Exclusive – Michael Thomas discusses our ‘must-win’ Southampton game


Well, what difference from a month ago. Arsenal have suddenly gone from 10 games unbeaten to losing 3 out of 4, including against an awful Everton side. The worry is that the players seem to always revert back to 2nd gear once taking the lead. They lack the belief and confidence to kill teams off and instead hope to fend teams off, which is always dangerous and allows teams to mount huge pressure on you throughout a game. This is even more apparent when the crowd both home and away start influencing the game. The team must do better.

There’s been a lot of talk about the manager after recent results, but as an Arsenal player your aim must always be to win the next game and give 100% for the cause. Arteta has a lot of misfiring players especially in the senior pros up top. If this doesn’t change then the players that you see there must change. We have the January transfer window approaching and the team are still in the mix. They either buck up their ideas or should be shipped out and bring in hungry proven quality.

Arteta keeps telling the players that they should not sit back and defend a one-goal lead, but to go in for the kill. It seems the players are not listening to Arteta or they simply too scared of losing. The players need to do it for them to believe that it’s possible. When they win it’s been much this season about how good our defence, including the keeper, has been and less about how good the forwards have finished. The midfield, in particular Thomas Partey needs to control the tempo of the game a lot better, and give the young attacking players a platform to be free in attacking situations. Only then will you see a team that know they can really beat teams with their own qualities.

Ramsdale, White and Gabriel were practically unpassable in our 10-game unbeaten run, now they have suddenly conceded 9 in 4 games. The back line have been great but when a defence has not enough protection this is always going to be the case. The opposition keep chipping away and eventually they’ll get something from the mounting pressure. The midfielders are the catalyst for controlling the way the game plays out and at times the team lack a real energy and presence to see things through professionally. We’ve spoke about players like Renato Sanches, Bissouma, etc, in the past and hopefully these are players that are high on the priority list of the club in January.

Aubameyang has also been guilty and hasn’t scored in 7 games and is missing sitters. There are unconfirmed reports of a rift between our manager and captain but Arteta was right to drop him in the end. Aubameyang 100% needed time out. He has been misfiring for a while now but putting in a shift to cover it. A player should always put on a shift when they put on that iconic shirt. It’s what the fans deserve and it’s the basics of any good team. Arsenal however can’t afford to carry a player of his quality and wages for long. There needs to be drastic improvements going forward or a big change. We have an extremely young group and he, as the captain, must do more to lead this group. His quality is unquestionably there but not consistent enough these days.

Another enigma is Pepe. He ended last season well, but is currently on a 6-game run of being an unused sub. The Pepe situation is absurd to me. For me the player and manager must not be on the same page because there isn’t a chance that you’re chasing a game and a player with his attacking abilities sits out the entirety of the game. There needs to be a solution for this situation also because he is another that we cannot afford to carry. Get him on board or get him out.

And next up we have got Southampton. Arteta will be under more serious pressure if we don’t win that one convincingly. There is this major factor that every game is a must-win game which stems from the history of where the club used to be in terms of challenging for the big prizes. Make no mistake about it though, the game against Southampton IS a must-win game.

The players are on a real low but have a game in which they will not only be expected to win at home but also put in a good performance and show some character. Being a player of high quality is one thing, but when all is not going well you absolutely must give 110%. This is what the minimum requirement is of playing for this club.

If they do that then they will win without doubt.

Let’s hope things are looking brighter before my next column!

Michael Thomas

WATCH Arteta’s pre-match conference…

Tags Arsenal v southampton Michael Thomas


  1. “Arteta keeps telling the players that they should not sit back and defend a one-goal lead, but to go in for the kill. It seems the players are not listening to Arteta or they simply too scared of losing”

    I also noticed Arteta kept barking at his attackers to press, yet they were reluctant to do it. Arteta’s detractors never paid attention to these incidents and just looked at the final scoreline

    Unfortunately, we’d most likely be unable to sell our senior CFs in January. So Arteta had better instruct other players to do the high press, if the CF is too slow or too reluctant to do it quickly

    1. Agree bro, I read another news item wherein Ralph Rangnick was a hopeful to replace the sackable Wenger but was pissed off with Ozil’s wages and cut short the discussions. The fact that the club over pays players who do not bother to put in a shift for the valor of the jersey and the badge is getting irritating. Slating Unai, now Mikel seems the easy way out. Ozil layed the process for future generations of prima donnas to down the tools, best is for the club to unearth hidden gems – just what Mikel is doing.Out with this ugly player power, let the players know that we stand by our manager and they should be booed (no abuse accpeted in any form) after every dismal performance.

      1. Rangnick’s intense counter-pressing system must be one of the reasons why Martial would like to leave in January

  2. Losing to Southampton could see Arteta get sacked. Arteta needs to bench Aubameyang, Lacazette, Partey and Xhaha to have a chance of winning the game.

  3. If the players are not listening to Arteta when he is asking them to press high or go forward in attack, it is upto Arteta to devise a strategy to see to it that either they listen to him or they do not play the next match. The buck stops with Arteta. He is the boss and to get winnable results he must do whatever he can do at his disposal. No player is indispensible and every player has a role to play.

    1. And when managers do just that, the fans turn on the manager. Remember the Unia fiasco? How many enemies Mikel made on this site due to his correct decision to banish Ozil? Mikel just does not have the talent at his disposal to implement his tactics. All thanks to the previous useless regimes.

    2. gunnerforlife Is this the EMERY factor all over again players not doing what they are told to do. They would not play for Emery in the finish

    3. Agreed. Buck stops with Arteta. He has the power to drop players that doesn’t follow his plans. Fans backlash can simply be ignored. He is the chief. But when you make an unpopular decision to drop a big name, you jolly well get the desired results. The problem with the new coaches today is that they want to realize their vision without considering the the abilities and mental state of their squad. The end product would be abysmal football.

  4. Loose Cannon It has nothing to do with the previous regimes the players are good enough it is the players themselves once they cross the white line it is up to them to what they were told

  5. Love hearing the blame on players from previous regiemes. Let’s ignore the fact that Arteta brought in 12 new players.

    If Auba, Laca, Tierney, Pepe or Xhaka are responsible (previous regime players) then how weak is Arteta?

    Arteta has dozens of excuses, but not a single solution to improve their mentality, how to score goals, or find any consistency.

    He is the manager FFS, he sets the tone and makes final decisions. Can’t put all blame on the players all the time.

    Arteta talks about leadership, but shows precious little on the sideline. He is a man drowning at this point, and has no solutions, only endless excuses.

    He should be gone at the end of the season. Still no style of play after 2 years.

    1. Hey Durand

      A few weeks ago I would of argue that the players are not carrying out the managers instructions ( despite how bad the tactics are, the players can’t pass, defend or shoot properly) which is on them.

      But the pi*s poor mentality of the team is purely down to the manager. They don’t believe in him, I suspect, because if they did
      We would see fight in their game, which is missing.

      A few weeks ago someone posted about “10/15 years of a certain mentality” or player character profile, more skill than heart type of players we tend to buy, maybe that’s still running through the club. We buy Arteta Liverpool buy Milner (I’ve used that as a example type of player). Something as not been right for years and years. It’s probably the owners 🙁…

  6. The concerns about “leadership” amongst the squad predate Arteta for many years.
    Every manager needs senior players who will give their all and ensure that his plan is carried out.. One suspects that this is the reason Xhaka still gets played despite his limitations.
    The senior players need to set the tone but have been inconsistent.

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