Stop Crossing The Ball In The Air by Dan Smith
Ironically, I wrote an article last week about fans feeling the need to make players scapegoats. Then Xhaka does the one thing against Burnley which …. made him a scapegoat.
I felt so sorry for Arteta…
As a former player himself, he’s more than enough aware that confidence is such a fragile thing.
He just needs a win and who knows? Something to build on. He would have looked at Sunday as an ideal chance to get three points, then his midfielder does that.
I can’t defend Xhaka, and he has to accept that people will yet again question his mentality. In an era where VAR is dissecting every last detail it’s not like he was trying to rough up the opposition on the sly, thinking he would get away with it. Like Pepe at Leeds, he simply lost his head.
Would we have lost without the red card? Probably not.
Should it paper over all cracks? No!
In that sense it’s been a blessing for our manager, with more focus on the sending off then a below par performance.
Some gooners have said we were playing well up until Xhaka grabbed his opponents throat but that depends the standards you set for the team. Having a couple of tame efforts on target at home to a side who were in the bottom three should be standard, not something we view as proof of progress.
One man’s mistake shouldn’t give a free pass to the likes of Aubameyang.
Most importantly, to find a solution we have to identify the problem. My stance remains that we picked a man with zero experience to be in charge, so it would be harsh to sack him less than a year later for having no experience.
I also think under the current ownership you would just end up repeating the cycle every 12 months.
Wake up some of you, an Allegri isn’t going to work for Stan Kroenke. If that was our ambition, we wouldn’t have swapped Arsene Wenger for Unai Emery.
As much as I want our former captain to succeed, I accept it’s a results business and under that criteria I couldn’t argue if a change was made (just don’t expect a world class coach to arrive).
My line in terms of when a boss has to go is ‘once it’s clear he’s lost the dressing room’.
Not saying that’s right or fair. Players shouldn’t have that much power, but history shows, once you lose a dressing room, you’re in trouble.
This time last Xmas it was clear Uni Emery had lost the dressing room. I don’t get that sense yet under the current regime. The squad has lost its confidence of course. But that’s not the same as not having faith in your coach.
What Arteta’s job now is to find a way to lift morale. Because he’s a rookie, we don’t know if he can do that. When he was learning off Pep Guardiola, the task of improving confidence never really arose, it tends to not be an issue when your winning every domestic trophy.
My concern is (as someone who wants Arteta to succeed) is it’s often said that when a manager is under pressure, they start to make strange decisions.
We for years have been a team who would dominate possession and had to work out ways to unlock a defence. We have resorted to aimlessly crossing the ball into the box with zero thought.
It’s a lack of bravery. Instead of taking risks, everyone is just playing it safe, scared to fail.
Arteta isn’t helping by ordering them to not play through the middle because if you’re a Sean Dyche, you want the Gunners going out wide.
I was hoping that after the North London Derby Arteta was just focusing on the positives, not wanting to be critical of his players in public.
My worry is after the weekend it’s clear he thinks this is our best method of scoring. It’s hard to work out where he would have got this ‘crossing in the air’ from. It’s not like at Man City that’s their style of play.
Or even when he played under Arsene Wenger, who trusted his players to have the patience and belief that eventually you wear down teams by keeping the ball and eventually will unlock the door.
Here’s a stat for you (I’m sad I counted this). Arsenal scored 45 goals in Arteta’s first campaign.
Do you want to know how many were headers? 3! 3 from Auba.
So every time you see a cross in the air and a player heading it at goal, you know that’s not our strengths. Quick movement, running off the ball, one touch passing is. So it begs the question, why now?
I hope our manager simply feels there is a lack of confidence and this is a way to end our goal drought. Hopefully one of his assistants will take him to one side and suggest dropping it and quickly.
I bet after writing this, Auba scores a hat trick of headers! I would never be happier to be proven wrong!
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