HELLO MIKEL, TIME TO SHOW WHAT YOU’VE GOT UP YOUR SLEEVES! by Funsho
HOLA to all my Gooner-Amigos out there!
Obviously, this writer hasn’t been writing for a while now, not for a lack of editorial topics to write on, but a combination of inability to watch Arsenal’s matches and a lack of time due to work commitments have contrived to prevent any allowance for writing.
Gladly, the schedule was kind this weekend, and thus, there was time to watch Arsenal play. And with today being a rare day off work, it’s only right to conjure something Arsenal-related together. Accordingly, this is an opinion post calling on Arteta to do something quickly before he loses these set of players and/or the fans… like the last manager did; and because some folks interpret articles based on what’s on their mind rather than what was actually written, let’s first make the following assertions: This is not an Arteta Out article, it’s not saying Arteta and Emery are the same in coaching quality/class, not saying Arteta has lost the dressing room, and it’s also not saying fans calling for Arteta’s head already are justified.
The article is about how the manager urgently needs to decide on several key issues, find balance (rather than remain obsessed with defending like the last manager) and start churning up good results with the talents at his disposal. So, if you see anyone in the comments bashing the writer on the points cleared above, don’t be mad at them; I can assure you they didn’t thoroughly read the entire article.
To start with, apart from lack of creativity, three things SEEM to be working against Mikel Arteta’s team now, and mentioned in no specific order of effect on their gameplay are: the seeming ‘marking out’ of Aubameyang in games by opposing teams; Arteta’s lack of knowledge about his best 11 and the probable pressure of wanting to measuring up to the trophy-winning standards of last season.
The fact that his Gunners team are harder to breakdown now and they do not concede chances left, right and centre shows the defensive improvement made so far; but then like Oliver Twist, Arsenal fans want more in the form of attacking impetus along with the new-found defensive solidity. Now that your main attacking outlet (i.e. the long balls to Aubameyang which puts the striker in 1-vs-1 situations with defenders on the left channel of the opponent’s goal area) has been found out, over to you to find a new solution in attack to punish your opponents.
Similarly, with the Leicester loss being the 3rd after just 6 round of EPL games, this is no time for “long-drawn tactical experiments” (playing a back four is a good start) and the overthinking of tactical set-ups. Make your mind up ASAP, and don’t give your players complicated instructions.
For instance in the Leicester loss, while the extra defensive jobs by Xhaka and Ceballos on the wings gave Tierney and Bellerin the chance to join attacks, it may have hampered their creative contributions from midfield, especially for the Spaniard, who was hopeless for the most part. There’s also that deja-vu feeling from Emery’s tenure (changing formations every week) every time you see the chopping and changing of personnel our manager does, without allowing the players to build a consistent run in the team. One week AMN is starting, but then you don’t see him for the next 4. Reiss Nelson does well versus Leicester in the cup, but he’s rewarded with no match day inclusions for the next few. Lacazette scores 3 in a row and then gets dropped for the next 2. Then there is Nicolas Pepe who can’t seem to get 5/6 straight starts in a row! The manager stuck with Bellerin through some bad patches and now needs to do same for others starting with our £72m signing.
In addition, tough decisions like not playing Saliba yet must start making sense and producing results. Come to think of it: If Wesley Fofana (Saliba’s CB partner at St. Etienne) played fine against Arsenal the other day, if Mustafi (after not playing for months) was at fault for not covering the space in front of Vardy despite earlier warnings by Gabriel, and if you won’t even have Saliba in the Europa League squad, how can the rationale of “easing in the teenage defender” not be much scrutinized afterwards?
Holding, Chambers, Mari and now David Luiz are all at different stages of rehab, it may now be time to EASE SALIBA INTO THAT YANITED GAME rather than play the error-prone Mustafi (who just rejected a new contract from the club, btw). Chuckles! Who offered him the contract? Do they seriously wanna keep Mustafi at Arsenal? Laughable move!
Finally, since this writer has never worked a day in football, the highlighted points may have some missing pieces that could be picked apart through the experienced goggles of more football literate fellows, but one thing is certain: football fans are fickle in nature and they’ll turn against you if mediocrity and poor performances persist. Emery lost 3 in 13 games and got the sack last season; Arteta’s record in his first full season is comparatively worse as of now, but the FA Cup and CommShield wins will buy him some more time, won’t they? The question is: for how long? And like a friend asked after the Leicester match, will Arsenal ever be great again? If yes, will it be under Senor Mikel?
Well… Mikel, whether or not it will happen under your tutelage, the ball is now fully in your court.
Really appreciate you reading along,