Arteta fills me with dread but I must applaud his efforts at rebuilding Arsenal

My personal Arteta conundrum. by Ben Dungate
At what point did Arteta become synonymous with Arsenal? He was a good midfielder for Everton but a poor replacement for Cesc. It is probably this that tainted my opinion of him from the start.
I watch Arsenal matches with morbid fascination, gazing on as he stalks the touchline, eyes wide, the terror behind them barely concealable. Will we jump into a 3 goal lead, only to then spend the rest of the game struggling to hold them off. He makes bizarre selection choices, demonstrates limited tactical awareness, and fills me with dread every time.
Despite this, I cannot fault what appears to be his vision for the club. Wanting the right types of people at the club, not just the right names. Giving young players a chance and trying to build a foundation for the future. And it leaves long-term cynics like me tearing my hair out on match day but applauding him for his effort.
For the record I think Emery is a superior coach should’ve been given far more time in the role, but here we are now. And whilst Arteta frustrates me every single match day, he seems to want to bring stability and harmony to the club and will not tolerate anyone that doesn’t buy into the plan or is a disruptive influence (Guendouzi). And you have to applaud him for this.
I also have to remind myself, he’s younger than me and one of the youngest managers in the league and presumably will only improve as a coach and as a man manager. With this in mind, I think we have to remain positive and hopeful for the future.
But this is Arsenal.


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  1. u have a very weird way of sharing ur opinion, emery is superior, Arteta is a bad midfielder, u are older than Arteta.
    Man learn how to separate ur emotions from an article

    1. I am surprised some wanting best writing from fans opinion articles. Most are not professional writers.

      Just getting what he is saying is enough in opinion articles I think.

      1. People complaining about arteta , pls which manager do you have in mind that will come and do better than arteta now and will not destroy the foundation he has created?

        1. Why must someone “destroy the foundation he created?”

          Didn’t Tuchel take Lampard’s squad and win the CL? No need to destroy a good squad, Didn’t hear Tuchel demand an overhaul.

          Didn’t he also finish 3rd with virtually the same squad (Lukaku aside) behind the 2 juggernauts City and Pool?

          Please dispense with this fear tactic myth that another manager will start from scratch.

          Do you really believe Kroenke and the board after already spending nearly 350 million and counting, will start all over with a new manager and new squad?

          Please engage your reason and logic, we are not Utd after all.

    2. May be it’s just me but having read about a million articles on sport in my life I can honestly say all of those articles were full of emotion. Sport and emotion to me are one and the same

    3. @Savage
      Ben’s writing is perfectly clear and concise. If you don’t agree with his opinion that is another thing completely.

      I don’t think I’ve seen any articles with your name at the bottom have I?

      1. Ad-pat u always come with this phrase everytime someone criticise ur boys. Sorry I don’t write articles for free

        1. My boys!!! Lol
          And it looks to me that you don’t write articles for money either so I’m not surprised.
          To be a true critic you need to be better than the writer..

          1. Anyone who writes an article put their opinion out there is OK by me. However, the opinion is out there to be debated by anyone, regardless of their credentials.

        2. I’ll give you tuppence for your thoughts mate – that’s will be paying over the odds as well… not unusual for anything connected with our club though!!

    4. Really, why don’t you write your own article? I find this out very informative from a person who is a good arsenal fan and keen observer. I too hope Arteta can grow and learn more as a manager we are heading in the right direction.

  2. I thought that was well said.

    There has to be huge acknowledgement for how he’s put the club first. He’s actually made life harder for himself by going after the trouble makers and big names, because he knew the club needed to rebuild from the ground up, and with the right attitude and determination.

    Just look at the mess at Utd – that was Arsenal when Arteta joined. If he goes tomorrow, he’s left us in such a better position in regards to culture and stability.

    I agree that Emery is the better manager, but wasn’t backed by the board. Arteta has been the better fit for Arsenal because of his unique insight into our problems, having played for us during the regressive years.

    That said, we cannot praise him forever for the sterling work off the pitch, and ignore the results. There has been slow, steady progress, but we really need to kick on now. Like the writer says, Arteta can make some baffling decisions, we do see some dull football at times, but I do think he’s slowly improving.

    1. Though to be fair, beat Newcastle and every article on here is so much different. Fine margins we missed out on Top4, due to our own faults but we learn, move on and keep building for the upcoming season. I’m not over enthusiastic about our chances this season but will see what happens.

      Never know we may surprise a few like last season but with last years players all now with another season together under their belt.

      1. Those players do now have a season together under their belts. Let’s hope there is a good understanding this season

    2. Jonbo
      Excellent comment and spot on. Great brief summary of Arteta, and your conclusion is one all should agree with.

      Questionable decisions at times, dull football far too often, but 8th to 5th is improvement.

      This year Arteta must show he has learned and is able to adapt. Our play must evolve and improve, and he has to find consistency This year.

      A regression in play or results must result in hard choices. A good squad is taking shape; talented young players who are improving together. Arteta must lead them this year, or be replaced by someone who can.

      3 1/2 years is adequate and fair to assess his capabilities and decide if he is the manager to continue.

      1. @Durand

        Yes, spot on. Arteta needed time, funds, and backing from the club to truly implement changes, which he has been given.

        Now Arteta needs to take us to the next level, and things are looking good with the squad at the moment, and we still have almost 2 months to bring more players in.

  3. I’m just concerned with his preference in collecting diminutive highly technical attackers and midfielders, which reminds me of Wenger’s

    Antonio Conte and Patrick Vieira seem to have opposite preferences, but let’s see whose concept works better before World Cup starts

    1. Nice saying GAI
      We need more steel and I believe that will be the next chapter. A combination of steel and flair could fit us nicely 😉

      1. Thanks bro

        We’ve got Partey and Magalhaes in our spine. But the most important part of the spine, which the CF position, might be better rotated by Jesus and a Giroud-like attacker

        1. I agree, we can’t have it all but let’s hope he will add more strength as well. I want us to be unpredictable and difficult to play against.

        2. Lukaku is a physically adept player, he has played in 3different epl team, 2 of which were big clubs, he was a failure in both big clubs. That, is to say epl CF is changing I understand your idea of plan B, but City, despite not having target men still score lots of goals with both feet and head. The quality of midfield is what gives attack assurance

          1. You are right, but even a brick-wall has a better first touch than Lukaku 😉 In Italy he got more time on the ball and his weaknesses are more camouflaged.

          2. Lukaku was one of the best CFs in World Cup, so I was really surprised when he fell out with Tuchel

            As for Man City, they have a much better and more stable system. Ours is still unstable, so we need to be a bit pragmatic as Wenger did with Giroud

    2. He bought Partey and Gabriel. That’s steel imo.
      I would have love Bissoum to be understudy to Partey who is turning 30 soon but I guess that’s not our priority atm according to Arteta.
      I don’t really like coaches like Conte and Mourinho, their pattern or play is too rigorous and isn’t sustainable in a long term. It might work out in 1/2 urs but the players become exhausted as time goes on

      1. I also don’t like Conte’s and Mourinho’s football styles. Partey would most likely get some injuries due to the number of upcoming games, so we need Elneny and Lokonga to improve their performances

  4. I agree with you Emery could have been a great appointment for Arsenal, but he wasn’t and he lost the dressing room.

    Arteta isn’t perfect but he has sorted out the mess and reestablished an environment for elite sport culture, which I believe have been crucial.

    I’m supporting Arsenal FC, our players and manager, and from my point of view he got a hell of the job in November 2019.

    During the last 1,5 years most parameters shows a positive trend and I believe our future looks bright. COYG 🔴⚪️

    1. DP
      I’m with you on the positivity front. Especially as the season hasn’t started yet.

  5. Arteta is a tough nut so no I don’t have any concerns about him. He has been through a harsh learning curve what with Covid, empty stadiums and weighed down by a slew of underperformers. Now Covid is fading, the crowds are back, more new players, most of the deadwood gone. 9 starters and 4-5 on the bench will be Arteta’s players. The League will be tougher but Chelsea Man U and Spurs are expected to make top 4 where as Arteta is only expected to make top 6. It’s a small but significant advantage we have. So yes 5th/6th is the goal any thing else is a bonus. Next season is when I expect top 4.

    1. @fairfan
      I appreciate your thoughts and perspective, not many here seems to understand how bad and negative it has been.

  6. Emery is far more experience, he was a scapegoat of a rotten system, just like Wenger.
    Arteta is smart to start a rebuilding job, that’s why he is able to win the fan base. His strength might be his doom, as we all are now won over, with a new reliable players and good player recruitment, he has no more excuses but to win, this season is when he show us how capable he is.
    I hope they give us a marquee signing preferably a winger.

  7. A puzzling and rather too brief article, which shows muddled thinking, IMO.
    The writer admits to personal bias, based on MA’s playing career here. I see lots of top managers across the globe and in thr PREM, WHOSE PLAYING CREDENTIALS WERE FAR LESS THAN THOSE OF MA.

    So I cannot understand the “thinking ” behind this comment. I believe in separating personal emotionand bias, from reasoned thinking, esp when being a writer who needs to marshal your thoughts and make out a case for them. And not to muddle what you are trying to say, instead!

    However , in puzzling fashion the writer, having admitted “DREAD” , then proceeds to praise the direction MA is taking the club.

    Now, I applaud anyone trying to see the full picture and I see the writer has , perhaps(as I cannot be sure), tried to see what he considers the full picture. But to me his article is muddled and shows confused thinking.

    I do not see HOW one can sensibly “dread” what you also applaud. That is the bottom line, IMO!

    On the other hand, this writer has a way of using words that makes one sit up and admire his use of language.

    It is however, WHAT he tries to argue, when facing both ways AT ONCE, that lets down this piece.

      1. PAT, Not simultaneously, IMO! THAT IS MY POINT.

        Though , over TIME, I firmly agree that BOTH good and bad usually happens.

        But “dreading” something you “applaud” is, I confess, not an experience I have ever had and do not accept it is even possible, IN REALITY!

        BUT, Ben has writing ability and whenever he sorts out what his thoughts truly ARE, he will become a contributor of note, IMO!

    1. Hello Mr Fox, nice to read your opinions. Not everyone has your capability with words 👍👍

      1. Didrik, You are too kind . I would add that a way with words is, in many aspects of life ,far less important than having a respected trade to make a living by.

        Journalism and writing are trades but so are plumbing, farming, nursing, car mechanics and MANY other trades, all of which I have not the first idea about. So each to their own, I say!

        1. Sure, we need them all, it’s what’s building a robust society (democracy). I have very much respect for people doing their best every day.

  8. It is said brave men die young, the gaffer is certainly bold.

    The board didn’t want to sack Emery, it was mostly out of sympathy he was removed and limit embarrassment to his reputation, I too think Emery was a very good coach.

    If Emery had half the venom the gaffer has Arsenal no doubt would be some where between the top two today.

  9. Emery is a far better coach than Arteta, he bloodied his nose in the EL semi, with an inferior team. He has won far more than Arteta, been in the game longer but couldn’t master English. Arteta has to step up massively this next season, it is in my view that he will fail to get top 4 again because all the managers above him are far more experienced and i cant see how he can step up. I have grave doubts as to the direction we are going in but i will say this (like i have the last two seasons) prove me wrong. He hasn’t yet but i will be happy if he ever does. We seem to be assembling a squad to win the EL, not the premier league. It is very lightweight, i like a bruiser in midfield and a bit of size up front, we have nothing of the sort. Like i say, prove me wrong.

    1. Agree. We need a midfield winner. (Martinez)? Definitely a tall CF. Gotta mix it up some with the balls Tierney delivers. (Scamacca)? Another possibility (onano) ? 6’5″ box to box midfielder. Free kicks,Goal kicks & corners big danger & a big target. Not sure I spelt it right but you know who I mean.

    2. Yes, Emery is a great coach especially in Spain. He wasn’t a great Arsenal coach ignoring our dysfunctional dressing room culture, which finally got him sacked.

      Not sorting out the mess was probably his biggest mistake, and definitely part of his job. Sorting out the mess was much more important than being outplayed by Chelsea in Aserbajdsjan.

      1. And all that explains what? You are quick to sully others but ignore the truth on your own door step Dydrik.

  10. i must admit i really liked reading this fine article. different from the usual run of the mill stuff, fresh and intresting.there is something alive about the article too,well done to the author.

  11. Aeteta was not a like for like replacement for cesc, he was just a different direction, like when I replaced soda with cranwater, or when I replaced KFC with my own restaurant’s chicken. It’s different, but has it’s own strengths.

    His vision for the team was evident from minute one, he doesn’t want a starting 11, he hates the idea, he wants a starting 25, so he can play anyone on the day. He wants to strip players of their power over the club, he wants power to rest with him, then he can say he is responsible for the results. He will not do football with players tu cover other players, he wants everyone capable of starting without weakening the team.

    He doesn’t want a situation where players are dictating strategy, he is arteta, he is an agent of change for arsenal.

    1. Richard, enjoyed reading your comments, but how is Mikel different from any other manager in his desire to achieve his vision?
      As for not wanting just eleven players, I wish that he had borne that in mind in January, along with giving players a break and utilising others.

      He is certainly bringing in a lot of new players and I’m looking forward to seeing what his style of play will be – both plan A and plan B…. interesting times ahead for sure

  12. You can have a manager who is good at building a squad, you can have one who is tactically astute, If you are really lucky you might get both but they are different skills. I’d tend to agree the question mark is over Arteta’s tactical skills but right now I would think squad building takes priority. Of course once you’ve built a decent squad the priority changes. I’ve compared Arteta to Pochettino before and he built a decent squad but couldn’t then turn it into a winning one. Arsenal aren’t there yet though, it’s still the building phase.

  13. Let’s not just hurry because he lacks tactical skills , remember this is his first job and for me he has grown alot . So if we are to axe him , we need a right choice like Liverpool from Brendan to Jurgen. And Liverpool still needed time though

  14. I thoroughly enjoyed your article, Ben. Regardless of whether readers agree with specific points or not, it summed up the contradictions in all of us regarding supporting any football team, put perhaps even more so following Arsenal over the last few years. We all see things we like and things we don’t, thinks that make us emotional and others that we don’t care about one way or the other. And of course our opinions change over time. Your piece summed up the ebb and flow of my own thoughts on Arteta perfectly. Thanks for putting yourself out there.

  15. Probably the worst thing I’ve ever read on here and believe me, that’s saying something. Complete and utter pomposity. WTF do you find these morons?

  16. Emery was a better coach but failed to get a grip of the dressing room, I don’t know how that makes him a better coach. Giving him more time like the writer said would have relegated us, there was no chance of giving him a longer time because it would mean playing in the championship.

    1. If you believe that Emery is not a good coach then how did he manage to win the Europa League in his first season back at Villarreal and guide the club to a Champions League semi-final run in the following season, beating Juventus and Bayern Munich on the way. Of course you could say that Villarreal are a better side than Arsenal and any manager having that squad would have achieved the same result. Emery is a good coach give credit where it is due.

      1. But the latter part of your post can’t possibly be true patH, because Jonbo tells us above,, that when Mikel arrived we were in a bigger mess than manure are today….. omitting the fact that we had just contested a European final and semi final and finished 5th and 6th.
        Ah well, history and facts never seem to matter for some folks.

      2. Path

        And the part that people forgot to say is that, Arteta was supported by the board to build a young team and create a new culture.

        Emery was not afforded the luxury.
        He wasn’t supported by the board when he benched Ozil.

        Arteta wants Tomiyasu, Partey, White, Jesus etc and got all.

        Emery want Zaha, Partey and some players and got nothing.

        How can a coach that is not supported by the board eradicate a culture?

        Do you think Arteta will even make Top 8 if he was in Emery’s position without any support?

    2. I tend to agree with you. Emery’s second season until his sacking was a downward spiral. Good coach or not in another league, it became dire at Arsenal. The players must shoulder responsibility for their lack of respect, but so should Emery for not being strong enough to command his position.

      1. Suep

        Do you believe Emery will be in that position had the board support him the way Arteta is been supported now?

        None of the players Emery used was his players.
        All players was forced on him and when he benches one of them, the heat comes up.

        He went through hell because the board refuse to listen to him and back him up.

        I’m only disappointed because he didn’t work out on them and thinking he can mend it.

        Though most coaches don’t work out on jobs nowadays because of the money involved.

        I believe Arteta won’t even make Top 10 with that kind of board around Emery

  17. We shouldn’t judge a persons playing career compared to his coaching potential. Look at Ferguson and Moreno. Not that Arteta’s was on the same low player level. This is the season that will make or break Arteta, I for one are 100% behind him.

  18. We should remain positive, no doubting that but at the same time, I hope MA has learnt a lot vis a vis the Saliba case wherein the lad was not given any opportunity to prove himself but showed his potential by defending against the worlds best attackers in PSG. That said, I still think MA is on the right track and if we get another decent midfielder and a LB we are good to go next season.

  19. I feel a greater affinity to this Arsenal than the Arsenal of Nasri, Özil, van Persie or even Fabregas. Sanchez maybe also.

    Why? Because I feel the players have the same affinnity. This does not seem like a team of also-rans who came for money or fame alone, and who would leave again for the same, but rather it seems like a team of believers. They see the project. I see it too. Now even Ben sees it. And it is VERY Arsenal at heart, with focus on youth and flair.

    I like it a lot. And yes Mikel fails, but so did Wenger, especially as his experience grew some might argue. He is smart and he is u compromising and he does not seem prone to favouritism which I really really like.

    I must say, though, the test here will be his utilization of Nketiah. The more I think of it, the more I really feel we’ve let that boy down. Such a talent but never used. If we next season can see Jesus and Nketiah flourishing and we also finally get back into CL, Mikel will have completely won me over.

    I am just saying – I like the team. It feels like my team. And that actually means a lot more than just getting into CL…

    Just my opinion.

  20. About Arsenal’s supposed progress, Arsenal was in the European places in the season before Arteta arrived. He shared in an 8th place finish and then he finished 8th place yet again. From then to now, he brought us back up to the Europa League places, where Arsenal was in the season before he arrived. The progress is not for Arsenal -The progress is for Arteta the manager. There are other bearings to ponder when speaking of progress, some might say ..slimming the squad down to open up places for next-gen players to hopefully flourish in, could be deemed as progress. Or how our defenders are not making the glaring mistakes that some of the old-guard tended to give away, you know, those suicidal type errors that ran your nerves ragged whenever the ball was approaching our box.

    I am going by out and out progress on the leaderboard. That is why next season I am not looking at the points difference between Arsenal and fourth place. I’m looking beyond that, closing down the gap from us to the top of the table, that is where my judgment will lay. If we can cut that gap to a noticeable difference well then the CL will follow. I hope Arteta is looking beyond fourth place also, and good luck lads.

  21. I just don’t appreciate the negativity about Ateta, when IMO there’s nothing to be negative about.
    Hopefully it all goes to plan.

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