Arteta is smiling but Arsenal fans got a reality check

A Great Poor Performance by Dan Smith

If there was such a thing as a great poor performance, it was on Saturday Night against West Ham.
That’s why our manager was punching the air at the full-time whistle, ironically something he wouldn’t have done had we won by a more comfortable score line.

That’s why I like Arteta. He’s always thinking, always seeing the bigger picture. Having been mentored by Pep Guardiola he’s aware that mentality is so crucial in sport.

He wasn’t celebrating the three points; he knew that this was another massive physiological step for his young squad. Next time they find themselves not playing well, they can use this experience to help them get over the line.

Unlike some of our fanbase, I don’t think the Spaniard is worrying about a title challenge this season. He admitted after we beat Liverpool at the end of last season that the gap between the two clubs is “enormous” and “It will take time but we can create something”. That was two months ago……I think our coach meant more time than that.

He’s smart enough to know that as good as the FA Cup Win was, winning a one-off match and signing Willian and Gabriel isn’t going to be enough to close a 43-point difference between us and the Champions. Especially when Jurgen Klopp has added Thiago and Jota, Chelsea have spent over 200 million and even the likes of Spurs have managed to bring back Gareth Bale.

I have spent preseason listening to some Gooners either being arrogant or deluded. I been called names for questioning ‘Why Arsenal Can win the title’; ‘Why we can lift the Champions League In 3 three years’; ‘Arteta has proved he’s better then Arsene Wenger’; ‘Net Spend is not important’ and my personal favourite, ‘Maitland-Niles is better than Kante (still yet to break into our midfield).

There’s no righst and wrongs but I’m hoping some of fellow fans looked at that performance and realised talk of a title bid is premature, and we need take little steps. I say that because I like Arteta. I think we have someone special in our dugout and want him to be allowed to do his job without the pressure of unrealistic expectations.

If you said we will finish 5th I wouldn’t panic as it is progress. Yet if we have got supporters out there who are already planning a European Cup Final in three years (let’s qualify first) then we are needlessly going to have fans moaning in May.

So I hope this weekend was a reality check for some. It shouldn’t be a shock that we were inconsistent as that’s where we are currently at.

If you finish 8th, it tends to mean you are good some weeks, but terrible in other weeks. If Spurs finished 8th but won a Cup, then spent a net of 6 million would you honestly say that means they will now win the title when 6 of the sides who finished above you have spent more?

That’s why you couldn’t wipe the smile off our bosses face in his post-match interviews. You see, us fans can get carried away, but we have zero bearing on results (especially while we are not allowed inside stadiums) but he can’t afford his players to listen to the hype.

Since lifting the Cup at Wembley there’s been a lot of positivity that, in the world of social media, players are aware of. The Hammers offered a timely reminder that we are still not good enough to be complacent. Yet for a manager there is nothing better than your dressing room learning from mistakes yet still being able to win in the process.

Arteta will love the idea that he observed 90 minutes where he learnt more about those on the pitch while still persevering a winning start to the campaign. He will be aware that defensively we bullied at times. He might be concerned that without competition, Leno looked ropey and, on another day, could have paid badly for his decision making.

Kolasinac wouldn’t have changed his mind that if we can get him off the wage bill we should. Without Eddie’s goal we would have been again bemoaning a lack of creativity, which is why I still believe that Ozil should be an option off the bench ahead of say a Joe Willock.

This time last week we beat Fulham 3-0 and spent the next 7 days maybe getting a little carried away.

We were below par this weekend in a 2-1 win over West Ham and now maybe realise we still have things to learn before we are in the conversation for contenders to Liverpool.

Just let us crawl before we walk. Just give us time to settle because we are improving and learning all the time.

Why do you think Arteta was smiling so much?

Dan Smith


  1. Dan, You know me , I say it as it is and as you rightly say, one of my constant frustrations , since it heaps unnecessary pressure on our team , is the self deluded ones who think we are far better than we are. Sensible fans can easily see, as you rightly say , that under MA we are making huge and steady progess. But that is from a very low base which he had to inherit. That fact has not dawned on the less bright fans onhere and of which,sadly, ALL clubs have.

    In society there has always been thinkers who think ahead and also those who overreact to a a first dawningof prigess and hail it , stupidly, as a great triumph and that we are already top class. Needles to say, I am among thr thinkers. Some wilL call me arrogant for saying this but I do not care, as I will always HELP our club, not hinder it, by speaking truth and not silly unrealistic lies.

    We all know the names of those who are unrealistic dreamers on here and of course I will not name them. But they do so much harm to our club with their deluded dreaming ,I therefore applaud your own personal realism of exactly where our clubIS and where it is NOT, as yet. Progess takes time. Idiots will not accept that , but wise fans will.

    1. I do not think anyone can say Arsenal at the moment are brilliant and at their best !! but under Arteta they are a team, a team that tries and fights for the badge without doubt.Yes we didnt have the best game but as i said i my previous comment its only the 2nd game in a long hard season. To make assumptions on one game is ludicrous and it being the 2nd game is ridiculous. What this game showed was we had players that were still finding their feet in the side and their match fitness. It also showed that even when we are up against it.As we were in the second half against a West Ham side that factually turned up as they always do against us we managed to dig in and get the win. Winning when you are not playing well is a great thing to have in a team. Even liverpool last year did the same and City before them and so on. It is a mark of a good side.The reality for me and many other people that know their football and have managed at a high level. Is it was our second game and we managed to get a win.In years gone by we would not have even got a point in this sort of game.That for me was a good no a great result and shows the massive improvement Arteta has made to the team and the attitude of the players and club.Regards to the players themselves well done for digging in and not giving up til the very last minute. Other things that stood out was Ceballos he looked out of sorts and showed we need to be playing Elneny with Xhaka more often until we manage to buy Partey or another Strong defensive midfielder. Ceballos struggled and looked just average in that game. Elneny proved he has something to offer the club in his performance last week. Energy and tackling and covering our back four without leaving holes. Ceballos was strong didn’t really have the energy and defo didn’t tackle like we needed. Our midfield struggled and as i know you win games in the middle of the park by controlling it. Ok it was ceballos’s first game but wasnt an impressive game for him at all.The same coudl be said about Koslasinac he was awful and struggled all game. I personally believe that Tierney and Elneny were sadly missed Yesterday and for west hams goal if Tierney had been on the park they wouldnt have got that goal. If Elneny had been on the park our midfield would have been much much much stronger and we would of been able to dictate the game.Saka struggled and it wasnt his best game. Do not get me wrong i was never a lover of Elneny but if all fairness he has improved ten fold from his loan and for me deserves to be starting with Xhaka. Like i said until we get another defensive midfielder. I say you can only start to judge a team or manager after the 9th game of the season until then players are still working to get their match sharpness and fitness !! COYG’s

    2. Are the abuses and namex calling of the Arsenal fans who in their wishes want our beloved Arsenal Football club win the Premier League title this season not too much?

  2. Reality check ?? second game of a long hard season and this is suppose to be a reality check ? in what terms? Reality that it is just the second game and that we were playing a London derby and West ham like they have always done turn up to try and best us? well yes that is reality that is called the premier league but for only our 2nd game no one can make assumptions from that and if they do then more fool them. Yes the second half wasnt our finest 45 mins and we made some mistakes. BUT you only have to look at the UTD game to see these things happen early on in seasons. But the reality is we won against a determined West ham side in our 2 nd game !! get a grip please !!

    1. The reality was plain to see. Same mistakes were being made and the same culprits we know who are not at the standard to take this team forward. I could mention names like Xhaka, Kolasinac and Holding for example, but I wont 😉 . We need a stronger midfield for sure. We lack creativity. The shots on target stats were reminiscent of our previous seasons stats and we all know that has to change if you want to be in the top six. Otherwise, are we really making progress or are we just simply doing enough to survive another game at the bare least? Yes I see forward momentum. But I’m still far from convinced that this season will be much more different than last. For now..

      1. The reason we had few shots on target is because of our sideways and backwards passes. There is no player to link our defense with the attackers. I’m rewatching the game and I could see Gabriel receiving more passes than all our forwards put together.

        1. “There is no player to link our defense with the attackers. I’m rewatching the game and I could see Gabriel receiving more passes than all our forwards put together.”

          You mean the players being used we not linking. Imagine a James now at Everton, instead of Pepe?

          Auba, Ozil playing with Willian now, all behind Laca?

          It is who we buy, and who we have that we play.

    2. Reality check is not making mistakes that can cost u 3 points! Ask Mancity this last season. We have loads of improvement to work on and MA needs the players he craves for. Once they arrive,rest in left to him & us the Fan base supporting them all. Baby steps please

      1. Fans thought Arsenal r far superior than West ham. Yestrd most were predicting 4-0, 5-0 win for Arsenal. Now we r happy we grind out the result. Arsenal team must ve realized they were no better than westham n immediate improvement is needed if we want result in consistent basis.

        1. Only the unfortunate small percent of nonrealistic fans were predicting as you wrote. The rest of us realists knew it would be a hard fought London derby , as most derbys are.

    3. Reality check as in way too early to say current squad is ready to be called title winners
      We will only know come May

  3. I have always said 5th and winning EL would be a great season, anything else better would be a massive surprise. Some of our “key” players are not good enough or consistent enough. We are not title challengers, nowhere near. Tierney, Auba, Saka and Ceballos are the only consistent performers, the rest have question marks against them for various reasons.

  4. A good team would have murdered us yesterday and that wasn’t because we have bad squad but because the way we play. Whoever is responsible for Xhaka and Cebellos passing sideways or backwards when our attackers were providing outlets upfront to receive passes should wake the f**k up. I counted like 10 times that happened yesterday in firsthalf alone. And the misplace passes oh God help it that was against better team. We have a better team than that atrocious display yesterday. They way we defended for their goals was pure comedy. The sweet things about yesterday game were the 3points, Laca and Gabriel performance.

    1. “Whoever is responsible for Xhaka and Cebellos passing sideways or backwards when our attackers were providing outlets upfront to receive passes should wake the f**k up.”

      Now that is saying it like it is. Cabellos is no Ozil. Of the current group only Ozil can use Auba, Laca and Willian.

      The problem with Laca is that he is not the other French player we let go to Chelsea. Without Giroud the aerial threat is missing, even if Laca scored a header. We need another #9 tall enough to dominate the ball in the air and also able to hold up the ball. Ozil is a 3D player and without a Giroud the German’s play-making is only a 2/3 enabled.

  5. Sadly I have to agree with this summing up of the current situation. I do think Arteta still makes some selection mistakes. When Tierney got injured why on earth did he pick the hopeless Kolasinac when Maitland-Niles was available. Elneny was our best midfielder last week but no appearance. I do think we have let the better goalkeeper Martinez leave; the shaky Leno showed this. Hopefully, we complete the signing of Partey and/or Aouar to put right the obvious deficiencies in midfield. I am a bit more optimistic than Dan, but not too much more

  6. Some good points made.

    But dont you all feel a little confident facing liverpool next week?Would you have felt the same under emery or freddie.Not saying they are bad managers but pointing out that MA has improved Arsenal and there is so much more to come

    Thats why i trust MA.
    Yesterday tbh west ham shouldve got atleast a point,thats how poor the performance was.

    Willian was great in linking up but coukd not open defence thats the issue with 343 against buses.

    But when you look at xhakas performance in the second half u see how MA tried to counter it.Make line bteaking runs(Aubas strengtg) and long balls will find you.Thats why i also think david luiz should be back soon.

    But this sure cant be a long term plan.The main issue i find is tge formation….even westhams 1st goal is because of our formatioms weakness but against liverpool this could be very affective.Surely MA knows better.

    And i think emi left because he didnt want to compete against leno,simple.MA dont prefer players.He chhoses them on training and performance.

    1. No sir respectfully Martinez could not be guaranteed premier league game time as no manager will rotate their first team goal keeper. This was Martinez best chance of a successful future he made a smart move.

  7. Play awful and get away with a win, that is a characteristic of Champions but only if it’s Man City or Liverpool winning that way.

    I have decided to look it as West Ham played well and had good organization but they just were against a far more capable team. Had it been our fellow title contenders, they would’ve lost that game.

    2 games 6 points, and it’s 3 games 7 points or 9 after next weekend.

    1. No because title challengers do that consistently
      Because you win one game playing bad doesn’t make us title challengers
      As I write this Spurs just equalised having been terrible all half
      Does that make them champion contenders ?

      1. One thing that we agree is Arsenal has got better comparing to last season. It is one game playing bad and win I agree but it also only a second game of the season. Who is to say that we won’t do it consistently?

        If you are judging Arsenal by last season’s results remember that this is a sort of game we might have surely lost.

        It may be too early for us the deluded ones to dream of success, but it is also too early for you the reality ones to write us off.

        As of now the scale is on the success side so lets wait and see how it will unfold, 3 points at a time.

        1. HH, So glad you admit the truth in that you belong to the percent of fans who are deluded ones. In THAT respect, you are not deluded, as you indeed DO belong to that percentage of Gooners who are unrealistic dreamers. Realism is not about “writing us off” or about any othe one thing . It is about being truthful with ones hopes and thoughts and not letting biased fantasies run away with your mind.

          1. What is reality and what is fantasy? As of this writing Arsenal have started league well with 100% winning percentage. Something which we have been unable to do for a number of seasons.

            Is the squad strength measured by looking and deep thinking or by results? We finished the season well and have started where we left off.

            1. For the life of me, I can’t understand why it’s in vogue to criticise supporters for being optimistic. Good on you HH for embracing “delusion-ism”. I’m sure your level-headed enough to accept that Arsenal might not go through the season undefeated. In the meantime, what’s the point of watching if we see the glass as always half empty.

              1. I was Arteta doubter, clung to our table position and downplayed the FA victory. Some people kept on singing the improvements where I didn’t see any but their persistent on that point made me change my thinking and I saw something which at last convinced me we are on the right track.

            2. HH, REALITY IS CLEARLY BEING REAL WITH YOUR THOUGHTS AND NOT FANTASISING WITH FALSE HOPES. As for fantasy, perhaps you are better qualified to tell ME what THAT is. I never use fantasy personally and do not understand those who, sadly for themselves, do use it!

                1. And what you write is precisely what fantasists will agree with. Realists know that two wins against sides likely to either go down or fight relegation mean little over a full season. Yes ,six points is good but means little until we do this against top sides . Reality tells us that is unlikely. FANTASY WOULD DO THE OPPOSITE.

  8. The issue arsenal have go beyond the time of which unai was here. The issues are only now being resolved and that will take time.

    Saying that unai first season saw us achieve a position just outside the top4. Our squad has improved and so has the league so there is no given about top 4 and honours but

    arsenal just need to keep fighting and the fans keep supporting their endeavours.

    We cant get success overnight. Life doesnt work like this for anyone. Whether you throw money, bodies or luck at it, it takes hard work!!

  9. Westham played to frustrate us and they did just at for a long period of time ND I know we’ll employ same tactics against pool

  10. Reality check in a sense I can agree with but its not really a reality check when 90% of us on here know where we actually are in terms of winning titles etc. . And that’s miles away.

    I said on here yesterday we can maybe challenge for Top4 with this squad but not guaranteed at all but with Partey & Aouer we could be a different animal.

    Now in terms of Arteta he made wrong choices yday. Ozil was perfect for this game but still doesnt play and we did not have a plan b once Teirney got injured as Kolasnic has 1 foot out the door and Xhaka just had a a bad game tbh. The 3 at the back we cant utilise properly yet but we will…

    Stan needs to lend the Club £100m that then can be paid back once sales are gone in the likes of Papa, Kolasnic, Torreira & Guendouzi.

    We just got £17m for Martinez.
    If we have all them in agreement with other clubs to go then stan can pull the trigger on Partey & Aouer.

    Hes a business man, get a return on your investment.. UCL football at the Emirates will do that again along with support from the gunners faithful for the 1st time in his reign. Cmon Stan

    1. Wouldnt hold my breath on Kroenke investment unfortunately bud, even though he pumped 1.6 BILLION dollars into the NFL rams new stadium, if he was going to spend on us he would have already.

  11. Watching Xakha and Ceballos in the first half was like being tortured. Xhaka for the first 30 min was the worst I have seen for ages. If we don’t get Aoaur and Partey, we will be 8th again. Nothing wrong with the defence but the midfield is embarrasing.

    1. AGREE, in the second half, I thought it’s time to include Elneny next to Xhaka .. give more space for Ceballos in front .. make Saka move freely from right to left. Guess what, when Ceballos had the chance to be more forward, he created a great chance with Saka and we scored!

  12. Once our mid-field and defense starts passing the ball slowly. I know it’s not going to be a good game. The important thing is that this team looks a bit more resiliant and harder to beat. Reality check or not. The common undiniable fact is that there is progress.

  13. I said it before, we need to be more realistic in our expectations, we won’t be able to win the PL but we should compete and most importantly to qualify to CL.
    Winning more CUPS/TITLES will keep our players thirsty for winning more in the future.

    As for now, I agree with you that we lack creativity hence we can’t score, although we have top-league scorers in our team. Benching Ozil may be the solution for now, and I hope Pepe can be included more in the future games. Yesterday he was trying to push forward in everytime he had the ball.

    A huge mistake in my opinion that should be resolved before facing the top 4 teams, is our difference, I can’t imagine Holding and Gabriel playing together against them and being able to stop the “lethal” scorers! But at the same time, we should remind ourselves that we don’t have enough – ready defenders on the bench.

    Why Arteta is smiling?
    I think because he knows what he is doing! =)

  14. i think last year we would have not won a physical match like this. but we did. so it is progress.

    today the main problem was that we were not solid in the back 3. Kola is not good at this role. it’s as simple as that. it creates a fear and they started to slow down and loose their composure wich west ham used effectively.

    but still, with the little occasions we had we were clinical and netted 2 goals so I wont judge them too hard.

    I would like Arteta to file people in their real role. don’t make kola play as center back and saka as full back. He did good yes but he should not play there. When things start to get harder he will crumble and loose his confidence and the team will start loosing. An unbalanced team is never good for long term.

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