Maybe we need a cultural change? by AndersS
Let me be provocative.
Forget team selection.
Forget individual players’ errors or their individual performances in general.
Forget the notion, that our players aren’t good enough.
None of all this is the reason we lost 0-3 to Villa.
No, the reason is something different. It is “mental”, if you like.
Villa were more motivated.
They were more ready.
They were more “hungry”.
They were quicker on the ball.
They put that extra into each fight for the ball.
They pressed with more speed and intent.
They, they, they… you can continue the list.
That is why they won, and the above is not a list of many different reasons for our loss. No, it is a list of symptoms that are all rooted in one single cause. The mentality.
Unfortunately, this is not a “one-off occurrence”. In fact, I would go as far as to claim, it was the same, when we lost to Leicester a couple of weeks earlier. I know, Arteta put it down to “fatigue”, but I really don’t agree. That fatigue, if it was there at all, would have been overcome with the right mental attitude.
Nor is it a new problem for this season. This is a problem, we have seen rearing its ugly head on a regular basis for many years.
It hurts to admit, but the reason, why it has become a tradition, we don’t collect enough points against the top teams in the league, is our lack of mental strength. It is also the lack of mental strength that has allowed simple but physical teams to bully us many times over the years. We simply succumb to the pressure too often.
Yes, I am ready to admit, that all the people, who over the latest 10-12 years have claimed Arsenal to be weak and spineless, have been right to a large extent. Knock me if you like, but I have now been an Arsenal fan for around 50 years, and I don’t think this statement makes me any less of a fan.
I certainly have my own thoughts on how and why, we are in this situation. But spending too much time dwelling on the past, is actually useless. What is more interesting, if the diagnosis is right, is how we can cure the problem?
I think it starts with the manager. It is not Arteta’s fault as such. It started many years ago, and he has inherited the problem. But as long as he is the manager, it is his responsibility to try and get us out of it. I was very optimistic, because he seemed to be showing some of the traits, that are needed:
Demanding a 100% effort from the players.
Ruthless in his team selection.
A “take it or leave” approach.
A focused strategy on which areas to strengthen and which players to acquire and retain in the transfer market.
I am also happy to see, he seems to be trying to solve our defensive issues as the first priority. Yes, it is boring, and of course it is a problem that we don’t create many chances, and thus score too few goals. But we haven’t had the defensive organization needed for a proper title challenge in xx years, so why not start there? Seems fairly obvious to me we need that first, and then we can build from there. So, I am willing to accept a period with less entertaining football, and I am also willing to accept, Arteta needs time, and setbacks is part of any ambitious process.
But honestly, I think it is unacceptable to see a team of extremely well paid professional players, and a well paid manager, play and lose an important game by not being mentally up for it. Not giving 100%. It has been accepted for too many years, and it has become a deeply rooted cultural problem, I am afraid.
It needs to change, or we will never be able to challenge for the league.
I hope Arteta can be the catalyst for that change. But I am worried after the Villa game.
Why did we come out to the game on the back-foot?
Where was the needed change in attitude after the break?
Where was the leader on the pitch to raise the spirits?
It is all too easy to be mentally on top, when things are going well, but when we are struggling and are falling behind, it is a totally different situation, and now is the time for Arteta to show, if he is the right man. Not by picking this or that player, or by doing tactical changes etc. Of course he can do both, and maybe we can improve a bit. But it will not do the trick alone in the long run.
No, above all, he needs to show, we can get mentally stronger. We need to become winners in our heads, in the way we approach training and games, before we can become champions
Med venlig hilsen/kind regards