At least Arteta now knows which Arsenal players don’t have the winning mentality

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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  1. After Arsenal first eleven, its down to pure bones, Hope Arsenal chooses Marina Granoskaia as Managing director to stream line the operation.

    Am not pleased with the manner of how players are acquired at Arsenal.

  2. I still have a high hope for most of them, because they became super-subs in some games. If Arteta could improve the old Xhaka, let alone our under-25 players

    1. Football is interesting another day this same set of players could beat Westham. I have much faith in our bench this guy’s don’t play regularly most of hem were on the bench for most part of last season. They dominated Westharm but for some lapses. Let’s not always be too critical by allowing our emotion get the better part of us both Manchester City are also out. I look forward to NewCastle game. Confidence is high we beat them last season in front of their fans

  3. Bring on DiZerbi and his recruiting team and Arsenal gets to be a dynasty!!!!
    And the plus is that we can play winning and entertaining football

    1. Where is Brighton on the table with Dezebi in the last two seasons?. Arteta is a good coach let’s not be too critical it’s just Carabao cup both Manchester teams are out. We are still in eating in Epl. I remain hopeful

      1. the question is :
        Where would Brighton be without DI Zerbi?
        Arteta is ok but needs to learn a lot faster because his stubbornness is inhibiting his progress

        1. OG, Emery is working wonders at Villa, we sacked the wrong coach. No big ticket signings, pure talent and just 2 points off us. Finally Villa have a decent manager after Martin O’Neal. DeZerbi would be the ideal choice to replace Arteta coming summer. We are not winning anything with Havs, Nketiah (our answer to City’s Halaand), Kiwor, Nelson, Viera . Arteta can take along with him some expensive baggage he brought /retained.

          1. Sorry Indian Gunner, but I absolutely disagree that we sacked the wrong manager.
            I do have a short memory but not short enough to have forgotten the total shambles we were in by the time Arteta was appointed.
            You could say his appointment came at the wrong time but it doesn’t alter the facts that we were spiralling towards the bottom of the league. He had a good reputation but it didn’t work for us then.

          2. IG, Unai Emery at Aston Villa is delivering what I believe he would have exceeded if he had been supported financially and not undermined by players, the media and the Board and retained by Arsenal.

            1. Ozziegunner
              But the problem was that he was undermined by the players. He came with a solid reputation having managed at a very high level and won European trophies. Bad timing for him coming directly after Wenger but it was absolutely necessary by then that the Board did back whoever it was who came next. Emery clearly has got the necessary coaching skills but he was totally unprepared for what he faced back then. Now and then are different times and so far he is proving himself at AV

              1. SueP, I don’t disagree, but the Board supported Arteta by rooting out the disruptive players and supporting him in transfers he wanted, whereas Emery was hung out to dry. Emery since has beaten Arteta in a Europa League semi final, which he ultimately won with Villarreal.

      2. Last season we did the same mistake getting hammered out of carabao, FA n Europa league with the pretext of concentrating on the league and it didnt end well.I seriously dont know how we scouted Harvertz and agreed he was a better addition to our team for 65M.I still don’t know how many chances does Nketiah need to really guarantee us he can help us compete for trophies.Arteta n Edu the ball is in your court to justify the expensive investments.

  4. My stream went down shortly before half time and I couldn’t be bothered to try to get it back, so can’t comment on the second half, but thought Nelson was our best forward, albeit from a pretty poor other two. He actually looked as though he wanted to win and carried the ball well, and put it into some dangerous positions. It had me thinking that he could be a decent enough stand in for Saka, although he faded a bit towards half time, but perhaps out of frustration of his team mates performances.

    1. I agree with you Jax.I thought Nelson and Kwior did very well considering their limited game time this season.The criticism of Havertz and Vieira is totally justified but I note Zinchenko and Gabriel seem to have escaped the wrath of certain regulars on JA despite poor displays .Last week I highlighted the need for Gabriel to command the near post area at corner kicks as he is excellent in the air.However it was White who emerged in that area with disastrous results .This is the 4th goal we have conceded in the front post area this season, yet Arteta and his support team seem oblivious to the problem.Their failure to move for the very impressive Kudus from Ajax is yet another frustration as I am sure he will do very well in the Premier League.Quick, agressive, skilful with an eye for goal ,he would have been a very good recruit.

  5. Your thoughts on what players are earning at our club Dan, made ne think about our noisy neighbours, so I checked how many of their squad was earning more than the reported £100k a week that Eddie is getting…… Just five players earn more than him!!

    I don’t believe you can judge ANY of the players on last night’s game though.
    For instance, White had a really poor game, but that was probably his worst this season.
    Same goes for Trossard… in fact most of the starting eleven would come under the banner of their worst game to date.

    I believe we will see EXACTLY what kind of manager Mikel Arteta is, when he selects his team to play Newcastle and how those players perform should tell us who is up to wearing the shirt!!

    There should be an immediate response, a do or die attitude and taking the game to them.

    Let’s wait and see.

    1. Ken1945 you should also ask yourself which of those players you’re referring to signed on a free transfer. Players will always earn more if they sign as free agents- it’s common knowledge. I didn’t see this much criticism for Wenger and Sead Kolasinac when the latter was signed on a free transfer with a reported weekly wage of £100k,which made him one of the top earners at the club.The fixation on what players earn is pathetic really.

      1. There were plenty of dud AW signings Onyango and the criticism rumbles on to this day (and quite rightly so) but that is in the past.

        As I part with my money on a regular basis, supporting the club I have followed for 71 years, the salaries that players reportedly earn ARE of interest to me….. especially if they earn (or don’t earn) it.
        I like to see where my pensionable twopennuth goes week after week.

        Are you quite sure that Kolasinac was one of our “top earners?” and, yes, I did know that free agents can negotiate better salaries.
        I’ll check on Sead but it’s not really relevant as of today is it?

        I’m not sure why you think I’m criticising MA, as I was responding to Dan’s point about Nketiah’s salary and it intrigued me as to what the spud players were on.

        As a direct comparison, their CF Son, earns a reported £185k a week – doesn’t that make you think about our contract negotiations just a little?

        I find it intriguing rather than pathetic – the pathetic part is value for money.

        I’ll be in touch regarding Sead.

        1. Fair enough on your rights as a regular Arsenal customer- I respect that. Yeah I’m sure Kolasinac was one of the top earners at the club in 2018 ; only three players earned more – Özil,Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang. Actually I didn’t mention Arteta; I was offering perspective on the Eddie wage situation and why I think some of the criticism relating to his ‘big wage’ is a bit unfair imo . I believe the Kolasinac and Nketia wages would be lower if they weren’t free agents; and the club would have spent a lot more on transfer fees+wages if they signed different players.

          1. OK my friend, here is the reported yearly /weekly salaries from the 19/20 season, Sead’s last full season I believe :

            Ozil = £18.2m / £350k
            Aub = £10.4m / £200k
            Lacs = £09.4m / £182k
            Pepe =£07.2m / £140k
            Luiz =£06.5m / £120k
            Belle =£05.7m / £110k
            Leno =£05.2m / £100k
            Xhak =£05.2m / £100k
            SEAD £05.2m / £100k

            There are nine other players who make up the eighteen first team squad, so Kolasinac comes in at joint seventh.

            The lowest earner? Would you believe Martinez at just £1m and £20k a week.
            That season, we were the second highest club in regards to salaries, behind (I think) manure.

            Interesting, when you think that all of the 18 players were branded as deadwood, dross and unfit to wear the shirt.

            Now, a comparison with what our top eighteen players are earning this season and who’s names are attached with the same labels by Arsenal “fans” would be VERY interesting.

    2. ken, as you and I have seen many times over our years supporting the Arsenal, a big transfer fee and/or high wages often hasn’t translated to performance at the Club.
      As for “our noisy neighbours”, Ange Postecoglou has currently shown what a top class experienced coach can achieve with previously underperforming players and excellent transfers. This is accentuated by the fact that a top class Conte (notwithstanding the person issues he faced) couldn’t get a tune out of them last season.

  6. Spot on
    What I have been saying for years about Nketiah and Nelson
    Havertz has had 3 years in prem and been underperforming consistently. His signing was bizarre, another Willian! Elneny would do more!
    Vieira is weak physically and mentally, totally unsuitable for teh PL.
    This squad still has a long way to go and it will be a struggle for top 4 this season

  7. It all starts with Saliba, he is not just a great individual, he brings so much more to the team. He takes the pressure off and releases the holding midfielder, he covers for White and Gabriel he is critical to the platform of the team and our back line is so average without him. Of course there were many other things wrong with the performance last night, but essentially our team without Saka, Rice, Saliba, Partey and Martinelli is plain average. Certain players make good subs such as Jorghino, Nelson, Nketiah, Kiwior, and even Havertz, but they are not good enough otherwise. We got what we deserved last night, no quibble.

  8. I like the truth put out by Dan Smith, and it’s simply that Nketiah, Nelson, Havertz and Viera need leadership in the pitch and cannot be entrusted with independent thought. This points to immaturity at this level and it has nothing to do with age. Havertz stopped developing as a player when he left Germany and here we are, dishing out around half a million pounds a month for an underdeveloped, failure. The big question is what was Arteta looking at when he asked for £65million to get him? This, and other bad decisions suggests the coach himself may be great as an assistant, but is not mature enough to lead as a manager.

  9. Nelson and Kiwior had decent games in my opinion and apart from his own goal (which would not have been given if VAR was in operation) White was good too. I think the main problem is when you make wholesale changes as the ‘team’ have not been playing together regularly. Wenger would change the complete starting eleven and play the second team who are used to playing together and usually did well in this competition. It’s agreed though that Nketiah, Havertz and Vieira are not good enough.

  10. It’s quite telling that in a match where virtually all the players had a poor game, you selected a few who suit a particular narrative and are easy targets/scapegoats. You single out Eddie,minimizing his hat trick and making a false claim that he has done the bare minimum yet he has contributed to some of our wins this season in the absence of Jesus. Interestingly you didn’t mention ‘strong characters’ like Gabriel and Ramsdale who equally had poor games.

    1. There’s nothing that shows bias like singling out some players for blame. The entire team and the coach have to take responsibility.

      1. Would you not say Gabriel’s body of work has been greater ?
        Eddie’s goal contributed to two wins this season

  11. No one would really mind a below average performance in a midweek game but a match like this highlights the issues.
    1. Not good enough squad players to take you to next level ie. an EPL title
    2.Poor recruiting
    3. Poor player management (don’t risk your major assets in a loosing cause)
    We have a couple injuries and we are already without suitable replacements but yet we spent 5 times what ex. Brighton spent in the last 2 years.
    If the board starts asking questions on the quality of the investments someone must explain why we paid 65 mil for a player that would not start in any of the top 6?
    35 mil for Viera after 2 seasons looks like a waste also.
    Anyone who disputes this needs to take another look.

  12. Surely the mentality and strength of character of a player should be assessed prior to their purchase?
    Arsenal continue to bring in total pussies, who absolutely go to water under pressure.

  13. Vieira is running out of time fast to make an impact at this club, Eddie isn’t the level to be a backup 9 for a title challenging side, Havertz……. we all know what we know, ESR never fit will never reach levels we wish he could achieve, Partey never fit, collapses at most important points of last season, too many off-field issues, Nelson Arteta begs him to stay and then gives him one start every 3 months. I hate to see the deadwood start to pile up but it is happening and squad needs more thinning out in the summer. The recruitment and big decisions made by Arteta have been hit or miss lately

  14. I think next season we will target three players firstly a better striker than Nketiah then second up a more suitable player than Havertz for a b2b role and thirdly a right-sided attacker so we can rest and push Saka. These three areas will be targeted and we will notice the difference it makes

  15. RSH
    Arteta’s recruiting has been mostly miss than hits
    Aside from Rice I can’t think of another player MA wanted that is making a significant difference.
    And to top it all he mis managed Saliba and almost
    started playing games with Gabriel in the back.
    We all want to trust the manager but we are not stupid fans either.

  16. @cfarsenal arteta have sign alot average or below average player than above average so every summer windows we always have one or two average players brought in. During the summer I thought arsenal would be a better team if they bring in Madison and rice only for arteta to go for havert and sold xhaka what a great team arsenal would have been with talent and depth, in life your decision determined your destiny. Arteta and the
    board decision determined what arsenal would become

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