The Michael Thomas Column
Mikel has definitely had an unfortunate start to the season with injuries, Covid, etc. Given the run of games he had for the start of the season I am sure he would have wanted to get off to a better start against Brentford, whilst anticipating 2 tough games against Chelsea and Manchester City.
Losing against the latter 2 is not the most surprising thing in the world but the manner in which they lost to Manchester City will be the biggest problem to the club and the fans. They effectively rolled over and Xhaka did not help at all. Hopefully after this international break Arteta has his spine back with Gabriel & White at the heart of the defense and Partey back in front of them. This should see Arsenal putting a better run of results together, but the team must work for each other and quickly.
After watching the City game it was evident that the players don’t have enough trust in each other to play. Keep the ball and make progressive passes. If you watch all the best teams they are happy to receive the ball in tight situations and a teammate always offers a way out. I would like to see the players trusting each other more and making progressive passes to push the ball through the lines.
I think the game was over at 2-0 but what Xhaka did was not give his team mates a chance at fighting back as a unit. This kind of behaviour needs to stop at the club and everyone must pull their weight in order to progress.
Although Xhaka can be exasperating sometimes, the new contract extension makes sense as a business plan as it protects the value of their asset. However, on the other hand, Xhaka has yet to give Arsenal the performances the club deserves and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him moved on either in January or at the end of the season.
Although Ramsdale has arrived as competition, Bernd Leno makes good stops but sometimes it looks like the defenders don’t have total confidence in him – and vice versa. Give him time (and White and Gabriel in front of him) and the next 3 games will be vital for the club.
The club clearly have a vision and are backing Mikel. He will need to deliver results regardless, but I think they will at least give him until October and see what position the club are in then.
So at last Arsenal have an easier game coming up against Norwich. A good performance and a win is needed all around, for the players & fans. The players need to show that they’re capable of winning games and scoring goals. I think that you will see a much better performance in that game, although no games are ever an easy one in this League.
It is interesting that all of Arsenal’s incoming transfers are 23 or under. Whether Mikel gets the opportunity to mould them into a winning unit or another manager later down the line has to continue with them, the club are obviously working on a model that involves young players. Hopefully he is given the time and the players start stepping up, because the blame is a lot on them to produce and we as fans miss that sometimes. When you step over that line as a player, a manager can’t fight for you. You must have the mentality and the willingness to do that.
I don’t think it’s a thing of “should we trust the process” but more so we have to trust the process, as that’s what’s happening at the club right now. As fans if we don’t back our club and players, even in these extremely difficult moments – then who will? No matter where you would like to see the club, and believe me I am number one for wanting to see them at the top, this is where we are and we must come together and support one another.
The Willian signing was definitely a failed experiment and it is best for all parties that we have parted ways this summer. I wouldn’t say it was honourable as at any job you’re working and your contract is your contract. However he has done the club a massive favour and hopefully we can invest that in January and beyond.
All in all I think that Arteta and Edu have done very well in the transfer market. They now have a decent squad, a young squad and a squad that has a lot of quality in it. They need to really create a family unit and fight for each other going forward.
This will most definitely see the club’s fortunes change and Arsenal will climb up the table.