The key issues that Arteta has to fix very quickly


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,


Tags Aubameyang Saliba tactics


  1. Whoever proposed that Mustafi should get contract extension is not serious about the interests of Arsenal. The other issue is Xhaka. This guy will never try hard to penetrate the midfield. When he gets the ball, he’ll turn around and face his own goal post in order to make back pass. Arteta should try other combinations in the midfield, instead of playing Xhaka week in and out

  2. Good article. What I feel is that if MA is of the opinion that his team and players are more comfortable in the 343 formation than stick to it. Do not succumb to fan pressure and play 433 for the sake of it. Good teams in Italy and Spain are comfortable in 343 system and play well. It gives a defensive solidity and attacks can be conjured through the wings or over the top as we do not have a classy no.10. Also the idea of not playing Saliba is mysterious and the chopping and changing of players also leads to inconsistency. I always feel Elneny is better than Xhaka and if he is playing a 343 system, MA should employ Partey and Ceballos in the centre of the park and give Ceballos the license to attack freely in which he is very good. MA should play to the players strengths rather than overcomplicating the matter. Keep it straight and simple. All in all Arteta is still doing ok, I feel, butt the results should start coming soon in the PL or else top 4 will soon be out of sight. United, Villa, Leeds and Wolves are our next four games and we should atleast get 10 points from them to impose ourselves in the League.

  3. I am behind Arteta but that does not stop me from criticising him.

    To me he is turning out to be a one trick pony. Just defensive, conservative and cautious style. Does not seem to know what to do apart from setting up defensively.

    I thought we played this style last season because of the dead players had his disposal.
    Thought this season would be a bit defined with some of his own signings and having had a solid half season as our manager. But don’t see any improvement or change.

    I just want him to unleash the team, lets see if they can play attacking football.

  4. Some excellent ,pertinent points Funsho.From the outside, it is difficult to fathom the reasoning behind the decisions not to give Nelson and AMN an opportunity which has been afforded to others, who cost a lot and are highly paid. Players should be judged on performance on the pitch and not the amount of their transfer fee. Injuries have to an extent influenced team selection particularly at centre back but I agree wholeheartedly with your comments on Mustafi, who cost 35m and still has not a clue when it comes to positional sense.I sincerely hope he accompanies Socratis and Ozil out of the door when their disastrous contracts expire.Whatever shortcomings Saliba may have, a lack of pace is not one of them, and I sincerely hope he is given a chance to start sooner rather than later.It must be frustrating for the young guy to see his former collegue fit in so well for Leicester, which begs the question, did we sign the right young player?

  5. Another enjoyable read Funsho – always worth reading an article from someone of intellect who CAN also write properly – though it must be said that I do not go along with more than about half of all you wrote.

    I do not agree that MA”urgently needs to decide on several key issues”. My view is that he knows what he wants but has not the talent among existing players to get all he wants, and so he is settling for solidity andplaying the percentage game(as we have talented dtrikers but none are playing to their best right now). That will change but some fans need far more patience and have unrealistic expectations. That is where I DIFFER FROM MANY ON HERE and I am resolved to give MA A PROPER CHANCE TO SUCCEED.

    Unlike many, I realise that will mean time to bring in his own imports and rid us of our still prominent deadwood. I play fair! I am also A GLASS HALF FULL MAN. More than half full actually and already containing two trophies in a paltry ten months

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