Can Arteta swallow his ego for the best of the club? by Konstantin Mitov
Well lovely Arsenal people. Here we are again, one last straw to hold on to in a disastrous season. There are no two ways about it, we must win on Thursday. Anything but a win that ensures we progress to the final will be inexcusable.
Do we have the players to beat them? Of course we do. Even with the injuries we have, our squad is more than capable of beating Villarreal. It’s about putting the right people in the right positions and giving them some encouragement to go forward.
Arteta tactics often suffocate the squad. So many instructions of where everyone should be, yet there’s never anyone in the box or making runs when you need them. Against Newcastle we saw what a real striker brings.
The “big brain” Pep G-like “false 9” almost cost us the entire tie, but luckily Unai reminded us why we released him, by not going for the throat and allowing us to get back in it and still have a shot.
I don’t like us losing, but the “positive” thing is our task is clear. We need to score goals. One won’t be enough. The days of 1:0 to the Arsenal are long gone and we must score at least 3, because I don’t think we can keep a clean sheet.
It’s time Arteta swallowed his pride and plays the best players in best form regardless of whether he likes them or not. The energy of Martinelli was too much for Newcastle. He makes runs, presses hard, gives 100% and that cross for Auba was hot knife through butter!
We scored that goal, because we were direct and fast. Our usual play is slow and predictable. It’s time we throw pace at the opposition and force them to drop deep and fear the runs.
My managerial experience ends with playing football manager, but if I had to pick the team, I’d put Saka at left back with Martinelli on the left and Pepe on the right. That should terrorize them down the wings and give us enough energy.
Another reason would be to put Xhaka back in midfield next to Partey. I don’t think Xhaka is good enough to take us forward, but he’s the best we’ve got right now and as I said, everyone needs to swallow their pride and do the best for the team.
The defense is a difficult one. Mari and Holding will probably be the 2 CB, but they weren’t great in Spain. Neither was Chambers. Do we try Bellerin? Chambers has put some excellent crosses in recently and if we have bodies in the box, we could use them.
The goalkeeper is a tough one. Leno will probably start, but the signs from him don’t look like he wants to be here next season. Do we try Ryan? Do we stick with the “playing out of the back” mantra we’ve been banging on about so long with no success?
Up front, it’s either Odegaard or Smith-Rowe, not both. It worked nicely against Leeds, but Xhaka worked at left back vs Sheffield and we’ve seen more than once afterwards that it doesn’t.
I think Arteta will not abandon his suicide mission, nor his dislike of Martinelli and I fear he will miss out again. I can also see Xhaka at LB again. Hopefully at least Auba will be up front.
If there is anyone to trust that we will do something this game, it’s the players. We’ve reached a point where results come despite of the manager, not because of him. We need whoever is on that pitch to come together and do it for the fans, the team and even their own careers.
I don’t know if I can survive getting spanked by United in the final like Chelsea, but I still want us to get there. I know we are going nowhere good with Arteta, but if we had an owner and a board who gave one damn about the team, he’d be long gone.
Wether Ek would put in a bid to get us out of our misery I don’t know, and whether the money leeches in the USA would sell is even more unlikely, but in reality we are two games away from the champions league. Surely even Arteta and these set of players understand that. We’ve done it in the FA cup to rescue european football, can we do it in the Europa?
Besides, we’ve only ever won 2 european trophies. Adding a third one will write history. Let’s prolong the season by one more game, we can do it.