Arsenal’s expensive backups were useless by Dan Smith
My best mate supports Liverpool. While watching his team win at the Vitality, he glanced at score updates from the London Stadium.
He messaged, “What’s going on? Weak team?”
I could have responded yes.
To a casual viewer, not familiar with Arsenal’s affairs, it was true we had made serious changes from the weekend.
Declan Rice, Odegaard, Saliba, Saka, Martinelli are all talent who started on the bench last night who will most likely start at Saint James Park.
Yet I didn’t feel comfortable using that narrative. I was embarrassed to do so.
Our midfield three cost over 100 million! How is that weak?
2 of our attackers are being paid 100,000 pounds a week!
What I sent back to my friend was “it depends on how much you rate our mentality”.
Because when you think of Havertz, Vieira, Nketiah, Nelson, etc, you don’t think of strong characters with personalities. All need direction, leadership. All go missing without it.
Wednesday was an opportunity for those players to make an impression. When you view the tie from that viewpoint it’s quite shocking how bad we were.
Mikel Arteta talks about his “non-negotiable principles’ but if that’s true (and they are not always) then some of these players will struggle to start another game this season.
This isn’t me being wise after the event.
For years I wrote about Nelson and Nketiah playing like competition winners, grateful to be on this stage rather than believing they belong at this level.
Shame on every Gooner who’s allowed, without reproach, average players to be paid such a salary for such limited body of work.
Damn those in our fanbase who have never questioned the attitude of a player that is content with a few starts in the League Cup each season.
Nelson scores one long range strike, Vieira has a decent cameo against Fulham, Eddie gets a hattrick against a newly promoted side …. individuals earning fortunes for doing the bare minimum.
Odegaard showed in just over 10 mins the difference to his peers who for 80 mins had passed the ball sideways.
Our captain had more shots on target in 15 minutes then the entire team managed in 80 mins.
A stat that you might dismiss at first glance, but sums up the difference in our skipper’s mindset.
The Norwegian had the bravery to demand possession, wasn’t afraid to try something different, refused to play the safe pass out of a fear of getting something wrong.
Can you say the same about the majority who started against the Hammers?
If there’s one positive from our 3-1 defeat, it’s finally it should make up our manager’s mind that the badge is too big for some of our players.
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