Sandy says:

    We need Allegri to come manage Arsenal

    1. S says:

      He will never come here.
      He will not be in a position where two players earn more than him & he has little say over transfers.
      If relegation is what it takes to clear the deadwood THEN we might be able to get a good manager…

  17. durand says:

    Far too many problems to lay at the feet of one.
    1. Kronke at fault?

    yes, the appointments of Gazidis and Raul were terrible. Firing DD was the biggest mistake of all. Still have management issues, is EDU the one to fix it; time will tell. FB’s that can’t defend, midfielders that can’t create, Kronke permitted the driftwood to pile up.
    Treating the club more like a piggy bank than the honored club of rich tradition that it is.

    2. Manager merry-go-round that we are currently on. Should Arteta be better than 4-1-6 this year? of course he should, but success is not instant nor guaranteed. Give him this year to right the ship; June is 18 months, good enough to sack Wenger and Emery, and Arteta too if he doesn’t have the answers.

    3. Are players to blame? Of course they are, the unispiring, insipid, heartless, prideless, gutless, performances we have witnessed are unacceptable. I would exempt Gabriel, Tierney, and maybe Partey, but the rest are simply not worth their wages.
    Stop posting on twitter, stop talking in articles, do your talking on the pitch. Their meaningless comments do not reflect their performances on the pitch.

    4. Are fans to blame? To some degree, yes. Expecting instant success and gratification, this snowflake generation that believe themselves to be unique and special. Life is difficult, Football is difficult, other players get paid too, and want to win also.
    However, how often do we see players fight for 90 minutes? For their 100% effort, we could live with some mistakes. For giving their blood, sweat, and tears we can accept we were 2nd best that day. But getting played off the pitch repeatedly? jogging around, half-assed, passionless and lifeless play looking more like Sunday league than Premier league?
    Fans should be outraged at this, boo and hiss, and bring out the pitchforks and torches.

    We were spoiled by Wenger’s reign, that is very true, but it is the standard now like it or not. If players can’t perform to that standard, then don’t come to North London. IF the owner can’t fund that standard, then sell and move on.

  18. Tony says:

    You know some keep ranting obviously: MA needs to learn from this or that lost matches” Honestly he’s had so many of bad matches played and he still hasn’t learnt nothing, Yeah he hasn’t.
    Had it been he has, He should know quite well by now that XHAKA isn’t capable of running AFC Midfield, Auba isn’t AFC captain material not in anyway or that.

    I bet y’all MA won’t feature Matinelli’ in the League and that will be a discussion soon..

  19. Joe. S says:

    I wonder who exactly the bloke whispering in Arteta’s ear is and how much influence he actually has on tactics and team selections. Whoever, it’s not working and makes the manager look bad. Also weren’t Arsenal supposed to have signed up someone from Brentford who was supposed to be a specialist at set plays. Wonder what he’s being paid for especially at a time when so many other jobs were lost. To the point Arteta should be his own man, .He seems to have taken too much from Guardiola’s and not enough from the Wegner play book. I’m willing to give him another two windows to get in another two or three key players and hopefully rid himself of the dross. We fans know who they are, I hope Arteta does as well. This season is not going to be pretty, but we won’t get relegated. I’m expecting a very good post Xmas run unlike the usual Arsenal where we start well and then fizzle out. Hopefully it’s not just my wishful thinking in wanting Arteta to be a better manager than what we have recently witnessed.

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