Analysis – I support Arteta but his incompetence cost Arsenal a Top Four place

Arteta’s Incompetence means Arsenal miss out on Top Four

Hello wonderful family, what a sad end (thank goodness!) to a rollercoaster season. I sincerely commend every single one of us and all true Arsenal fans for what we have endured this season, please make sure you rest and look after yourselves, do not allow Arsenal to drain you as we head into the transfer window because we have suffered enough.

Firstly, some may not be aware, but I am a strong supporter of Arteta and an avid believer in his project- he has won me over with his sheer courage and the ability to communicate his ideas brilliantly. I said courage because if you are not strong, you won’t want to get involved with Arsenal UNDER KROENKE and in the mess we found ourselves.

I have always defended Arteta on this fine platform. I couldn’t continue with that because a lot of people are so negative, biased, and do not analyse things objectively. That said, being an Arteta fan does not mean I can’t criticize him if I think he is wrong. The likes of Pep, Klopp, and Tuchel (some Chelsea fans even wanted him out at some point) get criticized so who is Arteta to be different.

Truth be told, at the beginning of the season, no one predicted or expected Arsenal to finish in the top 4 for different reasons. For some, the players we signed are not good enough, for some, Arteta is not good enough, and for some, the teams competing for top 4 are better than us in every department. Do you want to know my thoughts? It is the last option because any normal person would expect City, Pool, Chelsea, and United to be in the top 4. The FIRST THREE teams are guaranteed while 4 other teams fight to the 4th spot especially when you consider the summer arrivals at United. To make matters worse, we lost our first 3 games and again most people would not even fancy us to finish in the Europa League spot, but things changed as the season went on.

There are two arguments I would never agree with; I have heard people say, “but we did not expect to finish in the top 4” and “Arteta should finish in the top 4 because he spent a lot of money”. I think these two arguments are stupid.

Let us begin with the first one, we might not have expected to compete or finish in the top 4 but the reality of the season means we should finish in the top 4. I believe I don’t need to explain this, so I won’t bother with that.

There is no one in the entire universe that expected Leicester to win the Premier League when they did, but then the reality of the season means that they have a chance to win it and they went all out, believed, and won it! Even West Ham tried to compete for the Top 4 this season so why not us when the chance presented itself?

I won’t be tempted to go into other areas where Arteta has failed this season as this article would become too long, but I keep asking myself these questions; “Why did Arteta opt for Lokonga ahead of Elneny when Partey got injured?” “Why did it take Arteta 3 straight losses before correcting this decision?” “Why did he go all out against Tottenham when we only needed a draw?” These three stupid decisions ultimately cost us the top 4.

How can Elneny who is vastly more experienced in this league be behind Lokonga in the pecking order, how is that fair? Arteta, against Brighton, still moved Xhaka, our only available technical security in midfield to left-back. As soon as we lost Partey and Tierney, you expect a smart manager to change to a back three to better utilize the attacking potential of Tavarez and also shore up the defence as we are now conceding in every match. Arteta had to wait until we dropped NINE points before bringing in Elneny, at a time when we had the chance to go third, PAIN!

There is just no way you can justify these decisions.

Having said that, the opinion that Arteta should finish in the top 4 because he spent a lot does not make sense. Look at it this way, Newcastle is now the richest club in the league. Let’s assume there is no FFP, and they go out and sign all the best players in the world, would you fancy them to win the league next season? They can’t buy the cohesion, team spirit, and stability of the other teams in one window, team building is not as straightforward as just buying players anyhow, just ask United.

Because we spent more in the summer does not mean we now have the same quality as the other teams above us, as we spend, the other teams would further strengthen their teams and we will continue to play catch up. Even if we made the top 4 this season and signed good players in the summer, I still wouldn’t fancy us for the top 4 next season. In my opinion, only the two crazy teams in Liverpool and City (Liverpool only lost 2 games, while City lost three) are guaranteed to make the Top 4, it will keep changing from 3rd to 6th every season and we will regularly miss on Top 4, the earlier we accept that, the better for us.

I still support Arteta, but he has to speed up his learning, he still has a long way to go and a lot of money to spend before he can take us to the top. Looking at the mistakes he made at the tail end of the season, I don’t think he is even ready for the UCL. The club’s ambition was Europa, so even though we had a chance to finish in the top 4 and speed up the project, it did not matter to them, which is a pity.

Given how the season has panned out, he might have done well to his bosses but to me, Arteta has not done well, and next season has to be the make-or-break season for him IF ARSENAL HAVE ANY AMBITION.

The season is over now, and we go again in the Europa League, (maybe we can win it now that Emery’s Villareal is playing in the Conference league) let us hope we have an amazing summer!

What do you think?


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Tags 2021/22 season Arteta Top Four


  1. i believe it is a combination of incompetence, naivety and inexperience as a manager that the team didn’t see off the spuds for 4th spot.
    some of the team selections at times were baffling at times but overall i would give him 7/10 for the season.
    if you look at the 4 who finished above us, there managers are steeped in glory plus have a better squad of more experience players so overall 5th is where we should be. this doesn’t take away the fact that 3 games to go and we have the games in hand to get us over the line.
    i am still firmly behind MA and what he is trying to do but i said it before that for me, as a club we need to take stock after the first 10 to 12 games and if it is not going well barring big injuries and we are not doing well we should move him on. saying that if we move MA who do we get?
    knowing the owners of Arsenal as we do they will simply replace like for like and do it on the cheap.
    a very critical summer transfer window for us but need players of a better calibre to come in and help the youngsters who carried us for a good part of the season but seem to run out of legs at the end. what we have at the heart of the midfield bar Party and martin is total dross, so a very key area to strengthen if we are going to move forward and play a bit more expansive football rather pile on the pressure on the back 5.
    we all blame our defence for leaking goals in the last part of the season but before we got injuries to key positions we were strong and didn’t give much away. defending starts from the front and middle but for me the middle (after Party got injuries) was appealing

  2. Whoever made the decision not to sign a new player after the goalless draw against Burnley, deserves to be blamed. Arteta said they preferred to wait for a player with the correct profile, so he was also a part of the problem

    As for Lokonga starting ahead of Elneny, I guess because Elneny’s contract wasn’t going to be extended and Lokonga might have a minimum number of appearances clause on his contract as a rising young player

    I’m glad Kroenke keeps Arteta though, because Arteta just needs a few more players to complete the team. If Arsenal replaced him, we would’ve gone back to square one

    1. Has he been given the No. 14 jersey Declan? Is he staying then?
      P.S.- Assume you mean Eddie here

      1. Yes he has been given the No 14 shirt, it’s on .com but whether he is staying, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s part of the persuasion ?

  3. I get what MA is doing but a winner is a winner, I think we need someone to take us to the next level, he’s done great but there’s no where in the world you can explain to anyone that we lost the top 4 to Spurs. We need a winning manager, I don’t see a Patrick Viera team loosing in such scenarios. We need a winning manager, truth is he’s done great work that you couldn’t get anywhere but he can’t move us to the next level. We need a winning manager. Get those 5 to 6 signing a win something next season

  4. En I think there’s a problem with our Recruitment team, you can’t tell City is getting Harland at £51m en they want to sell to us Jesus at £55m it doesn’t make sense. You buy Pepe at £72m when Zaha is there, those people also need to be moved on

  5. En as far as Champions League, Me I see this was the only chance we had, I don’t see it coming soon, coz you can’t get fine players without it.

  6. A like this article though very critical of the gaffer.

    It’s for some of these clear reasons mention in the column, why we are referred to as armchair managers.

    We lost top 4 as a result of the razor thin squad made in January,
    Just make a flick with your fingers, things dont work like that.
    You just don’t change formation overnight and expect free flowing football.

    The great Alex will tell you Wenger, didn’t like mixing his players, that’s one of the reasons he played some of the most beautiful football
    only rival by Barcelona in his mojo days.

    The razor thin squad depleted by injuries IMO prevented us from finishing even third, never again should we repeat this mistake.

    Yes the gaffer had made mistakes, it is said great men make great mistakes, we are seeing that playing out right now in Europe a great leader has made a massive blunder, causing severe distress to the innocent.

    Am not saying the gaffer is great ,far from it but have seen enough to know he is a very capable campaigner.

    1. Whilst I agree with much of what you have written I disagree regarding the article which I think is limited in it’s effectiveness in it’s attempts to be critical of Arteta.
      It is fine to be critical but at the same time there needs to some more care in the words being used. People are throwing around words like “stupid” and “incompetence” as if any manager could simply walk in and do a better job.
      A few people have pointed out that the teams ahead of Arsenal this season all have stronger squads. I doubt that many would disagree with this. The managers of these teams are all considered amongst the best in Europe and have been for years yet even they have not got it right in all their games this season. Do you call them stupid or naive if they make errors?
      Spurs have two world class players, one of whom has sometimes been considered the best in his position. Yet even these players have been snuffed out by mid level teams on occasion this season. No-one would dare call Conte incompetent for “allowing” this to happen.
      As for the “Spurs” approach to their managers do people honestly believe that Arsenal’s cause would have been best served by sacking the manager “until we get it right” this season? Arsenal are not Chelsea and I struggle to see how this would work.
      Arsenal have been rebuilding the squad with young players whilst trying to remain competitive. This was always going to be challenging and high risk especially with such a thin squad. A big issue has clearly been the financial problems of the last few years which limits the available options. Unsurprisingly, some fans blame Arteta for this too.

  7. Consequences always come around. The club chose an inexperienced manager to lead a young squad lacking experience.

    Pair them together and you get predictable results.

    Poor man management, tactical naivete, mentality issues, and no discernable style of play. Throwing money at the problem is no guarantee as many have said.

    An experienced manager given the patience and funding and control Arteta received would have been a better choice.

    We have what we have, can only hope Arteta learns from his mistakes, lessens his ego, and improves next year.

      1. Arteta did nothing wrong, he even tried so much, considering the quality of players made available for him. Arguably there is still work in progress in the Arsenal team and hopefully things will turn out good come next season. What we all need is
        little patience, note: Roma wasn’t built in a day. Gunner forever.

        1. Patience, ah yes. Let’s ignore the spuds going through Nuno and Mason as managers until they settled on Conte.

          They also added 2 players in January to improve their squad and finish in 4th.

          Meanwhile, two 8th place finishes, and choking our way out of 4th we still have Arteta who finially finished where Emery did. Took Emery 1 year to finish 5th with “deadwood” people complain about, and Arteta required 2 1/2 years.

          So why don’t we all continue to be patient after 15 years, lower our expectations, and admit that top 6 is our new top 4. Afterall, the manager was rewarded for this “progress.”

    1. Spot on as usual Durand and MA should have to
      answer to such criticisms throughout the summer.

      I am no MA apologist, nor fan but I do believe that
      the board and Kroenkes unwillingness to financially
      support the club in January was an additional factor
      in Arsenal’s predictable capitulation down the stretch.
      Refusing to bring in a capable striker after Aubas
      dismissal and rolling the dice with a razor thin squad
      considering the busy fixture list toward the end of the
      season was an act of criminal negligence and
      ultimately cost the club CL royalties for next season.
      And before anyone states that conducting business
      in the January window is extremely difficult, Spuds
      seemed to have no problems acquiring the services
      Of both Bentacur and Devan K who were both integral
      in helping Conte’s men pip Arsenal(FREAKING ATAIN)
      for 4th place.

      Amazes me that for a club of its size, reputation and
      history that AFC continues to cannibalize itself and
      fall further and further behind its EPL rivals and the
      rest of Europe’s blue bloods.

      1. Amazes me that spuds seemingly have higher expectations and standards than Arsenal now.

        Sacked manager until they got it right, reinforced in January with 2 crucial players, and finished the season in 4th.

        Meanwhile, Arsenal decimated roster in January, didn’t address striker or attack and scoring. Thin squad and gambled unnecessary and it blew up in our face.

        Not to mention 4 points up with 3 games left, and 2 of 3 games were limp, gutless, and weak when it mattered. Thrashed Everton when neither team had anything really to play for.

  8. Well, what happened this season has been analysed enough on this platform by other posters and articles so I would like to focus on Goonerboy’s last sentence about the hope of an amazing summer.
    For me, the summer would truly be amazing if-
    1. Richard Garlick sorted out the contracts of our players, especially those who are returning from loans like William, Reiss, Hector, etc as well as those who have less than 2 years left in their contracts.
    2. MA and Edu draw up a starting shortlist based on the deficiencies of this season, mainly the 20 goal a season striker and the positions stricken by injury, and also keep a backup plan in case the primary targets are not swayed by the “project” or “process”. I wont name names because there are quite frankly a lot of players, but basically strengthening in the Striker, Central midfield and maybe FB/W along with backups for the FB/s.
    3. This is probably also important. MA may have to look to see whether the usefullness of Partey, Tierney and Tomi over a prolonged period of the project outweighs their propensity to be injured. If not, maybe we can sell to the highest bidder? TP would fetch a pretty penny and maybe we can get Tchouameni (wet dream, I know) and/or Verrati, Phillips, Bissouma or any of those ilk. There was also a rumour of Real wanting KT for 50 million. Maybe a good deal?
    4. The majority of business, if possible should be concluded as early as possible in order to avoid missing out on primary targets as well as more time on the training field for the new arrivals as well as those playing first time under Arteta (Saliba).

    Apart from these key points, I hope we develop a solid brand of football (I have no preference of it being attractive or ugly, just a brand would be nice) and come up with ways to counter opposition with a plan B or C if the primary approach is not working. I liked the initial days of Mikel as he was flexible in his approach to opponents. Maybe he has become somewhat rigid and takes more time to switch tactics. I hope he brings about his flexibility more. As for the targets for next season, well it would be stupid for me to assume without the kick of a single ball but maybe for starters a bit of consistency to fight for top 4 and acceptable cup runs in the domestic cups would be a good target? Honestly have no expectations from Europa so will only start hoping in after the quarter finals if we are there.
    Cheers Goonerboy for a good article!

  9. There are no guaranties in football, its the most surprising
    sport, result wise. You choose a path and follow it, and at the end you find out if it was the right path or the wrong one.. Now Arteta can breed some more youngsters in
    using the European games (hopefully) and rest the senior
    players in the PL.. ucl. next season.. patience is needed and believe

  10. By a distance the very best article you have written PATRICK, aka Goonerboy. This is exactly the sort of reasoned, moderate, well laid out and thought through article that I ALWAYS HOPE FOR from whoever writes.

    Now that you have raised your personal bar so much higher than I EVER ENVISAGED LIKELY , YOU NEED TO KEEP UP THIS STANDARD IN THE FUTURE.

    This article is the standard of a true WRITER, SO WELL DONE PATRICK!

      1. Apologies to you Sue, to Goonerboy too and so a silly mistake I have made. I confess to having been surprised at this standard from PATRICK, as I had thought.

        And no wonder either, as it was NOT Patrick after all.
        Thanks for correcting me and at least Gooner P willhave had apleasant shock at my comment, even though as it transpires, it should NOT have been meant for him.

  11. Not doing business in the January window was seriously warped. Like 1 + 1 = 3. Ignorant. For me just a continuation of many poor decisions. Conte bought Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur and it made perfect sense. Arteta/Edu were living in a mental fantasy. Spurs got 4th and it’s clear that it was there for us……for the taking. Arteta snatched mediocrity from the jaws of glory.

  12. Funny enough Manchester united and Tothenham are studying arsenal recruitment model and administration model, their ex players are all talking about our club, the posterity in the management, everyone had expected the club to booth out Arteta, but rather last season, the club ensured he spent the most in the market and will again spend again this summer, (as you read this , the agent of Napoli’s victor Osimhen is here in London for personal terms with the club).

    Sadly most of our fans do not see the envy in the eyes of our competitors…..

    Well next season we all will see where conte, Ten hag will fair , the supposed world class coaches some of us are so willing to drag into our club while showing this young and imperfect coach the back door.

    1. Wow!!! Where did you get the information that the spuds and manure are studying Arsenal’s recruitment and administration models?
      If they are, I suggest that puts both of them out of the top four race then, just like us.

      1. Oh and I cannot see any envy in the eyes of city, Liverpool, Chelsea, spud and newcastle, let alone united with a new manager!!!

    2. Mishael Leashim

      Spurs with Harry Kane and Son and having recruited Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski in January and beating us to fourth place…….are studying OUR recruitment model???? We never signed anybody in January and ****** up..

  13. I’m not sure you’re right.
    The reason we lost top 4 is the board not bringing players in January. Look at Tottenham.Thay brought tow. That’s the difference.
    In Tottenham and in Newcastle we lost with Alnani.

    1. @Nati,

      If the board didn’t want to spend money in January, why did Arteta and Edu waste the whole of the month trying to sign Vlahovic who eventually opted for Juventus? In fact Arsenal offered to pay Fiorentina more for Vlahovic than Juventus did. I think the board backed MA and Edu financially but they had no plan B when once Vlahovic chose Juventus.

      1. The player himself said that he wasn’t interested in joining The Arsenal, so the question must be, why did we continue to say we were pursuing him?
        Two reasons in my opinion :

        1. Keep the fan base quite and believing we were in for players.
        2. Deflect from the ridiculous culling of our squad in order to cut the wage bill.

        1. I hope you can detail why it was ridiculous and why it was unnecessary to cut the wage bill.

          1. It was ridiculous, because the player himself stated that he wanted to join Juventus and wasn’t interested in moving elsewhere – what further proof do you need?

            Secondly, I didn’t say it was unnecessary to cut the wage bill, in fact I implied the opposite by saying the club were deflecting the culling of players to save on the wage bill…. something that was done of course.
            How much damage was done by doing that, when we were so close to CL qualification, is a matter of opinion – the FACT is, we didn’t qualify and had players on long term injuries with no recognised and proven back up replacements.

            1. In your original entry you referred to the “ridiculous culling of our squad”. This is what my question was about.
              By phrasing your comment in this way I assumed that you felt it was unnecessary to cut the wage bill.

  14. considering the level of incompetence that has been on display during MA’s tenure, it seems incredibly disingenuous that one could cherry-pick just a few more recent cock-ups and simply excuse the rest…I would suspect that this is just another rather “deceptive” ploy by someone firmly within the Arteta Apologist camp, who’s simply using this “reach across the aisle” gesture as a means to recruit those from within the fence-sitting populous…kudos to you for your efforts though

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