Is Arteta playing mind games or does he really believe the ref caused our Tottenham defeat?

Mikel Arteta’s mind games since the NLD have been so transparent that it’s been cringeworthy.

Our manager thinks our defeat can be explained away by blaming the officials, with him or his players taking zero accountability.

To clarity that’s the boss of Arsenal FC saying he’s ‘happy’ with his team after losing 3-0 to our rivals.

That’s how low we have fallen. This from a man who when it suits him preaches the values of the club he once captained.

Most of the time in Football, you don’t concede 3 goals and score zero purely based on referees.

Of course, it doesn’t matter if Gooners believe him or what Conte’s view is.

The most important aspect is what the squad deep down feel.

With a quick turnaround, their coach has chosen not to dwell on went wrong at the Lane, hoping by Monday it will be shrugged off as an injustice.

If we win our next two fixtures, then that’s worked.

In reality how many of our players believe that?

Or do they notice a trend that some in our fanbase have noticed?

That when the pressure is on, we have a tendency not to show up?

Like at Palace?

Like at home to Brighton?

Away to Saints?

Like in the 2nd leg of the Carabao Cup?

Like in the FA Cup?

Like at Anfield?

The Etihad?

The majority of those occasions we never looked like scoring.

That’s not down to any decisions going against us, that’s because the Spaniard chose to make us weaker in attack in January and put all the pressure on youngsters to be our main creative outlet.

For argument’s sake, the penalty was soft in midweek, but can’t be explained as such a bad call our gaffer fears a six month ban if addressed.

Cedric makes zero attempt to play the ball.

On a yellow card, Holding has no reason to do what he did.

If these instances were a one off, you could dismiss them.

In reality they showcase the weak mentality when the stakes are high.

My biggest fear though is what if Arteta believes what he’s saying?

What if he genuinely goes to bed thinking the standard of our performance at Spurs is acceptable?

It’s not his fault. His employers rewarded him with a new contract without knowing what European competition we will be in next year.

If his bosses are saying that Champions League isn’t a minimal requirement, then can we blame him for setting the bar so low?

Chelsea and Man United would sack anyone for 5th or lower because they are big clubs who view that as unacceptable

This weekend he shouldn’t worry about riffs or conspiracy theories.

Don’t even worry about who to play at centreback.

Make sure we have the toughness in our brains to go to the Toon on a Monday Night, flood lights on, must-win and that we can handle the occasion.

The fact that we as supporters wouldn’t be shocked if we don’t speak volumes.


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Video – Mikel Arteta on Tottenham, the referee and bad news on Gabriel

Tags Arteta referee Tottenham v Arsenal


  1. Yes he’s making excuses and he’s always full of them but I don’t see it can be called out as mind games. It’s just his apparent inability to either install some discipline into our players or punish them when they blatantly f**k up like Holding did. Having said that and I fully agree that Holdings elbow on Son could easily have been a straight red, I’m very puzzle why Kane’s assault on (I think) Gabriel went completely unpunished!

  2. Dan you are right if we can’t go to Tyne side and win with everything at stake for us and nothing at stake for them then we don’t deserve to be in the CL it’s that simple really … it’s up to arteta to find a way and if he can’t then he shouldn’t be managing us … and the kronkes need to crawl back under whatever corporate stone they emerged from so we can find someone or some group to run the club who actually cares about the game

  3. We were beat by the better team on the day with an electric crowd, one of the best iv heard this season, supporting them the whole way.

    In saying that they had the advantage as soon as they got the penalty because just before that the crowd had settled down, we were in the game no doubt, it was even enough then the soft penalty which then lead to what happend. 1 call ruined the game so Mikel is technically right but Holdings discipline, well all players all season and especially this game wasn’t good at all & hasn’t been. It needs addressed badly, it’s costs us so many games.

    We have saw 10 men do wonders v 11, we don’t have that in us atm & thats also down to Mikel but is what it is and we can’t focus on it as we have Newcastle Monday which is an even bigger game for us as we still have the point lead over Spurs, though come Monday we could be 2points behind.

    Monday is the moment of truth for this club.

    1. I think Thursday was the real moment of truth. That would have been a final’s final for us. Win that game and you get to relax for the next 2 games knowing the job for the season is done. The pressure is also gone but what did we do? Have a brain fart via holding whom Arteta couldn’t caution from the sidelines after his numerous bad tackles. That for me was the defining moment. Spurs have burnley and Norwich, they couldn’t have asked for more easier games to mount the top 4 pressure on us who have much tougher games and will be playing under more pressure than spurs. Especially if everton’s not safe by the time they play us. If we win the last 2 games, we got really lucky and not down to arteta’s brilliance because I’m still not convinced of him. But at least with a top 4,we get to sign quality players again even if the coach is still average. That’s better than having average players coached by an average manager.

  4. And if some of us just say it as it is and how unambitious the board is to give him a new contract when we don’t know if we’ll make top 4 or not just leads to deluded fans calling us negative for being objective. Your last statement says it all Dan. The likelihood of finishing 5th with respect to recent bans and injuries is higher now than ever aside the fact that we face tougher opponents than spurs. Many of the fan base will say top 6 was the goal and we made 5th so it is “progress”. I’m done having to ask people to really see the gulf of difference in our manager/players and spurs and see which of the 2 will survive in Europe’s elite club competition better. If we can lose 3-0 to spurs, do we even deserve to be in the champions league at their expense? And if you say, we’re going to get better players and improve, are other clubs going to do nothing to improve their sides as well?

    1. Who told you that the board was looking at finishing in the Top 4 as the criteria to renew Arteta’s contract?
      The board wanted stability first and a Top 6 place. Arteta achieved those 2 hence why his contract was renewed..

      This Top 4 talk only came about as the season progressed abd it came from all of us expectant fans. Top 4 was not the be and end all from the club’s higher ups..

      1. But when did we decide that 6 th was okay ?
        Emery and Wenger got sacked for that ?

        1. Dan you or I don’t decide the ambitions of the club. It’s the owners..
          We can shout all we like but the final decisions have nothing to so with us fans..

      2. Arteta and players have talked about Top 4 as the goal since January. Their words not mine, check out the quotes where they mention it “as a goal this year”

        This settle for top 6 nonsense is lowering the standard. How can some run out Wenger and Emery, yet claim progress when Arteta finishes in a place that got those 2 sacked?

        Talking about fickle, just saying

        1. Oh, forgot to mention that those of us that have kept the standard imposed on Wenger and Emery are seen as “Anti-Arteta.”

          I’ve always considered it as “Pro-Arsenal” and not anti-anyone. Just always thought manager’s job is to rise to the standards of the club, not for the club to lower their standards to suit a manager.

        2. The players can talk about Top 4 and that but that was a bonus according to the higher right it seems..
          I think the board gave Arteta a Top 6 goal.

          But I myself would be absolutely disappointed if we don’t get top 4 at the end of the season. It will feel like bottle job if we don’t clinch 4th at least.

      3. Goonster, how the mighty have fallen. 6th place is good enough for a club of our stature? I’m afraid if two failures by Wenger to finish in the top 4 was a sacking offence, like wise Emery’s failure then what is so different about MA failing to finish in the top 4 3 times? Should we be rewarding mediocrity?

        1. Mate, that’s life. That’s how Football and real life is like.
          There used to be the Roman empire, Ottoman empire, Abbasid Empire, Assyrian empire, British empire, American imperialism, Russian empire and 100’s more.
          Sometimes one has got to be honest with themselves and stop being delusional. The last time we were serious club was back in 2003/2004 season. We were indoctrinated and brainwashed into thinking that 4th place is like a trophy club since 2006. We stagnated for more than a decade. That hurts us as a club in the long run. Hence the constant Top 4 talk..

          I accepted that this is where we are at the moment, and it’s so liberating being honest myself instead of living in a delusion. I am ready to take it step by step as long as I can see that the club has a progressive plan. All I wanted was a fresh start for the club. Declutter, clear out, empty the whole house, deep clean, dust, buy new furniture, repaint, and redecorate the whole thing.. Let’s start a fresh and try to rebuild from bottom.. I have seen clear progress this season so I don’t feel as hopeless as I was leading to wengers last 2 seasons, I can clearly see what the club is trying to do..

          As long as the club is showing a progressive forward looking plan then I am onboard.. Don’t want to turn myself into a delusional Vladmir Putin who thinks Russia is still as powerful as it used to be back in its heydays. He thought he would just turn up in the Ukraine and be done with it in a week.. He let the past cloud his reality.. Should take it step by step..

          That’s where I am at the moment. My whining will not change the higher ups own vision this season. It is?

        2. Goalposts clearly have shifted. Emery clearly didn’t get the board or owner support, and maybe was only hired as a temporary manager, who never had a future with Arsenal.

          Standards and consistency were allowed to slip and we see the result.

          Let’s say we keep 4th, but next year finish 5th or 6th. Does Arteta get sacked? Warned a 2nd finish outside top 4 is a sackable offense? Or sell excuses and bury head in the sand?

          1. Honestly just wondering if the club is holding on to standards, if top 4 is a goal as with Wenger and Emery.

            Or if club has lowered the standards and fans expected to lower theirs as well. I am honestly curious and asking about the future ambitions and expectations of our club.

            Is top 6 the new top 4 going forward? Should European football even be an expectation going forward?

            I’m curious what everyone thinks and their opinions on this matter.

    2. We need to finish the season first. Then we can worry about how we will do in whichever tournament we are in.
      Arsenal will also certainly strengthen the squad in the summer. Then next season we will see.
      I disagree that the board is unambitious. They have taken a different approach to what you think is the best one. However, there are different possible approaches to success and none that is guaranteed.

    3. One game doesn’t define season. The board giving MA a new contract wasn’t dependent on the top 4 finish, but rather the long term plans. We all can see the youth and potential of the team. The inconsistency will diminish next season as they will have gained more experience.

      1. Wasn’t one game though
        Home to Brighton
        Home to Chelsea
        Now spurs
        All examples where team didn’t show up

  5. Man U is a great example of how not to it.
    In the past 9 years since Sir Alex left, they have gone through 5 managers + a couple of caretaker managers without ever challenging for the title.
    In these 9 years we have finished above them 6 times.
    Maybe that speaks volumes.

    1. But they did finish 2nd, and been in the CL while we have not. Ole lost the dressing room and his board didn’t back him when he needed it.

      Perhaps if his board got rid of the malcontents he would still have a job.

      We shouldn’t cast stones because we haven’t been pulling up any trees last couple years.

      We won the FA Cup, but how many of those malcontent players are still here? Let’s finish 4th before laughing at utd.

      Otherwise, we’ve spent 250 million to achieve the same finish as Emery, 5th. We’ve had 3 managers (counting Freddie as caretaker) in 5 years, so we’re not exactly a bastion of integrity either.

      1. I am not laughing at Man U.
        Just pointing out to the writer, who argues they have a better mindset regarding managers, that it surely isn’t so.

  6. Having watched the game I really can’t see much blame being laid at the doors of the officials.

    Like a lot of the games in the recent and long term past. When we play teams that adopt a perfunctory method of play and or, play with more intent and guile than us. We lose our heads and are unable to respond as we don’t make the time to compose ourselves.

    Tottenham always play full thrust, quite happy to be physical, obstinate and obstructive…..their guile game. At the same time, they’re quite happy to resort to tried and tested methods. Make the game scrappy, pick up the loose balls as a result and mount a two or three pass counter combining Kane and Son….their perfunctory game. 1

    Holding, thought that he could physically overpower Son and tried to use that aspect of his game to try unsettle Son. Unfortunately, Son is not just a goal scoring speedster. He can mix it up physically when needed and is multi dimensional in his approach. Holding was the opposite and had a caveman like, single minded plan and was ultimately the architect of his own downfall. By not being able to effectively manage his own, individual game. His brutish tactics played right into the hands of Spurs and Son

    That was pretty much the same for the game in its entirety. Without the aggravated assaults. The whole team played into Spurs’ hands. All the officials had to do was stand by and watch it unfold. Many of the decisions were made for them by us!

    Sometimes we’ve just got to take it on the chin and admit that on occasion we make a bit of a mess of this simple game of football.

    Nonetheless, we’ve still got two more games to make something of this season. I hope that we can use this season to learn from and improve in the oncoming campaigns

    1. I disagree with much of what you have written.
      Much of it is simply the repetition of a narrative that you and others have formed based on preconceptions and the outcome of the match.
      A number of players, mainly Holding and Cedric, made bad errors of judgement at key points. However it is not true that the game as a whole was simply Arsenal playing into Spurs hands.

  7. I wouldn’t call Arteta’s reaction as mind games. He looked like a man who was blaming somebody/anybody rather than take the flak for the loss.

    I suppose it is how you lose as well. Going down fighting and busting a gut, is infinitely preferable to giving the opposition the advantage by losing the plot.

    I agree pretty much with Sean above that on the night Spurs looked more likely. That said, we did start brightly but as Spurs got their teeth into it a bit more and Holding got more and more heated the balance changed. I know Arteta got stick for not getting him off the pitch before he got sent off but would risking White have been a good idea so early on in the game?

    I had actually thought our mentality was improving after the 3 in a row losses. Oh well, they better get it back again for Monday

  8. Arteta will be Arsenal coach until 2025…. You can whine as u like and make all different examples to downgrade him buh you what…..he does not care about you….. He does his work and we are hopeful he will make the champions league…

  9. I saw Arsenal in charge,then whiter than white son started goading Holding long before the second yellow.
    He exaggerated and conned the ref into his pocket.He was responsible for the penalty and sending off!If the ref had been any good son would have been booked and sent off and then the result would have been different.Arteta is right to tell his young team to dust it off as a biased night as expected really.Win the last two 😎👍

    1. I don’t know which match some Arsenal fans watched as I am still searching for where that penalty came from. I am 100% sure it wouldn’t have been called against ManCity or Liverpool or any other team.

      Again people keep saying Holding elbowed Son. That’s false. As untidy as that coming together may have seemed, it was Holding’s shoulder and not any elbow.

      Arteta was right to be furious. That referee ruined that good match which Arsenal was controlling. Inspite of not being very fit for that match, Arleta was also right in not subbing in White because that referee was going to also give him red and ruin the rest of the season for Arsenal.

      1. I watched the game and also carefully looked at the replay, still went on YouTube to actually get a clear picture of Holding raising his elbow to Son fave but I haven’t seen it yet. I don’t know if someone here can help us with that.

        All the talks has been that Holding elbowed him but images are showing that Son ran into Holding shoulder.

        Look at their height, is f Holding was to raise his elbow his hand would have gone high but yet I could see his hand still attached to his body. I’m in no way saying Holding did a perfect thing there but actually Son was very certain of not getting to that ball.

        Is it that people

  10. I don’t like him but looking at the table he has done pretty well considering his squad mismanagement.

    12 losses are very bad but then 21 wins are impressive. I won’t make him a Messiah like some do but regardless of whether we finish 4th or 5th I think he deserve another year to show what more he can do with an improved squad.

  11. He did the right thing to lift up the team’s morale, because Holding/ Soares are important team members and we’ll play in Newcastle soon. Aside from that, I also think Holding’s second yellow card was totally undeserved

    Arsenal have got the video evidence and they should’ve submitted a complaint, if they had the same opinion as mine

    Crucifying Holding, Soares and Arteta now won’t do any good to our top four aspiration. The whole team need our support to prepare the mentality for the next game

  12. The best team won on the night,

    Technically the referee spoil the game, that penalty by referee is one you won’t see given every week.

    It’s a shame common sense isn’t so common after all

    1. Hear something new? The best team!

      The became the best team after the referee had ruined the match – handicapping their opponent.

  13. He has to deflect from the defeat so that the players don’t lose confidence this close to finish line..
    That’s my opinion of course..

    We have 2 massive games coming up. Please Arteta, get the players ready mentally and psychologically.
    We can see the finish line..

  14. Maybe gaffer genuinely thinks he could wrap things up at white heart lane from the looks of it.

    Am a little surprised and even Conte was taken a back on how we started at Spuds on Thursday night, maybe it was naive or share confidence.

    One thing for sure the game was delicately poise, I would have like to see how the gaffer would have managed such a beautiful game if the penalty incident never took place.
    Not sure that penalty would have been given against Pool or City IMO.

    Having said that, how we started out is the exact type game the Spuds like when teams come at them, so the great Conte seems surprised by the initiative taken by the gaffer.

    Maybe Tottenham would have beaten us despite the way we started and barring the penalty incident, but we will never know, what we do know is that the gaffer already set the tone for Tyneside come Monday night.

    So if Arsenal should pull off these wins with controversy or not , it would be a new dawn in mind games at its best, a certain fan would have been right the gaffer not only hungry but very clever

  15. Two completely separate thoughts from me.

    Firstly, as I have come to expect from Dan, a motley group of his odd personal reasons why he thinks MA is not up to the job. Of course I reject his conclusion as the nonsense it is!.
    Now to the second and IMPORTANT thought, which to be fair to DAN’S headline( actually Ad PATS In reality but lets assume DAN agrees with it, as I think he does), asks the pertinent question of MA”s REAL thoughts behind his refusal to publicly blame his players.

    It is widely and generally accepted that for any manager to slaughter players for stupidity, but in a public TV interview, usually does immense damage to the teams cause. So it is wise that he did not do so. Next question, which that last sentence begs though, is DOES MA himself believe his own afteer match statements.

    Now this is more layered an answer, if we want the whole truth. I am a theatre reviewer and know bad acting when I see it. THEREFORE I definitely do believe that in the moment (during that interview) MA was NOT acting and he believed we were robbed.
    BUT extremely few football folk- managers, coaches, players, even the like of AFTV fans interviewed after games- have ANY acting skills at all and are ruthlessly honest in giving their views , AS THEY SEE THEM AT THAT TIME.
    Now to the crux of what matters; does MA, after he had calmed down and seen sense , let’s say by next morning, when he would have watched endless replays,STILL believe Holding and Cedric were unlucky and that we were robbed? I say not a chance in a million!

    The whole truth and in full context and in my opinion, as I SPEAK ONLY FOR MYSELF, is that in common with virtually every other manager on the planet, MA is fierce in publicly defending his players from outsider accusations of stupidity and of letting the team down, in the moments that matter.
    Further, MA also knows only too well that Holding was acting under orders, albeit Holding was doing so willingly, to stop Son scoring and stay close to him throughout.

    It would be professional suicide ,esp with large chunks of our fanbase, to publicly admit he had “encouraged” the behaviour that resulted(quite rightly too) in Holding being sent off. So he avoided any pertinent comment, save for what he hinted but stopped short of actually saying about the ref.
    To sum up, essentially I SAY THIS: MA would have preferred not to have to use Holding but injuries and our too small squad are now chickens coming home to roost. We took a huge chance to reduce the defence in numbers and not add a single player of any use in January.

    That has now IMO, proved to be taking a chance too far and has cost us. We always knew Tierney had “glass legs” and that Holding is slow, clumsy and is not remotely of the quality we need, in particular WHEN OPPOSING TOP CLASS PLAYERS LIKE SON.
    MA now feels the same frustration and anger that most of us do over this wrong decision to reduce our defence to the bare bones.

    For further context on THAT risky and wrong decision, we need to mention that Kroenke had almost certainly told MA that IF he wished to buy top quality players this coming summer, then he HAD to first reduce squad numbers and thus the wage bill.

    So It was a trade off between one ideal scenario and another. IMO, it was always too risky and so it has proved.
    But, to state the bl…ing obvious, THERE ARE STILL TWO GAMES TO PUT THINGS RIGHT

    1. But Jon, surely you are not saying that Mikel told Holding to go out and commit foul after foul, ignore the referees spoken warning, then receive a yellow card, only to let him carry on and get sent off?
      Holding is a proven professional footballer, with years of experience and knowledge.

      Holding failed Arteta, but then Arteta failed Holding.

      If you go back and read the comments as the game progressed, fans on JA were predicting that Holding was going to be sent off – now if it was that obvious, why didn’t Mikel react to the situation?

      Holding was petrified with regard to Son’s pace and needed support… he didn’t get it, either on or off the pitch, in my opinion.

      Having said that, one cannot blame MA for the kamikaze tackles and reaction from Rob, it was, without doubt, his worst performance in our shirt.
      How was Mikel to know he would be so outclassed?
      It has never happened before and it reminded me of how Lukaka bullied our defence earlier in the season, but that time it was White.

      OT Watching the fa cup and anyone who says this competition doesn’t matter, should watch the commitment, despite what lays ahead for both clubs.

      1. KEN you actually felt the need to ask, and seriously ask too, that ludicrous first sentence question ! YE GODS! ARE WE ON DIFFERENT PLANETS OR WHAT!
        Where in my words does it say anything about “MA telling Holding to go and commit foul after foul”?

        Leaving my sarcasm to one side for a moment though, WHAT I DID WRITE,but which you seem not to notice or think worthy of comment (as in agreeing with it!), was the piece about our understrength squad, esp in defence. Surprised -or am I tbh, that failed to register with you! I also specifically mentioned the MA necessary choice between leaving the squad numbers bare in JAN, compared to having money to spend this summer.

        Again, it failed to register as an important part of my whole post You would rather criticise my thoughts as ever! Nothing new there then.

        1. Sorry Jon, if I upset you by asking a question from a direct quote that reads as follows:

          “Further, MA also knows only too well, that Holding was acting UNDER ORDERS, albeit Holding was doing so willingly, to stop Son scoring and stay close to him throughout”.

          Now, as I read that, you ARE saying that Holding was doing what Arteta instructed him to do – if I’m wrong, what, exactly, ARE you saying?

          As for the rest of you post, I had nothing to question you about, so I really don’t understand your bluster and criticism regarding that.

          Back to that “quote” now and can you tell me what you were trying to say, if it wasn’t that Holding was following Arteta’s instructions / orders?

    2. Stopped at odd reasons quote
      Never said he wasn’t up to the job
      Purely was reacting to a 3-0 defeat
      Imagine a gooner not being positive about a 3-0 defeat to Spurs ?
      I’m sure when we beat them 3-1 at the Emiraites they were all positive ?


        1. I said 8th is not acceptable and that my opinion is we will mentally not have enough to finish top 4 , that my opinion
          Have we regressed under him ..?…yes
          Jon ….so you never mocked Wenger for ‘ only’ challenging for 4th ?
          Because I can send you link ?

  16. the pen was a bad call I have no doubt about that. Holding was also bad tho and I cant argue against either yellows. He was rattled from kickoff and we’ve seen all season that in important games we fail to control our emotions and make bad decisions. This is something Arteta has to keep working on with this group of players. Far too many reds far too many times we are putting ourselves into bad situations.

  17. But anyway, I think Arteta’s Arsenal has already gotten something in Europa League Cup qualification next season out of this season. This is against the 8th place finish that they got consecutively in the last two season campaigns. Which saw us missed out on European football altogether.

    At any rate, as Arsenal are striving Hard to upgrade the 5th place finish that they’ve already secured this season to a top4 place finish. Let us Gooners pray and keep praying for the Gunners to achieve this feast for Arsenal in their away match to Newcastle and at hone against Everton with wins over them to make the top4 place finish at season’s end.

  18. Sorry Jon, if I upset you by asking a question from a direct quote that reads as follows:

    “Further, MA also knows only too well, that Holding was acting UNDER ORDERS, albeit Holding was doing so willingly, to stop Son scoring and stay close to him throughout”.

    Now, as I read that, you ARE saying that Holding was doing what Arteta instructed him to do – if I’m wrong, what, exactly, ARE you saying?

    As for the rest of you post, I had nothing to question you about, so I really don’t understand your bluster and criticism regarding that.

    Back to that “quote” now and can you tell me what you were trying to say, if it wasn’t that Holding was following Arteta’s instructions / orders?
    Looking forward to your explanation Jon.

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