It’s no disgrace to lose to this Man City team, but Arsenal just rolled over and died…

Arsenal Let Moment Pass Them By by Dan Smith

There’s zero disgrace losing to this Man City side. Sometimes you have to up your hands and admit when a team is better than you. Make zero mistake, this Man City are better than us.

It’s why I argued I would bite your hand off for a draw before kicking off, because our record at the Etihad is so poor.

What’s not acceptable though is rolling over and dying.

If you were an alien watching this sport for the first time you would be shocked to know we were the side top of the table. You would be even more amazed to learn the stakes on the line in this match.

How many ex Gunners talked about the current version needing the game of their lives? A chance to write themselves into our proud history?

An opportunity to become immortal.

Even the likes of Roy Keane and Gary Neville were positive about how we should approach Wednesday.

Both pundits spoke about how Pep Guardiola gets excited by these fixtures. How a Haaland and De Bruyne play with a smile on their faces the bigger the occasion.

They argued there was zero reason Arsenal’s players didn’t do the same. After all, what a position to be in, 6 games left and your destiny in your own hands in a title race. That’s something to embrace not fear.

How many of our players played with a smile on their faces compared to being terrified?

Personally, I asked how many in our squad truly believed they could get a result in Manchester?

Arteta said he would ‘kill’ his players if there was any self-doubt. Yet from the first second we played like a team who had an inferior complex.

We backed off, not even pressing when Ederson had the ball. We let the Champions play their game. It was too easy for them to get in while we again just passed the ball sideways.

Our manager has to take responsibility as well.

After three draws his response was essentially to play the same system.

I said it would be neglect for the Spaniard to wake up on Thursday realising certain individuals bottled it when the evidence had been apparent the previous Friday. Yet apart from Xhaka’s return from illness he went for the same line up.

It’s not a coincidence that with so much on the line we responded with our worst performance of the season.

Just like 12 months ago we didn’t show up at Spurs and Newcastle when top 4 was on the line.

I said it all season long, mentally this was too big a step for our youngsters. That’s okay.What’s not okay is not showing up. Not fighting. Letting a moment pass you by.

All I ever ask is for Arsenal to be the best version of themselves.

All season we have been, but once again when it mattered, we proved to be mentally weak.




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  1. Yeah it’s weird how the team rallied against Southampton, Aston Villa and Bournemouth but against City there was no fight from the kick off til the whistle.

    1. Really… guys are so blinkered

      I hate city and what they stand for

      But last night was an absolute master class and footballing lesson….we weren’t that bad….

      They were SOOOOO good it was frightening

      Our lads have played almost every game… lot on 70% of games

      We have been stretched and performed way better than any of us could have hoped for

      1. Why are people with a different view to you ‘blinkered’? Some of us can tell a poor performance from simply being overrun. I’ve seen plenty of the former over the decades, the latter less than a handful.

        Last was a poor performance.

        1. They are blinkered because it is narrow-minded and disrespectful to the team to simply reduce the result and performance to having a lack of fight.
          It was not a good performance. However, the performance needs to be contextualised.

          1. Its those who refuse to accept a bad performance that enabled our opponents to walk all over us that are ‘blinkered’ not those who do. Or one eyed, or whatever. It’s called making excuses, and if the manager does the same thing (he won’t) God help us. From the very start the team looked terrified and sluggish. That’s down to them – not City. If every team said ‘oh what’s the point in giving them a game’ and played full of fear and handed over four goals and three points, City would be champions already, and people like yourself would be cursing their spinelessness. Now what’s the word I’m searching for now, oh yes, hypocricy..

  2. In my opinion, our players had put in extra efforts, but Man City exploited our spine’s weaknesses very well

    As I said, Guardiola knows a lot about the way we play, so we’ll need more physical players next season. Our technical players won’t be able to do much if the opposition have a very good understanding of our tactics

    The processes of Man City’s first two goals showed that strength, pace and aerial ability can be the winning factors, if both teams play with similar systems throughout the season

      1. Odegaard is usually dependable when we play against mid-table and small teams. We just need to sign a new CF and CB, unless Balogun can do a much better hold-up play than other Arsenal CFs

        1. What is the essence of having a player that is only good against lower and mid-table teams and not against the big teams?
          We def need an upgrade. He can be a back up.

  3. I’d like to think it’s not true but your comment has a ring of truth about it. At the same time, some key players have lost their mojo. Jesus rising from his sickbed was not the resurrection we thought it would be. Odegaarde ain’t gonna lead us to the promised land and Zinchenko looks like he’s skidaddled with his 30 pieces of silver ( OK that’s enough religion. Ed).

  4. I wouldn’t agree they’ve been mentally strong all season, the warning signs have been there in key matches all along. However, they bounced back from those defeats so the warning signs were ignored. After all, why would you care when top and clear?

    Unfortunately, it meant that when the run in started, and pressure mounted, the teams tendency to crumble, became a major issue. Falling apart as a one off is not good, but if you bounce back fans naturally assume all is still well. When you fall apart four games in a row, its clear a real problem has emerged.

    Last night needs to be a wake up call for all involved. The manager let it go (based on subsequent results) after Liverpool, but things got worse not better. Trying to brush off a spineless showing by claiming ‘City didnt let us play’ is a recipe for disaster. Arteta needs to sit down with them, spell out what went right (nothing) and what went wrong, then tell them in no uncertain terms that cannot happen again.

    Hopefully against Chelsea we’ll see evidence of that.

    1. Arteta need to learn and learn quickly there are very few teams that can go toe to toe with city, this was our third game against them and he learned nothing so far he would have been better served trying to control the midfield with as an example a 4-5-1 formation with White as rb Holding and Gabriel as cb Tierney as lb in midfield he could have fielded Odegaard Partey Jorginio Xhaka and Zinchenko and have Jesus as the lone striker. Even a draw would have suited our charge for the title instead he goes toe to toe with a 3 man midfield against De Bruine Gondogan Bernado. It was a mis match we were slaughtered. This is especially disappointing because last year playing for top 4 be fell apart at the business end of the season guess what it looks like the exact same scenario is playing itself out this time seemingly being in control fighting for the league. And yes I recognise that we are currently doing better that what we did last year yet this collapse is a bitter pill to swallow draws against Liverpool West ham and Southampton, Games we should have easily won that’s 6 points dropped. I can go on and on about Artera using the same players week after week and only making injury inforced changes or in the game when the team needs a win or Saka and Martinelli being burned out 2 months ago already but I guess it’s too late for that now, let’s look forward to champions league football next year and disregard the fact that we had our best chance to win the league in about two decades. Rant over

      1. We started losing grip on the title from the Liverpool game. From that game I feared we were about start downward spiral. Thank we already or almost qualified for top 4. If the gap between us and Man U was 5 points right now, we could be out of top 4 come May 28th. The problem is our team is tired both physically and mentally. Arteta should have rotated the team against Westham and Southampton. Saka has played nearly 40 games this season for club and country. Debruyne has been benched more than ten times this season. The reason why he was so energetic against us. Arteta needs to trust our bench and rotate a bit.

  5. Dan, I must tip my hat to you! Your beautiful piece was a much-needed relief after the painful game we watched last night. You truly captured the essence of it all, and I have the utmost respect for you.

    In any facet of life, achieving championship status requires a mastery of various dimensions beyond those of your competitors. In my opinion, the Arsenal team has mastered many of these dimensions, which I have mentioned in previous articles, but there is still much more to be learned.

    True champions never give up! We have five more games left, and our players must persevere until the very end. This should be our rallying cry!


  6. We were always likely to lose this game regardless of form, but the performance was completely unacceptable in a game of that importance.

    Despite the poor results in the lead up to this game, at least there were solid moments in our previous performances to lean on.

    We bossed both Liverpool and West Ham for the opening half an hour away from home, and along with the epic comeback against Southampton, there were some positives to take from those games.

    However against City, it was a lifeless, passive performance. Only Ramsdale turned up on the day!

    I never like to make one person responsible, win, lose or draw, but this is on Arteta for me. Too many times he’s decided to go toe-to-toe against City, and it never works.

    His only success against Pep was playing counter attacking football, which we are actually built for with the speed and mobility we have in the team, yet he never wants to?

    I understand the importance of sticking to your own style, and in doing so, that’s why we have progressed, and perform so well in the big games. But now and again, you have to be willing to change tactics, and this was the time to do it.

    Other teams with less quality than us have beaten City, with men behind the ball and hitting them on the counter. I just wish Arteta would give this a go. Then you wouldn’t have seen the big open gaps that KDB and Haaland were constantly running into.

    1. Agree 100%. Only one team goes toe to toe with City and gets a result – Liverpool at Anfield. There is no point in sitting deep and inviting pressure, you need to have an attacking option, but, as you say counter attacking is the only realistic option when playing City.

      1. Even Liverpool play counter attack against City. Just that they have the technical ability to also possess the ball. However, the decisive moment in those games for Liverpool have come when they play quickly in transition.

        1. Good point(s). Klopps sides rely heavily on pace, and quickly turn regained possession into an attack. Hence they look less effective now Mane has left, Firmino is leaving and Salah looks unsettled. Having said that, they could yet again snatch a CL spot from nothing.

    2. Really,
      So if we had set up defensively and lost by the odd goal would you have been satisfied?
      Whatever way you look at it this was always going to be a difficult game.
      MC at the Etihad is an extremely difficult challenge for any team and the game difficult however we set up.

      1. I would have 100% been happy if we had set up defensively, even in defeat, because at least we would trying something different for once. Madness is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Which is Arteta against Pep all over!

        Going defensive would have actually caught Pep off guard. I am not saying we would have been successful, but we setup exactly like we always do, thus making it so easy for Pep.

        1. Tbh it would have been better to try out different formations in the games running up to City. That would have given it a few games to bed in. Unfortunately, as you say, Arteta does tend to get hung up on a game plan, and if it doesn’t work, well, we’re in trouble.

          I totally agree that has we played a sweeper system and looked to counter that would have yielded a better result.

          What people tend to forget is that footballers ‘are’ just human. They went into the City game on the back of two collapses and their worst performance of the season. That doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence when facing the best team in the league and current champions. In the harsh light of day they played just as badly against Southampton, but the Saints are not City. A bad performance against the latter meant only one thing.

        2. I am sure you believe this. However, what you have said about Arteta is not accurate. Arteta has used different set ups against Man City over the years. The issue is that they haven’t worked.
          Also, this Arsenal team is not one that is used to defending for long periods. Asking them to be set up to defend for 90 minutes or more against one of the most dangerous attacking teams in world football, well, that is just asking for trouble.
          Insisting that such an approach would have yielded a better result as some have suggested is disingenuous as there is no way of knowing this.

          1. David it would be nice if they could defend at all. Whether it be for 90 minutes or 5 minutes. How I miss Adams, Campbell etc. Just nostalgia I’m afraid.

          2. Well pressing high, with a high defensive line, clearly didn’t work, and not for the first time. And for the majority of games against City, this is what we do under Arteta.

            He has only ever had one success against Pep, so why not try that system again?

  7. Pat is spot on,on it is ok to lose, but not in the way we did.
    But the problem is not so much yesterday , but the three games prior. Had we have four, just four more points, we won’t have to go all out from the get go. A draw would hold them back, and hope for the best in the next few games. Going forward like we did is suicidal playing City on their own turf.

    1. But even then would we have drawn
      Moment we drew at Anfield a City win meant it was in their hands

  8. Folks, with this young team we obviously need some experience also, some steel, otherwise nothing will change

    1. Even the “greatest manager in the universe” lost umpteen times to Pep & Jose with “seniors” like Ozil & co. At least in donkeys years we led the the table till April. Earlier our seasons would end in early December, plus we won our very own “Top Two Trophy” which is a big step forward. Kudos to Mikel, the coaches and players.

        1. Mate, when Mikel joined us we were on course to win the “Top 13 Trophy”, Mikel to the rescue and we finished 8th. When papa was fired, twice he lost his own “Top Four Trophee hehehe”. Disgrace!

  9. Again, I don’t think it was about fighting, although we could’ve done better on the odd occasion we got into their penalty area, but we’ve always had about 10x the opportunities as resulting goals. It was all about Holding and his inability to cover the midfield area as well as Saliba and Tomy. That isn’t his fault, that is just what he is, so knowing that, why didn’t we make an effort to cover it, by bringing on Jorghino instead of Xhaka to double up with Partey? Pep would’ve studied the videos from the last three games, seen the weakness in Holding and ruthlessly exploited it, as he did by drawing out Holding with Haaland, while getting KDB to run in behind. It would be great if we could switch managers for the week, and see the result of the game, I believe not being confident in the rear guard has a lot to do with the current gameplay. Arteta has done wonders, but his lack of flexibility worries me.

  10. I was honestly expecting the back four to change considering the issues we’ve had in the last 3 or 4 games but Arteta gambled and it backfired. I was hoping he would drop Zinch, Jesus, Holding and Partey but he kept faith and them and honestly they failed him. Hopefully it’s something to learn from for the manager. I couldn’t get a good sleep, not for the loss but for the manner at we we did it.

  11. Where’s this new mentality that’s been mentioned so much?

    Reality is we’ve beeb so good we’ve barely been tested. Now that we’ve been tested, we’ve failed. No win in 4 games, genuinely where is this new mentality?

  12. The players never believed they could win and it showed was like rabbit in headlights men v boys whatever you want to call it we absolutely bottled it I doubt we will even beat Chelsea and 2nd spot not guaranteed with Newcastle only 10 behind way we are playing might not win another game this season!

  13. Sorry Dan for wrongly attributing your article yo Pat.
    Also, surely a draw would still mean City has the upper hand, but at least there would still be a glimmer of hope.

  14. Hate to say this but sometimes just playing for a draw… maybe a bit like Mourinho “parking the bus” in order to get what you want works sometimes. Arteta was just too Wenger-ish against City , sticking to the same plan and hoping something happens…

    1. It can, but you need a defensive formation that is rock solid, and likewise the defence. Do you fancy our defence achieving that?

  15. Arteta suffers from the Wenger syndrome of not adapting his style of play,city new arsenal were good at pressing and they decided to go long but we kept playing from the back even when it was not working,in the Last 3 games our inverted fullback style of play was not working but we still played the same way,I wish we could have given Emery time and the players he requested he wanted partey we gave him toreira,he wanted zaha we gave him pepe,he wanted akanji we gave him sokratis,he wanted wan bisaka we gave him Cedric,last seasons last 4 games and this seasons Last 4 games have shown artetas inexperience next season we need 4 players to be competitive if not forget top 4.

  16. Gary Neville seems not only have been a proper full back,
    but also a formidable prophet !! The job for summer is to
    close in on the quality of this Man city team,

  17. I’m upset we have lost the title in this manner but I’m always happy whenever a consistent problem shows up because its now publicly out there that Arteta needs to address it. Our Defense and Midfield is a long lasting project from the invincible days of requiring physicality both as a form of intimidation and effectiveness. Holding is a trauma defender, he is a solid defender but belongs in a smaller team or a team where defence is their thing. What we need are more tanks with pace. Replace holding, buy a good strong and pacy LB to replace tierney get Rice and Caicedo in the team. We need to learn how to play a deep 4-1-4-1 without the ball against teams who can hurt us or else even Newcastle will surpass us if they by the right attacking signings

  18. We started losing grip on the title from the Liverpool game. From that game I feared we were about start downward spiral. Thank we already or almost qualified for top 4. If the gap between us and Man U was 5 points right now, we could be out of top 4 come May 28th. The problem is our team is tired both physically and mentally. Arteta should have rotated the team against Westham and Southampton. Saka has played nearly 40 games this season for club and country. Debruyne has been benched more than ten times this season. The reason why he was so energetic against us. Arteta needs to trust our bench and rotate a bit.

  19. Am not embittered because we lost to manc. But furious because we played them with so much respect and fear. I agree with you Dan that you will not believe that it’s same team that has been topping the league with that performance. Arteta is to blame once again no matter what his foot soldiers may say. How can you do same thing over and again and expect same result? Does it mean that Arteta is bereft with tactical nuances? What magic do you want the team to perform without any flexibility and dynamism with your approach to games. For crying out loud, you are playing against human beings who can process, interpret and analyse your team. That’s what every other team is doing against us. They just study our players and clip their wings. It’s truly embarrassing how this team is collapsing with every passing game. Take it or leave it, with Arteta refusing to be dynamic with his approach to games and his continuous playing with same set of players, another “bottling” is looming.

  20. Enough of this post mortem, feeling sorry for oneself nonsense. It is a disgrace. Ideally we shot just learn from it by discarding the rubbish, sign the players we need and regroup. Of course City has a much better squad than ours. But there were players in that team yesterday who were just not up to the task.

  21. It’s more than just “new players,”, Arteta must also address the inflexible tactics, lack of rotation, and not dropping unproductive players when their form dips.

    Not only players need to adapt, but managers as well. Hopefully next year Arteta will adapt and evolve after learning from last year’s and this year’s collapse.

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