Are Arsenal’s old bad habits creeping back in?

For the Gooners who needed evidence why we won’t sustain a title challenge, it was evidenced in the second half at Saint Marys.

Let me stress, that’s zero disrespect intended towards Arsenal and the progress they have made this season. It’s just a case of Man City setting such a standard that it’s a step too far to keep up. The Champions have raised the bar to the point that you need to be making 90 plus points to have a chance, therefore you can’t be affording to drop silly points.

Our 1-1 draw on Sunday comes under the umbrella of silly points.

The reason why many in our fanbase (including myself) have been reluctant to think beyond securing a top 4 finish was apparent at the weekend. To the team’s credit it’s took longer than expected for the bad habits to creep in.

The fact it took this long is a reflection that, no matter what happens, we have progressed under Mikel Arteta this campaign.

After the Liverpool win, I challenged maximum points out of our next two League fixtures.

Purely because they were the type of away games that we would slip up in over the years. Maybe we would show up with the wrong attitude, get complacent, not physically or mentally be up for the battle.

That’s why the victory at Elland Road was so impressive because we dug deep In a manner not in our DNA in the last decade.

That was undermined in the second period on the South Coast where we looked like the Gunners of 12 months ago.

That it’s taken thus far into a new season for bad habits to creep in, is testament to how focused our manager has prepared his squad every few days.

A point on our travels isn’t the end of the world either in terms of our position at the top of the table or the old adage that if you can’t win the match, make sure you don’t lose it. On previous visits we would have imploded after the disappointment of conceding an equaliser.

Yet with the schedule not getting any easier there were concerning signs.

It was like the first half was too easy and we fell into the trap of going through the motions meaning when Southampton did score, we didn’t have the mindset to find that next gear.

The likes of Jesus, Partey and Tomiyasu looked jaded.

When it came to our subs, Tierney looked a threat on our left but predictably Eddie Nketiah replacing Martinelli meant we had less of a goal threat.

Southampton v Arsenal Player Ratings as Saints halt the Gunners winning run

For someone on 100,000 pound a week, I as a supporter should not be feeling our firepower reduces when he comes on.

As I forecasted when he signed a new contract, we are paying him a lot of money to score against the likes of Zurich and Bodo.

My bet that Aubameyang will score more League goals than Eddie remains likely.

There’s zero points sticking up for him just for the sake of positivity. You don’t become a better fan for blind loyalty.

If the Kroenke Family do not invest in a striker to back up Jesus, it will cost us, maybe even top 4.

It’s disrespectful to Pep Guardiola and the standards he set to say this Arsenal team can compete with his team.

In a few months’ time we will laugh at the notion it was even suggested.

After we conceded we didn’t manage a shot on target. That would never happen to City.

A few of our key players are not going to the World Cup so a rest might come at the right time.

3 games in the Prem before the tournament kicks off.

3 games to hold on to our lead.



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  1. I don’t think there is any reason to overreact or panic, although many called it that fatigue would set in if we keep playing similar starting 11 and not making subs early enough.

    It’s also strange when starting 11 players come on in our tertiary competitions even when we are winning with our reserve team. It sends a message to all fringe players that they aren’t good enough while over using our starting 11.

    I still don’t understand why we kept Eddie, he’s had many chances and has never proved he is good enough. I would much rather have used this season to see what Balogun has, not saying he would have been any better but at least we would know right. Now Eddie won’t want to leave because no-one will pay his high salary so we are stuck with him and then when can Balogun ever get a chance in the next 2-3 years?

    We are still doing very well, I hope we start rotating more.

  2. Of course it’s Dan. Who else would write such stuff? If I may ask you Dan: What do you gain by writing such negativity? Is it to challenge common opinion, to look unique or just to generate debate? Whatever it is I don’t envy you at all. I can’t imagine myself persistently disparaging my team. It takes a lot of guts.

    1. Why don’t you counter his argument rather than bloody moaning .
      Maybe you have been living under some rock ,but there hasn’t been much to be positive about in the last few years ,yes this season as been great but fans are will always be sceptical when things go sideways because Artetas tenure so far .
      It would be a boring world if we all agreed like robots after every game would it not ?

      1. I would have countered the arguments if I could but then I realised it is difficult to counter one’s opinions and conjecture. Those arguments are not based on logic and analysis but sheer emotions which makes it difficult for one to counter those assumptions. What do you want me to say about your hero worship of Guardiola where you claim that it is an insult to say that our team can compete with his team? What is insulting there when we have played equal number of games and we are still two points better than Man city? What makes you think we can’t finish above City? I wouldn’t mind you arguing for City but if there is any insult hurled at anybody it your assertion that comparing Arsenal to Man City is an insult to Man city! Really? Did you take time to read through what you wrote? If City is such a super team why don’t you change and support it and leave those who want to support Arsenal to do so without suffering uncalled for abuse from you?
        What would you do if at the end of the season Arsenal won the EPL trophy? Do you think it is impossible? It is not. If Leicester could win it against all odds, why can’t Arsenal? There is nothing cast in stone here so save your premature conclusions for a later time.

  3. It is disappointing to see these comments already flying around on the back of only the 2nd time Arsenal has dropped points!

    Say what you may, Arsenal deserves to be where they are and it would be unfair to say “bad habits” have crept in. Which bad habits?!

    The club has made definite and tangible progress; the players are giving their best each time they come unto the pitch; there will be days when we will have games like this one, but that we are top of the table after game week 12 and we have done so from game week 3 is no fluke.

    I know the next thing people would be watching for is to see us begin to drop more points and begin to say “I told you so…”

    Yes, Arsenal is still a WIP but comments like this one should not be quick to surface.

    Maybe in a few months time I will have to eat these words or maybe, in a few months time I will be amongst so many who dared to believe!

  4. Based on our last five games, I believe we won’t be able to finish above Man City. But we’re good enough to finish fourth or win EL

    As for Nketiah, it’s not fair to compare him with Aubameyang. Aubameyang is Chelsea’s main CF for EPL, whereas Nketiah plays mostly in EL where he has to work with less experienced teammates

    I’d like to watch Nketiah and Nelson start the game in Netherlands

    1. Gai,
      Your consistent assertion on 4th place finish for Arsenal doesn’t inspire optimism at all I mean why not 2nd or third and who says 1st is impossible in football. Our boys are not in front by chance.
      However, from my observation of Nelson playing in EL I like his zeal and skill set Hope Arteta starts him against PSV, all we need in the game is a draw. Most of our first 11 needs a break. And unlike what people think these guys are no machines.

      1. Sylva, we haven’t played at most big teams’ stadiums. If our performance doesn’t improve, we’d likely lose there

        As for Nelson, he should’ve been Martinelli’s deputy when Smith-Rowe is injured, instead of Nketiah. Unfortunately, he seems to be leaving Arsenal

  5. The bad habit of becoming complacent and not finding another gear, the inability to finish off teams lower on the table when it matters.

    The fact we get dominated by much lesser teams in the 2nd half, all of which have been happening since our Liverpool win.

    Only a bilnd man living in the proverbial cave would say or think otherwise.

    It takes very little knowledge and common sense to see where Dan is coming from.

    If you can’t see it, maybe you lack it as, unfortunately we all can’t be blessed with it.

    1. Very true what you said.

      Complacency, rather than going for their throat and finish them off.
      We found another gear against Leeds and Liverpool, but I believe they were too tired to take it up a notch.

      Losing momentum and trading punches with a team we are clearly better than; in quality of players and results.

      Xhaka has saved us making runs into the box, because our highly praised attacking front is firing blanks lately.

      It is only a dip over the last couple games, but it now falls to the gaffer to turn it around.
      Rotate players, bench others, tweak the tactics, the approach has to be adjusted to overcome.

      Why some think Jesus is a target man for holdup play is beyond me. Occasionally in a situation, but certainly not in terms of tactical game plans.

      Anyway, it was a point at least, not a total loss. Good game to analyze the failings, adjust, and get a positive result.

  6. Giving Nketiah the reported £100,000 a week contract, will be a millstone around our neck for seasons to come.

    I’m not coming out against the player and / or his abilities, but what must Saka, Martinelli, Salibas and ESR be worth if we use this as a guideline????

    As for judging the rest of the season on Sunday’s result, I give you city’s loss to Liverpool and our result against the latter.

    I believe we need two more top signings in the January window and then I see no reason whatsoever why we can’t compete with city.

    1. Ken I think we are seeing the problem regarding the extension of Nketiah and his wages. Rather than bringing in a plan B striker to tweak the tactics, we offer nothing different upfront with Nketiah.

      A poor man’s Jesus and underwhelming, and we saw an immediate drop when he replaced Martinelli.

      Personally I thought 2 up top would have been better considering the battle Jesus was enduring, but hey I’m not the gaffer. Vieira only got a brief 10 minutes of so, but gosh was he awful.

      Rather have seen Marquinhos subbed in; he is lively if nothing else and willing to run at defenders and could make something happen.

      We needed a spark the last 10 minutes, not a starter to carry us over 90 minutes. Wonder what Marquinhos has to do, considering how poor both Nketiah and Vieira were in the appearance.

    2. Sorry KEN, but basic football sense tells any fan, surely, that we need many more than just two extra players to TRULY compete with the awesome City.

      Their squad is way ahead on depth of talent from any other Prem squad and that is just basic realism. I reckon to truly compete with THEM, we would need at least six minimum and more likely EIGHT more top class players.

      I do think we can already compete with all other Premteams but NOT City!

      1. Sorry Jon, but I don’t agree with your analysis of city as, seemingly, untouchable.

        Liverpool lost out to them by just one point in the PL , after they went further in the CL and FA cup.

        City have still not won the CL, despite the unbelievable amount of money that has been spent.

        Last season, with a weaker team than we have today, we outplayed them at The Emirates and we were so unlucky to lose out in injury team… so why do you think it is impossible to match them this season, as pool did last season?

        I strongly believe that the two signings I suggested will make the squad capable of matching city… if they are of the level that our summer signings were.

        It’s taken me a while to fully back MA, due to inconsistency, but that has changed and I am certain he will match Pep.

  7. A loyal fan makes his genuine feelings known and all some can do is call him names!
    Any Arsenal supporter who is not concerned with the team’s recent performances, particularly in the second half of the games against Leeds and Southampton is living in a fool’s paradise. The levels have definitely fallen in terms of energy and intensity.
    What I expect us to do is to acknowledge the obvious drop in ihe standard of our game, keep supporting our team, and hope that what’s happening now is only a temporary blip rather than a return to old habits

    1. CM, But “hoping” without actual action, achieves nothing at all.

      We need new players and we need them in JAN)ACTUALLY RIGHT NOW, BUT THAT CANNOT HAPPEN).

    2. Having seen Auba twice recently I am delighted he no longer wears an Arsenal shirt for on both occasions he was dreadful.Arteta needs to trust Nketiah because without game time how can be prove his worth to the team?Jesus is clearly in need of a break and surely Nketiah will start against Forest?On the subject of our forwards , the decision to substitute Martinelli against Southampton astounded me as he was by far our most enterprising player on the day.

  8. I find it difficult to agree with the comments. Maybe they come with the upset below-par performance or not timely enough. I sense that we are getting shy of criticizing our untouchables. Yes, I notice diminishing goals hurl from Jesus. It is not difficult to judge that from his attitude of I can go it all by myself, pressure to outshine or overkill the trail of praises, we are seeing playing hogging and dribbling far too much to the detriment of the team as a whole. Pep G ( Manchester City) would not tolerate that. I have seen him react spontaneously at a player during a match. The goals that Xhaka has scored are simply intelligent and surprise strikes. A good plant is pruned to make it more productive and beautiful and fans should be fair and loving to criticize when it is necessary.

  9. Nothing to worry about ,we all know we should have gained the 3 points but unfortunately it was just one of those games ,only criticism from me TBF was the substitutions and the timing of them .
    I do believe though we should be resting players this week ,as the league is more important and i cannot see us finishing out of the top 3 at this moment in time ,which gives us what we all crave for for next season ,to put all our eggs into one basket regarding a knock out competition would be silly .
    We really do have a great crave this season in the league and that is what i personally would like to see us concentrate on .

  10. Didn’t you predict, we would finish outside top 4 before the season?
    Didn’t you predict Auba would score more goals than Jesus when Chelsea bought him?
    At least you have come a long way, when you are trying to revise your predictions to not winning the league and changing Jesus with Nketiah 😉

    1. AndersS, We all make predictions , some of which are bound to be wrong and some right. That is normal and not worth blaming others for, as we ALL do it.

      I have made many wrong predictions, as well as some that came true. So will others. NOTHING WRONG IN THAT.
      I have far more respect for anyone who changes their mind, in the light of evidence, than for someone who sticks stubbornly to the wrong conclusion, AGAINST ALL EVIDENCE.

      My own prime example being Xhaka, about whom I HAVE RELENTLESSLY CRITICISED HIM FOR ALL HIS TIME HERE, until the abundance of evidence that he is now, having been moved forward, playing VERY well.

      So, not being a fool, I have changed my mind.

      1. True.
        But the point is DS was more negative before the season, and I take it, he no longer stands by those predictions.
        All positive, I think.

        1. What’s that got to do with our performance against saints ?
          That’s like saying if we lose to forest I have to be happy because my prediction was we wouldn’t make 4th ?

          1. @Dan Smith
            I am pointing out you obviously have changed your opinion/predictions.
            Before you were negative about Arsenals chances of top 4 and Saying Auba would score more than Auba in your eagerness to slate Arsenal.
            At least you are now trying to slate Arsenal for not being able to win the leagues this year, and as your prediction about Auba over Jesus is now revised to Auba over Nketiah.
            Good for you, you are beginning to see some light.

            1. .. saying Auba would score more than Jesus, was your original prediction. Now changes to Auba scoring more than Nketiah.
              Sorry for the writing Auba more than Auba.

            2. When did I slate us because we can’t win the Prem ?
              Difference is you don’t like anything being said that’s negative

        2. @Anders – If there’s one prediction that’s always right, it’s that Mr Smith will wriggle and squirm around with any old pseudo-logic he can clutch at… anything to try to avoid addressing a fair comment – or even a fair cop.

          I think you’re right, I believe he did predict outside top 4 before the season started and now… looking at his replies to you, he’s just wriggling around as usual, trying to avoid discussing that.

          There’s really no mileage in debating anything with someone like that – there’s no upside.

          1. so I can’t question anything because i thought we would finish 5th?
            therefore anyone who thought we would finish top 4 last season can’t have an opinion

            1. There you go again… wriggle, writhe, squirm…

              And your opinion as to the underlying reasons Arsenal were 5th last season does not become a fact merely because we were actually 5th…

              My opinion of the reasons has nothng to do with “botling it” as you put it, it was simply that the last 3 fixtures had two extremely tough away games at Spurs and Newcastle.

              I could see the improvement in both those teams over the season – iirc both fixtures were re-arranged. If we’d played Newcastle under Bruce I think we would have won easily. Playing Spurs earlier… we’d have a much better chance.

              Also, the re-arranged fixtures led to fixture congestion, tiredness etc. Then there were injuries (often due to playing too much)…

              But you see nothing but “they bottled it”.

              And then you claim that your blinkered opinion is a fact.

              And… anyone could predict we would regress after Wenger left – that’s not rocket science.

              I would also have predicted 5th or 6th early on last season – which would have been progress, European football – and most believe that was in fact the target. Achieving 4th would have been unexpectedly good performance and being in the running for 4th was unexpectedly good performance. Again, no rocket science on display there by your good self.

              I’m not wasting any more time on this – post whatever you like, I won’t be here to read it.

              1. You know just because you put the words wriggle and squirm doesn’t mean anything lol
                You have to prove what have I back tracked on …….I was correct last season ?
                Fact your saying 5th was a good performance makes me sad ….Wenger got hounded out for only finsihing 4th

          2. I also predicted we would mentally bottle or and throw away top 4
            I predicted we finish outside top 4 last season
            I predicted we regress since Wenger left
            So what have I ever had to wriggle and squirm out of …..I was right on each of those
            Hence why you guys are angry
            I was correct last season and you were wrong

            Let’s break down this season
            I said Eddie’s not good enough for Arsenal and won’t score what Auba score ….so far I’m correct
            If we finsih top 4 I said many times will say I was wrong
            But it’s just my prediction mate
            Think people take things too serious
            So don’t see where im squirming

            For example , Gary Neville said Arsenal would finish 5
            Does that mean he can’t now have an opinion on their title chances ?
            If we do fall away ( we will ) and end up in a battle for top 4 and finish 5th , does that mean if your wrong you can’t have an opinion

    2. Anders, I’m surprised that you feel the need to chastise DK for being positive as the season has unfolded.
      This is the kind of mentality that causes division… why not just acknowledge that we are ALL pleasantly surprised at the position we find ourselves in?

      1. Was Anders chastising DK? Or Dan Smith?

        Perhaps it’s the threading, which gets hard to follow when there’s a few replies to one post, but I though he was replying to the latter?

  11. The following is a simple model for anything in life:
    Input > Process > Output

    Consequently, virtually every output we observe or perceive in life is a result of some process and inputs. In this case, it is evident that those who place a greater emphasis on outputs will always face surprises and disappointments. Therefore, it is always more satisfying to invest into the inputs/process and thus make predictions based on such inputs and processes.

    In light of the current state of Arsenal, it is evident that the process (i.e., hard work, dedication, commitment, understanding of the fundamentals of football such as control, passing, and positioning) and inputs (i.e., recruitment of the right personnel, staff/player support, unity of purpose, etc.) are all indicative of metrics that are on the rise. Consequently, it is almost certain to predict that the output (i.e., advancement into the top four and possibly winning a cup trophy) will occur in the soonest future (probably within the next two seasons).

    The points lost at Southampton are not indicative of old habits resurfacing because more than adequate opportunities were created during the game to score (even by a tiring team). This usually signals that after a brief period of rest on Thursday, players will be back up and running again for the weekend.

    I conclude by saying no one can speak with absolute certainty about the future, and any attempt to do so converges on arrogance. Consequently, again based on probability, I believe there is a 70% chance that Arsenal will finish in the top four. And if so, then it is indeed a good season, foretelling of a brighter future!

    Great men see the future when others only see the present… Remain positive!


    1. Exactly.
      We are on the right track and making huge progress overall.
      No team goes through a season without dips in form.
      We just need to keep going, and there is every chance we will take more forward steps.
      Sure, City are favourites, but we are actually making up ground on them for the first time in so many years.

    2. +1

      It would be interesting to see more discussion of “the process” and what it actually involves. I suspect it starts with policies before it defines actual process(es).

    3. Agree.
      And about Nketiah, he has to get his minutes bit by bit. He is a high bet, I agree that we can lose on that bet, but we have to give him time to progress and see how it goes. Balogun will not be ready next year, maybe the next one or later. Hiring an expensive striker will be against the “process” of developing our players. We do need a winger now that can cover both sides. Nelson is a far shot to success, and some minutes will prove that. We need players that will take us to the next level!!

  12. A draw itself isn’t a bad result (City Lost points against Villa in the same manner)……but regardless we realisticlly don’t have the team to challenge for the title maybe in two years time but not now

  13. Well, it’s not possible for a team to be efficient every single game.

    Even the so called almighty Man city has two draws and one loss.

    We have one draw and one loss.

    The draw hurts me and it feels like a loss but, I try to understand we can’t win every game.

    We just have to move on and bag up some 3 points in the next upcoming games.

    Our last 9 EPL matches at St Mary’s Stadium: W3,D2,L4.

    1-1-2015: Southampton 2 – 1 Arsenal L

    26-12-2015: Southampton 4 – 1 Arsenal L

    10-5-2017: Southampton 0 – 2 Arsenal W

    10-12-2017: Southampton 1 – 1 Arsenal D

    16-12-2018: Southampton 3 -2 Arsenal L

    25-6-2020: Southampton 0 – 2 ArsenalW

    26-1-2021: Southampton 1 – 3 Arsenal W

    16-4-2022: Southampton 1 – 0 Arsenal L

    Yesterday: Southampton 1 – 1 Arsenal D

  14. We need 2 top class players (MF/CF preferably)
    to provide cover for Partey and Jesus. Any injuries or
    fatigue can be very costly in the race for top 4
    If we get 2 now and make CL football reality we can
    get a couple world class players put the final pieces together to challenge. I am questioning Artetas logic to replace Martinelli his best player on the pitch Sunday and not Saka . Also starting Tomiyasou ahead of Tierney who is fresh and more attack minded was a mistake. He needs to better manage rotation and tactics.

    Lets stay hopefull and in all honesty this is the best Arsenal team we had in a while. Be happy

    1. Yes they seem the priority positions, I can’t understand the winger talk with Saka and Martinelli as the main men, who already have backup.

      And absolutely agree, the results to date are a pleasant surprise and the performance level in most games has been too.

      There does seem to have been a drop-off lately, but the refereeing does influence how a game is played – a coupld opf early yellow cards for a team that sets out to be “physical” (a euphemism for, essentially, cheating) sets the tone and stops the cheating.

      Too many refs are afraid to do their job, often intimidated by the aggression they face.

        1. Sorry Ken, I wasn’t very clear – on that particular point I meant the players cheating.

          When we see players with their hands all over each others shirts, pulling their arms, blocking with their arms – none of that is actually allowed in the rules.

          But for years we’ve seen referees allowing it – they seem to believe that some amount of it should be allowed, turning refereeing into a subjective thing instead of being clear-cut. And different refs will allow different amounts of it, leading to uneven application of the rules.

          All that does in a way lead to refereeing as a whole “cheating the players and fans” – since the spectacle is less interesting. I watch a lot less football as the years go by because it’s more about strength and speed than skill, which isn’t what I like to watch.

          I watched the Maradona documentary on Amazon a while ago (*not* the rose-tinted one the Argies made) and it was depressing to see the way his unique talent was exploited and damaged by the dirty game in Italy (that’s before even getting into the mafia getting him addicted to drugs and the people running Napoli keepig him playing through pain via injections). A kid with his background just didn’t have the tools to survive that world. I like to think that if he’d come to Arsenal he would’ve been nurtured, protected and developed instead of what he got in Italy, but that’s another story.

  15. Easy win against Forrest and then a true test. The starting 11 is tired, the fullbacks are all wrong and the midfield is not as great as the die hard loyalists believe it to be. Like a good race horse we’ve made a fast start, leaving some of our rivals behind, it’s now important to stay on course over the middle distance and then find the extra burst of speed at the finishing line. My doubts are that Jesus can’t stay the distance, Nketian is not in this league and that injuries could bite hard. On the plus side there is a long break which will hopefully see ESR and Zivchenko back to fitness and the long shot that Arsenal will break with tradition and seriously strengthen the squad mid season.

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