Analysis – Are Arsenal really making progress? I’m not so sure…


Scrolling casually through my twitter feed of recent, I begin to observe less and less posts by Arsenal fan handles who would usually flood my timeline with Arsenal related discussions. Since our humiliation at St James Park, Arsenal fans have reclined shamefaced (again) with deep-seated-disappointment into obscurity, uncertain on what direction their dear club is headed. Recent results are only reminiscent of a lingering conundrum that has bedevilled the club for quite some time now, the conundrum of the ‘near-success-syndrome’.

When Arsenal are put to the test, when push comes to shove, we always seem to *buckle under pressure* crumbling under the “weight of expectation”, bringing much pleasure to our detractors I might add. This could be why players become disillusioned and decide to jump ship, Chamberlain, Sanchez and most recently Aubameyang are but a few examples. History is rife with evidence, but to cite a few instances; the Europa final against Chelsea comes to mind’, the tie against Villarreal and our former coach in the Europa League, and of course at Newcastle who only a match prior, conceded 5 unreplied goals against a Man City side.

I did not mention our second leg against Tottenham because it was clear “the establishment” was vested against Arsenal, but that’s another topic for another day. All of these situations painfully remind me troy Deeney’s rather infamous statement targeted at Arsenal; the aptly put “they-lack-the-cojones” remark and the plausibility of that statement. Arsenal, on numerous occasions, have had the opportunity to banish its demons, but our “dear wizards” never seem capable of casting the right spells at the right time, whilst’ inflicting disharmony and disenchantment on the Arsenal fanbase.

Are we making any progress? it depends on who you ask? The shareholders and board members at Arsenal are smiling to the bank (presumably), so a ‘yes’ answer would easily suffice from that lot. A section of the fanbase in support of Arteta would also give a yes answer. But if you have been a fan long enough, if you’ve witnessed the glory days of the unbeaten run, and premier league trophies under Arsene, and you compare and contrast, your answer is quite likely to be the opposite.

In my opinion, we are stagnant at best, stuck in a gorge between being a “formidable” side feared in the premier league and a wannabe “average” club with the (class) of a mid-table-side. At the moment, Arsenal isn’t feared or respected by any Premier League team. All the teams fancy their chances against Arsenal, unlike teams like City, Liverpool and Chelsea, we just don’t command any sort of respect, and this is worrisome.

At times, I wonder what our board meetings are all about, what issues are discussed and what resolutions are made? But back to the status quo and “all things being equal”, we play in the Europa league next season. Let’s track back to the beginning of this season, many pundits could not envision Arsenal being able to secure a slot in any European competition, but successive results emboldened the fanbase. Though I wasn’t a fan of Arteta, our early successes encouraged me to give him the benefit of a doubt, but building on his successes has always been Arteta’s Achilles heel. Case in point, when Arsenal won the Community Shield against Liverpool, we (Arsenal fans) thought we were onto something. The FA Cup success against Chelsea was sweet revenge and the highlight of Arteta’s managerial career at Arsenal, but like I mentioned, Arteta hasn’t been able to build on these successes which is a “red flag” for me. Still on that point, after we lost three (3) in a row and bounced back against Chelsea, Man Utd and West Ham, fans again started “trusting in the process” but his ability to lead this side will always be called to question, despite the club “hurriedly” giving him another contract. I must say, that action was timely, because without it, surely the #ArtetaOut hashtag would have trended massively within social media space inadvertently putting pressure on the Arsenal Board. Yet, I can’t help but wonder whether the Management made that decision in haste. It seems Arsenal has this ‘culture’ of placing individuals over the club and we risk another Wenger-esque situation where fans filled with apathy relinquished season tickets and abandoned the Emirates Stadium in his last year at the club.

To put things into retrospect, because we had the UEFA Champions League in sight, the Europa league now looks rather; (for lack of a better adjective) *distasteful* for “some of us”, but a section of the arsenal fanbase would beg to differ. They would argue that Europa League is progress because we previously did not think we could reach the competition.

My question here is, how likely are we to win the competition? If we had secured Champions League this season (still possible “technically”, but less than likely), getting quality players would have been easier and affordable (in a matter of speaking), but alas! Arsenal would now struggle to attract any quality signings in the forthcoming transfer window.

Let’s now delve into our last transfer activity. Arsenal expended 150m, the most of any Premier League side at the time, and brought in five (5) players namely, Tomiyasu, White, Lokonga, Tavares and of course Ramsdale who is easily the best of the lot. Of the other Four, to be quite candid, we haven’t gotten much, yes’ Tomiyasu is a fans favourite but injuries have hampered him delivering his best when needed, giving opportunity to Soares whom, in my opinion, has covered well in Tomi’s stead. But the same cannot be said of the left side of our defensive wing’ where Tavares has indeed struggled to fill in Tierney’s shoes. Arsenal could have secured the UCL by now if we had won two of our three-streak-loss to Crystal Palace-Brighton-Southampton.

If memory serves me right, we lost Partey to injury in our hard fought 0-1 win against Villa and his replacement after that was much debated. In the end, Arteta (settled for) inexperience over experience by going with Lokonga over Elneny. The result of that decision was a three-streak loss, and for me, that was where we lost the stream for champions league participation. So, I am quite perplexed as to why Arsenal (hurriedly) offered Arteta a new contract immediately after those losses, there’s obviously a bigger problem here at Arsenal.

I remember Liverpool’s pre-Klopp days, specifically when Kenny Dalglish was in charge, they had an abysmal season that year but won the Carling Cup, that didn’t prevent his sack by the Fenway Sports Group. Liverpool continued to hire and fire till they got Klopp. Now we barely remember their struggle days, their ¡ no-nonsense American owners aligned their own interests with that of the Liverpool fanbase and even when the going was tough for them, the fans stood firmly with the club because they could see the Management were putting in effort. That cannot be said of the Arsenal’ where the fans have (always) been at loggerheads with decisions of both manager and Management.

To conclude, that loss against Newcastle was evidence of a much deeper problem with Arteta’s managerial ability. When one chip is (out) of Arteta’s carefully curated first team, the whole team crumbles, he doesn’t seem to have a bench he trusts and lacks the ability to adequately rotate his squad, and who is to blame for this? not Kroenke, because Kroenke has played his part in providing the funds. Arteta was adequately backed but his choice of recruited players have led the team to the precipice of another rather moribund season. I was less than impressed with the five-player acquisition and I stand to be corrected but only Ramsdale has lived up to the billing,

White has been Ok, but Saliba could easily have played that role, his stint at Marseille proves that point and would have saved the club 50 million quid if he was recalled. So, I am less confident that things will change, I don’t think Arteta can win next year’s Europa league (that remains to be seen), and he is sure to struggle for a Champions league place because the likes of Ten Hag and Conte (whom I earnestly wished for Arsenal) would be looking to make a point. Suffice to say, it’s obvious that Top 4 for Arsenal would remain elusive, and the pain in the Arsenal will continue uninterrupted.


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  1. “I did not mention our second leg against Tottenham because it was clear “the establishment” was vested against Arsenal” – there’s your biggest problem. Fans and manager alike make excuses. You didn’t lose to a better team, you lost because everyone was against you. As long as Arsenal think like that they will never improve, failure will always be someone else’s fault.

    1. On the whole I think the article was balanced and a good one however this statement is used too many times as a reason why we are stopped from success.

      Like it never happened to anyone else’s just part of the game but no we seem to have developed a complex and excuse mentality . Even Arteta says ‘this is no excuse but this is what happened ‘ inferring it’s the reason why we lost or didn’t perform!;)

      This started happening as I can remember when Kroenke moved in and Wenger was his all juggling mouthpiece and buffer between financial restriction enforced by the powers that be and the fans. Buying players at a price and a standard never stopped to before Wenger would always excuse his players and other variables all the while having to choke on his own desire to spill the beans and tell the world that his hands were tied the tight fisted Kroenke/debt paying of a stadium that would make us the best in the world!

      Seems laughable now but most believed it then..NOT NOW!

      ‘there’s obviously a bigger problem here at Arsenal.’ too right Pat!

    2. I agree but also would say the Tottenham result shouldn’t be excluded because, whether you agree with the red card and penalty decisions or not, some of the players were clearly rattled by the occasion and that’s what really led to the incidents in question.
      As you say though, it’s just an excuse in any case – clutching at straws really.
      The rest of the article was very good though imo

  2. Next season will be even harder. Man U will likely be up there and spurs will be too with conte in charge. Can’t see the current top 3 not in there either. Years of poor recruitment has led to this (manager and players). The conspiracy talk about spurs is nonsense. Even if the penalty was a bit soft, holding rightly got sent off. We were only a goal down at this point.

  3. Just be patient, because Arsenal are still making progress. Man United have learned the hard lesson of being impatient, so they tried to fix it next season by giving Ten Hag a long-term contract

    Sometimes it also depends on luck. Liverpool took almost thirty years before FSG and Klopp gave them a major trophy

    1. GAI, do you think only Arsenal buy a tall CF and RB while other teams sit back and relax.? Do you think only Arsenal make progress and other regress?

      Logically, other the teams also do the same thing. In the end, the substance of manager matters.

      1. Kenny, the mid-table clubs will also sign new players, but I don’t think their owners are as supportive as Kroenke

        Arteta has proven he could defeat and keep up with the big teams’ managers, so he has a good potential to be a top manager in EPL

    2. Error what do you call a major trophy, only the epl title? Are you forgetting Rafa won champions league before Klopp and Fsg. Come on GAI do better than that. It’s you fans that mislead fans, even the arsenal faithful.

      1. I forgot about Benitez’s UCL title at Liverpool. But it wasn’t as huge as FSG’s and Klopp’s achievements, since Benitez’s team crumbled after the European success and they didn’t dominate EPL

        I should’ve said FSG/ Klopp have been giving Liverpool dominance and stability in EPL

        I bet the progress and the stability in EPL are what Kroenke wants at Arsenal. Arteta has given it by finishing in the fifth place

    3. GAI they won champions league under Benitez in 2005 also won UEFA Cup in 2001 under Houllier

      1. Yes Kev, I forgot about it. But Liverpool have never achieved dominance and stability in EPL before FSG/ Klopp came

        What FSG and Klopp have been doing reminds me of our EPL dominance in Wenger’s best years

  4. Why do we compare ourselves to Klopp and Liverpool, as if it’s even close?

    They hired arguably best manager in the game, we hired a no-experienced built nothing rookie.

    They spent 70 million on VVJ at CB and Arteta spent 50 million on White. One shored up the back line, the other jury still out.

    One manager addressed problems and holes in the squad, and the other decided to embark on a youth project.

    Since people like to compare the two, let’s also compare the man management between Klopp and Arteta.

    Ridiculous to compare the 2 clubs as one showed ambition and the other settled for less. One made moves to improve and compete immediately, the other trying to sell “project” or “process”

    1. Hey Durand who’s “we” I don’t compare our manager to klopp or the teams to each other. Don’t listen to those people who do….

      I think klopp is unique in he’s inspirational personality and how to build a team that don’t bottle it and tactically savvy…..

      Remember only winning the league is acceptable anything less is failure that’s means 4th spot 3rd and second position because we are a Huge club now and historically.

      When did we last win the league? 2003-2004? So we have failed to be the best team since then(we failed)not just the last two half seasons. Their is no point trying to pin this to the current manager when experienced managers could not do better (winning the league) since Arsene last triumph.

      In my opinion I don’t mind sacking MA at the end of the season, but at this rate we are decades away from success……..

      But I will still be hoping maybe cheering tomorrow 💪🤞

  5. Agreed with you on all the points except, that last part of qualifying for next year’s champions league.
    This is football anything can happen take Chelsea for instance they are loosing some of their experience star players and you can not totally trust spurs.
    So we might have chance next season the lads would have grown more in experience and quality but I don’t trust Arteta 💯 %. Fingers crossed we might still qualify for the UCL 😛😜.

    1. We..One hundred (and ten;) % won’t get CL.;)
      We had our chance when it was in our hands.
      The spuds as much as I’d like it to happen will not be loosing to a relegated team.

      We may struggle against a safe and buoyed Everton team with a ex chelski player Ana manager who would like to see our hopes dashed and to make a statement of what they are capable of next season.

      They may well be above us with their new and ambitious ownership this time next year also.

    1. That’s too simplistic – had we not lost to 3 mid table teams a few games earlier, we wouldn’t have been in the position where losing to spurs could stop us reaching top 4..
      So it’s a bit excessive to put everything on one bad game from one individual player in the most high pressure game in ages (although you’re right, it was a silly from him).

  6. A degree of thought has gone into this article, the thrust of which I mostly do NOT endorse. I have two matters hich jar with me.
    Firstly was the mentionof a “twitter feed”. I think only a fool has a twitter feed and know it to be a toxic site thar attracts the very worst types. So a twitter feed” was my first “oh oh” moment when reading this piece. Secondly -and I WRITE THIS AS AN OLDER FAN- the distinctly quaint opinion expressed “if you have been a fan long enough , you will have witness threunbeaten run” etc..

    Good grief, young writer, a great many of us were attending some forty or more years before anyone in Britain had ever even heard the name of Wenger.

    So a writer of Louis’ tender years can hardly claim to have much perspective about the longand varied history of our club. Atleast not from personal experience.
    That relative inexperience therefore also jarred with me. Esp as the writer, rather laughably, seems to think himself “experienced” by simply remembering Wengers start.

    Do you even know who George Swindin was, Louis? And what he did at our club? Thought not!

      1. Pat, my REAL point was not that he should read it- he probably has already done so, but that he has not EXPERIENCED more than since Wenger started .


    1. Jon please can you let us know at what age you are allowed to form an opinion or have perspective on Arsenal?

      Or what an “experienced” fan even means??

      I hope you recover from being jarred by an “inexperienced writer”. To laugh at someone and look down on them because of their age is utterly pathetic. I hope you don’t treat your younger family members like this and dismiss everything they say.

      1. PJ-SA, YOU WANT AN ANSWER TO WHAT CONSTITUTES EXPERIENCE? OK THEN, here it is. You need to have witnessed by being there or at least seen live onTV for at least forty years . Preferably more.


        FYI, I did not laugh at him at all; that is your own interpretation, not mine. What I DID DO, though was challenge his opinion that he is an experienced fan,even though going back no further than Wengers start.

        Would you please explain to me why you believe it is out of order for me to challenge other views on a debate site? I note you have challenged mine but wish to deny me the same privilege. Please explain why you think I have not the right to challenge others that you have just done to me?

        You are also out of order and should apologise to me, as you make wild assumptions about my family members, without knowing a single thing about my family

        Arrogance by you, or not?

        Why not come back at me and debate as an adult, instead of as a kid, using wild and inaccurate insults borne out of ignorance of my situation?!!

        In case you have never noticed, we are allowed to challenge each other views, which is what I AND YOU HAVE BOTH DONE. PLEASE HAVE THE GUTS TO ANSWER SENSIBLY AND SUBSTANTIVELY.

    2. We must not only dwell on history and not look ahead. If we dwell on the past we will rot away like some great company that thought they were built to last, example Kodak, Blackberry, Enron just to name a few. A great company, business, and even a football club like arsenal look ahead and not only look back. We need to innovate and keep up with the times like loving Twitter even with it’s hard to stomach stance at times that you bash, put science in the game and make bold moves. If we look at saying oh we have had worst times and not looking a head to lead this club in a bold new frontier, we will fail and arsenal will cease to exist as a top class club. MR JON FOX IF ITS ONLY OLD FANS ARSENAL HAVE AND DONT GET YOUNG AND VIBRANT FANS, THIS CLUB WILL SURELY GO THE WAY OF THE DINOSAURS. Let’s read the history, love the history but not dwell on it forever and look towards a brave new future for arsenal. I have witness one nil to the arsenal, I have witness going an unbeaten season with scintillating football that made me smile days upon days, I’ve witness barren runs and heartbreak but still believe in this club like my family. What about those, especially outside Britain who support this club, I WANT THEM TO WITNESS 2 NIL TO THE ARSENAL AND TWO UNBEATEN SEASON AND PLAYING FOOTBALL THAT MAKES THEM SMILE FOR MONTHS ON IN. THE NEW FANS ARE THE FUTURE AND I EMBRACE THEM WHOLEHEARTEDLY. COYG

      1. Kori, You make a wildly inaccuarate accusation against me that is COMPLETELY false !
        I have never wished that we do not have fans of all ages from 0 -105. I am very glad and relieved that we have all ages in fans.
        What I did say, instead of the lie you attempted to attach to my name, was something completely different though, which you failed to see properly and have plainly misunderstood.

        Specifically , what I SAID was that the article writer was regarding himself as an experienced fan, because he could remember from the 2003-4 unbeaten Invincible run onwards.
        I gave my opinion- which I am allowed to do, as we practice free speech on this site -that to have real experience, you need to go way further back than that . In fact, I would say at least forty years back.

        But those who have less experience have an equal claim to be fans and keen ones too, but just not as experienced.


  7. Goddamn … balanced… uh didnt we get ødegaard in the same window…as tomy, white, tavares, ramsdale etc im questioning it myself now but im thought we did… so, uh ramsdale transformed our laughable ability to play out from the back … into a genuine work in progress… id also take a look at the team inherited and the team now … Manchester UTD are probably going to try and do the same thing but, I fear for them (I don’t like em) but it makes me realise how dangerous it is sorting out a monster squad with players that dont train in line with the team or expects days off (ozil), whom I love… but really ! or just straight up saboteur (mustafi) … Sokrotis… ? We weren’t going anywhere with that squad, and that’s before you factor in restriction’s with non homegrown players meaning we couldn’t legally field our best 11 with rotation…after trying out the oldies (Willian) 1st and being let down I think MA has now embarked on possibly THE most exciting project I’ve seen since the 90’s…
    we’ve gone from kolasinac, sokritis, mustafi, bellerin

    To Tierney, Gabriel, White, Tomy…
    so I believe the success with the process is clear for all of us to see (juve want gabriel and partey 4 a reason) this transfer window is probably the 2nd most critical in a decade 2nd to the revolution we witnessed last year … it didn’t make sense how much we changed, staff wise too.. but the 1st team rotation was scary … ozil permanently…. on the bench ! honestly its enough to make man crap live chickens… through Arteta Alone… we got Cojones mf… aaand he got away with it.
    this time around, omg he knows so much more about this team.
    he can now fill thee … obvious… gaps in the squad with players that enhance the already ridiculous saka for instance :-Tielemans maybe … Neves … maybe Vlahovic *sigh*, Tchoumeni, Arthur
    all of these players have mad experience and the ability to dictate games one thing we currently struggle with just like we struggled playing out from the back and its being addressed .. hell our squad is so new we didnt have the playing data to make many more effective transfers, we simply didnt know how they would galvanise as a unit… all of us , Arteta had a vision but tbh for a diehard Arsenal fan.. it was a bit like brexit … But look how Tomiyasu performed look how ramsdale performed… mate get behind your manager before you miss the show and never, underestimate the potential of Martin Ødegaard !
    Victoria Concordia Crescit

  8. The way Arsenal quietly “rewarded” arteta a new contract is indeed questionable, though it effectively quelled any dissent, I’m still at loss as to what prompted their confidence in him. We were a constant UCL side, now, we are getting comfortable in Europa, this is step down, we slowing sliding down the ladder of mediocrity, if we start getting comfortable in Europa, the chances are, a time will also come when we start looking to Europa, the way we once looked at the UCL. We are “lowering” our standards, this is not progress, we need to start demanding for results irrespective of who’s at the helm of Affairs. Mediocrity is a slippery slope. Leeds won the league (1992) and fell off, Portsmouth were are a regular EPL side once upon a time. Don’t think that it cannot happen to us, things need to change and quickly.

  9. I enjoy constructive discussions but I am always contemptuous of abusive language! It is completely out of order to insinuate that someone has dementia merely because of his advanced age. Growing up is a factor of life and each of us grows every to moment. Even those claiming to be young and alert are not what they were in the past few years. It is a well known fact that a man in his 70s, as Jon has cared to inform us on several occasions, is in the prime of his mental faculties. It is therefore rude to question his capacity to reason logically. None of us has detected any lapse of memory in Jon’s arguments. I think the reverse is true. Jon will vividly present issues of 1960s as if they happened yesterday. Is that the person anyone can doubt?
    On the issue of whether Arsenal has progressed or regressed we need to be guided by empirical evidence and not our subjective feelings. Basing on the past two seasons compared to this one the answer is yes we have made some of progress. Is it enough to make us proud? I believe not yet. Our team is still in a rebuilding process which could take at least two more years. Obviously other teams also have their own work to do. However success is always built on a well thought out and constructed programme. Arsenal is on a deliberate course of action whose ultimate aim is to take the team back to the top where it rightly belongs. Is it Arteta the right man for this task? Judging by what we have seen so far I believe he is but that is my view. You may also have yours and I don’t begrudge you that. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right as long as it doesn’t infringe on other people’s rights.

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