What did Arsenal fans expect from Arteta this season?

What is expected of Arteta? by ThirdmanJW
I recently wrote an article detailing why Arteta needs more time, and highlighting the progress he has made, and as with any article, some agreed, and some did not agree with what I said. I have no issue with those disagreeing, in fact, life would be boring if everyone always agreed on everything. The issue I had, is that those who disagreed, did not really give a detailed explanation as to why?
Many want Arteta gone, or have done so since day one of his appointment, but I have rarely seen a compelling case to back up their arguments. I too, was fuming that he was our new manager, but it was only fair that I gave him my support, and he has won me over.
I think it is all too easy to look at the league table as a way of quantifying Arteta’s performance. Of course, we should be doing better, but as highlighted in my previous article, not as much as people think. Especially given how crazy this season has been so far. I never like to deflect away from our own problems, by referencing other club’s struggles, but this has been an extraordinary season. Far better, and more experienced managers like Klopp, and Mourinho are having nightmare seasons! In context, they are performing worse than Arteta. Who would have thought that West Ham would be challenging for a Champions League position after 2/3’s of the season? Who could have foreseen Sheff Utd’s diabolical form after their performances last season?  So, I think this is a valid point.
I don’t want to rehash everything I said before on Arteta, but one needs to acknowledge what he inherited, and that there has been progress. So, bullet points will be an easier, and quicker. Find me a manager who inherited a worse situation.
What Arteta inherited
  • Worst Arsenal squad in over 35 years
  • Lack of funds, not just because of Kroenke, but from the gross-mismanagement of player sales, and contracts under Wenger and Gazidis
  • Terrible culture at the club. Too much player power, lack of discipline, no accountability from top to bottom
  • Over decade-long problem of poor defending
  • Confidence at rock bottom, and problems within the dressing room
  • Embarrassing performances that had become far too regular, especially away from home, and against low quality opposition
Progression under Arteta
  • Quality of the squad has improved, via signings and coaching
  • There is still a lack of funds (no real fault of Arteta’s), but hopefully some sales in the summer
  • Big improvement in the culture. Arteta has shown great courage taking on player power. To completely exclude two experienced players for the best part of year, took huge cojones.  There seems to be far more accountability, and discipline within the squad now
  • Big improvement in our defending on a consistent basis. Even in defeat, we no longer get thrashed, or give up so many opportunities on our goal
  • Huge improvement against quality opposition. I think Arteta has won almost half his games against top teams, and we now compete in these fixtures. We don’t get humiliated anymore
  • To win an FA Cup and qualify for Europe, given the situation when Arteta took over, was an unbelievable achievement! As we know from Wenger’s reign towards the end, a cup win doesn’t necessarily mean the club is making overall progression, but Arteta’s victory came so quickly, it’s too early to tell if it was just papering over the cracks, or if it was a sign of his potential.
Arteta has not got everything right, but find me a manager that makes zero mistakes, especially one still learning his trade. Even our terrible attacking as a failing of Arteta’s is becoming a moot point with each passing game. The argument I guess is are we progressing enough, or quickly enough?
The main reason for this article is not to repeat myself, but just to refresh those doubters of the situation Arteta inherited, the progress, and the context of this crazy season.
Obviously, many of you disagree, and I would love to read a detailed explanation as to why? Instead of the usual name calling, or a one sentence answers like “Arteta is clueless”, tell us all, why is he clueless? Why is he a failure? My main question though, is what were you expecting? Arteta or not, where did you expect us to be, given what Emery left, and the deep-rooted problems dating back to the Wenger/Gazidis reign? Did you expect a cup win last season, and European qualification? Should we be above Liverpool right now, challenging for the Top Four places?
I personally thought we would have been better in attack earlier, but I am pleased that is improving game by game. I also thought we would be a little closer to the Top Four, but realistically, I don’t think CL qualification is possible right now. Early exits in the domestic cups were obviously very disappointing. So, we are not that far off from where I thought we might be.
ThirdManJW
Tags Arteta Emery

47 Comments

  1. Gio says:

    Agree with you
    Full support to Mikel and the players!

  2. Uwot? says:

    Not good enough for the “ press the button” instant success mob.You ought to pay a visit to Le grove if u want a taste of that.Miserable & looking for faults even when Arsenal win.You’ve listed accurately the problems Arteta inherited.But Thats disregarded by the naysayers.They don’t want to hear it or acknowledge it.For them you’ve got one season for min top four or EL winners.That’s it.When you challenge them on who is this Messiah that’s going to arrive ,sort out the mess,on a shoestring budget .oh & play wonderful football they have no answer.Youlll never please the muppets no matter what.Such is the modern social media fan base.

  3. McLovin says:

    I expected improvement, just a little. So far, I haven’t seen it although Leicester game was maybe our best of the season so far..?

  4. Dan says:

    My only issue is go back to the summer and many on this site were saying top 4 and even a title challenge
    so those same people can’t now say this is okay

    I back our manager but won’t make excuses for him
    No manager inherits a perfect situation but the fact is that terrible squad he inherited were not finishing 8th or 10th before he arrived so he has to take accountability

    Will never understand this notion that ‘ ignore the table ‘
    The Leauge table is surely the most important aspect ?
    The irony that some blame the previous regime but how come the previous regime never struggled quite like this ?

    1. Benjamin says:

      Yes, I was expecting a top 4, maybe title challenge at the beginning of this season with our squad. But now, I miss Wenger and his “dross players” with Champions League quaranteed.

      1. Henry Lwanga says:

        I think wenger was missing on champions league on so many occasions b4 he left ,he is the reason why we are failing to fix our team ,u sell Henry and buy sanogo and chamach to replace henry ,thats fake confidence

  5. gotanidea says:

    Because of the players’ temperaments and some weird line-ups, we suffered too many unnecessary defeats. So I’d accept a top six finish or at least the seventh position in EPL

    1. towny254 says:

      gotanidea Dream On I cannot see it the next 4 games will tell us

  6. Dan kit says:

    He has my support till the season end because he’s earned the right having won the fa cup but there is no way that this squad of players should be where we are in the league ,I said top 4 when season started and I still think we should be top 4 with the players we have ,big improvements needed for the last push up the league .
    OFC everyone has a different opinion and I can see the other side of the coin with fans wanting him gone ,that does not make you a know nothing immature fan with no life experience like a few on here keep bleating on about it just means you have an opinion that differs ,I’m very much on the fence with him ATM but he still as my support .

    1. Highbury Hero says:

      Thank you Dan for this comment. You support the manager 100% but you also acknowledge his faults.

      For some it appears supporting the manager means to glorify him and defend his every move and decision and also downgrade the quality of the team.

  7. PJ-SA says:

    Expected:

    -Top 6
    -Europe Quarter Final
    -FA Cup Semi Final

    1. durand says:

      PJ-SA
      I would agree with most of that.
      Expected
      -8th place or better finish, otherwise it is regression
      -Europa Final; Emery did that with a lesser squad
      -FA Cup quarterfinal, since we won last year

      I disagree with the author that Arteta has the worst squad in 35 years. First, Emery accomplished more with a worse squad, he played the “deadwood” Arteta exiled.

      Second, Arteta’s man management is lacking; he is still learning though. Not registering Saliba was a mistake he admitted, and he should have played in cup games, or gotten minutes as a sub; he’s solid in the French league currently.

      Also, Tierney as a LCB WTF? Huge mistake, as we see how impactful he is as a LB, should never have been CB with the 7 we had on roster.

      Willian still far off from being a good signing, and his minutes coming at the expense of younger players who need the time in this season where we are done in the league.

      My personal take is if we don’t crack the top 10, don’t make the Europa Final, then decisions should be made.

      18 months and Wenger and Emery sacked for doing better, why should Arteta get more time?

      If we could get Julian Negelsmann, then Arteta should go. If Arteta is not in top 8 next year in December, then he should be fired. 2 years and no improvement is enough time to have an impact; positive or negative, and the table doesn’t lie.

      1. PJ-SA says:

        Agreed that Emery definitely had a worse squad….and could barely speak English ontop of it all.

  8. Gio says:

    People have to realize that those process take time.
    Take the team i support in my country, from 1997 to 2013 they were always a few points to get relegated, but they won one ocasional relevant title (2006,2009,2013) and lost finals to ridiculous teams (2003,2004,2008) a lot of humiliated defeats.
    But that changed, in 2013, when a new president was appointed, he promised, for the first year, terrible and cheap players, and no titles, but in the future, we would become champions.
    So we start slowly becoming better, and having more money to buy better players, but it wasnt instant succes
    Then in 2018, we lost the Final of the Cup (FA CUP), and the Sulamericana (europa league)
    But we already have a good team in hands, just needed a few others.
    In 2019 and 2020, we won 7 titles
    Includind 2 national titles
    and 1 libertadores (champions league)

    Now, everybody here is afraid of playng against us.

    My point is, keep the faith in the manager and the players we have right now
    we are gonna get better.

    Cheers from Brazil!

    ARSENAL+FLAMENGO

  9. Danny says:

    A lot more than what he has done should be comfortably in top 6 now and pushing for top 4 where we are now is simply not good enough!!

    1. jon fox says:

      Danny, NO explanation why, I note with increasing frustration. Merely stating “pushing for top four/ six” is not good enough” is NOT a reason, but just your unexplained opinion.
      Do you actually have any original thoughts of your own as to WHY its not good enough? And if you do, why not tell us , instead of bald, “mean nothing” statements that even a trained monkey could write!

      1. PJ-SA says:

        Jon you can’t demand an explanation from someone, it’s their opinion.

        Who the hell are you that people need to explain themselves to you? You have a God complex, arrogance unrivaled.

  10. Sean M says:

    Agree with the article.

    Team shifted to a defensive counter-attacking style of play in the second half of last season and did well.

    First half of this season was an attempt to transition away from that towards a 4-3-3, results were terrible. Since January 2021, both results and style of play have improved massively (we would be 5th if the league started in January). For me, that – as well as the other points mentioned above – is progress.

    I’m generally glad to see that most fans still seem to be behind MA although understand why not everybody is.

  11. Andrew Elder says:

    My first reaction to Arteta being given the head coach job mid-season 19/20 was that he would need another full season before being judged. Because of this crazy season without crowds I would extend that till the end of 2021 after one more window.

    I would like to know how you reached your opinion that he has inherited the worst squad for over 35 years? Leno, Holding, Tierney, Bellerin, Xhaka, Elneny, Saka, Smith-Rowe, Pepe, Aubameyang and Lacazette are still regular first team players. I wouldn’t call them the worst Arsenal players for 35 years!! What he inherited behind the scenes is conjecture and guesswork on your part to enhance your theory, and anyway nearly all managers have internal issues to deal with (just ask any past and present Chelsea boss). Let’s just judge him on results which was what he was employed to do, he knew what he was taking on.

    As a footnote, AW’s final season (his worst) 19 wins, 74 goals and 63 points finishing 6th. Not bad for the worst squad in 35 years?

    1. ThirdManJW says:

      Using Wenger as an example is to take it out of context, because Wenger never inherited those players. They were all his signings, bar Auba I am guessing, and he had worked with a lot of them for many years.

      The reason I say the worst squad in 35 years, because I am struggling to think of a worse one in that time. Not just ability wise, but the mentality, and zero clue how to defend. If you can name a worse squad I would be interested to see what it is.

      I know we had some dross in the past like Denilson, Squillaci, etc, but they often played with high quality like Cesc though, and others.

      1. Andrew Elder says:

        The squad inherited by Emery from Wenger was arguably inferior to the one Arteta inherited from him. Pepe and Tierney were added and Saka and Smith-Rowe emerged from the youth ranks. So maybe that answers your query? Btw AW did sign Auba.

        1. MartinelliTheBench says:

          I agree Andrew, definitely inferior to the squad now.

  12. jon fox says:

    As, arguably, Artetas single most ardent supporter thus far on JA, I of course agree wholeheartedly with TMJW’S well balanced and mature article. My frustration with those who post hasty judgemental nonsense – almost entirely young fans – mirrors Third Mans own frustrations. I admit to being a man who does not lightly suffer fools and who will always challenge head on the utter nonsense we have to read so often on JA.
    I stand for deep thought, for context and for an ability to properly weigh up all sides of an argument BEFORE deciding my own opinion. Provided fans can and will expain fully why they feel as they do, I will respect them.

    But please don;t ask me to respect those who simply state “I want Arteta out” or “he is clueless”. At least have the wit and intellect to tell us WHY! Any halfwit can write a simple line saying he is rubbish but it takes a brain to spell out why. I do not appreciate people who have a brain, as all we humans do but will not use it. OR are too cowardly to do so.
    I dislike (not “hate” btw) but merely dislike, soundbites and simplistic black or white thinking. In the real world few things are either only black or white Context is always important. So please , those of you who write hastily , at least respect us with a proper REASON for your views.

    That is the right we all have in a democracy; to challenge the views of all others and to do so with fierce rhetoric, IF we deem it necessary. To challenge some views and do so forcefully IS not ABUSE, as some, in dull fashion, seem to “think” but is actually an important safeguard in favour of precious freedom to speak as we feel.

    1. Danny says:

      The problem with you jon Fox is cos your old you think you know better than anyone else and whoever challenges your views you start giving out a load of abuse which is totally uncalled for and you should except everyone is entitled to there opinion whether you like it or not. Arteta would not be Arsenal manager now if we had a owner that has ambitions of challenging for the major trophies and if by a miracle he had been given the job would have been sacked ages ago. As a team we are in the worse position of any manager previously in charge to be 10th is simply not good enough and he is responsible for that. It just goes to show you the incredible job Wenger did and unfortunately looks like Arteta is going to fall well short of those standards!!

      1. Defund The Media says:

        “As a team we are in the worse position of any manager previously in charge to be 10th is simply not good enough”

        Danny bro we finished 12th in the 94/95 season….

      2. Dennis Moriarty says:

        @Danny, you are so right re John Fox. I am an older fan but my opinion is no more valid than that of a much younger fan. His views are his and he is welcome to express them, as are all fans of all ages. This squad should be doing much better at present, I support MA as I have done every manager over the years, but my support is not endless. Let’s hope for better times to come.

      3. Phil says:

        @Danny- yeah mate. I’m with you when it comes to Jon Fox, and he embarrasses himself more and more in my opinion every time he writes.
        Take this post from him. So he says” at least have the WIT and intellect to tell us WHY”, referring of course as to why some argue against Arteta. Yet this bumbling old fool has never once given any reason as to why Arteta is doing a good job and should be kept as manager. He just said a day or so ago Arteta would be in the job for the next FIVE YEARS. Can you believe that? A manager taking us backwards at an alarming rate and this dimwit, who I do feel knows anything relevant about football, is adamant Arteta is the long term future.
        He will spout. He will bully. He will try to use his “self-anointed” superior intelligence to appear knowledgable. He is not. If you disagree with him you are labelled a juvenile. He is a fool and totally irrelevant with the majority of his thoughts.

        1. jon fox says:

          The oldest juvenile on JA. How embarrassing to be so juvenile in your comments at your own advanced age!

        2. beast mode says:

          Phil. You are on fire and spot on. I have stopped reading his comment long ago since no one can have a logical conversation with him.

        3. Highbury Hero says:

          Phil I like you more every day.

      4. jon fox says:

        Danny son, you have not the intellect to intelligently challenge me nor any other intelligent person.

        That chip on your shoulder is so very obvious and you need to learn that young people such as you, do not have the life experience of older people and so their judgement is not as sound. You, ,like most young people, have grown in an age of instant gratification and were spoiled by the first decade of Wengers glory years into expecting that to last for ever.

        Older people know that life never works that way, not in football nor much else either. Patience is what MOST young people (and especially you) need to learn and need to start learning it urgently. At your tender age you will only learn patience fully by the many years involved in becoming older and wiser. Intellect though is inate or absent.

        Decide for yourself if you TRULY think you possess it. I think you do not, as your regular unfully explained posts show only too well.

        1. Dan kit says:

          What’s with this age thing you keep harping on about ?
          Because your 70 it means that you have more life experience than a person half your age ?
          You talk about intellect like your the only one on this site that possesses it .
          You don’t know these fans personally so how the fck do you know there life stories.
          One thing people of your age and all ages should have our manners ,it seems you missed that life lesson Jonny boy .

          1. Dan kit says:

            Their * just in case the spelling police point that out

          2. jon fox says:

            Duh! Obviously I HAVE had more life experience than a person half my age. That is not an achievement, simply a fact!

            YOU TOO DANNY BOY WILL HAVE MORE LIFE EXPERIENCE HAN SOMEONE HALF YOUR AGE AND SO WILL ALL PEOPLE DOWN TO EARLY CHILDHOOD.

            TO DENY THAT OBVIOUS FACT IS TO FLY IN THE FACE OF ALL EVIDENCE THROUGHOUT OUR WIDE WORLD

        2. Phil says:

          As I said PAL- your a bumbling old fool and disregards anyone who thinks differently to how you do. Ha Ha what a mug

          1. jon fox says:

            Phil, your usual oafish standard.! Water off a ducks back to me old son! And I note you still choose not to explain if you are actually CAPABLE of posting without using the bullying “PAL”. To me or anyone you ever take issue with!

        3. Danny says:

          My posts are to the point as to why Arteta is not up to the job I don’t need to write big words and long winded articles to make it any clearer that does not make you any more intelligent at end of day you do not like the truth and then resort to bully boy tactics sunny but I’m not shaking in my boots will stand my corner all day long!!

          1. jon fox says:

            Danny IF you wish to get serious minded fans to take your comments seriously, then you DO need a proper explantion.

            We have to assume, in the absence of any, that you are incapable of providing one. Otherwise why not do so?

            Of course if you don’t wish to be taken seriously then by all means carry on as you are, but with the same result!

        4. ken1945 says:

          As someone who still supports MA, I will give some examples of why I think we should be questioning the way he is managing the club:
          1. Signings – Willian on a three year contract – Aubameyang on a three year contract reported to be £300,000 a week plus – Kolasinac allowed to leave with no proven back up for Tierney – Ozil allowed to leave with, apparently at the time, no player he trusted to take over the role.
          2. Tactics – setting out to contain opponents rather than trying to win games – seeing the team let in so many early goals and it never seemed to be addressed – playing out of form and/or “favourite” players, while not giving others the chance to play.
          Not having a settled side, with an obvious style of play… except defending and playing out from the back, no matter what.
          3. Ability to work with our younger players – until MA was forced, through injuries and suspensions, ESR was completely ignored. This despite our failure to create any kind of chances and seeing Aubameyang’s form drop drastically because of it – the inexplicable non usage of Martinelli, the Leicester game substitution of Aubemeyang rather than giving him some valuable playing time as an example – the same example with regards to Balogun, who has been completely ignored during Aubemeyang’s barren spell and seems to be on the verge of leaving for nothing.
          4. Managing the players – Partey being brought back too early, resulting in further time out – Tierney the same issue.
          5. Discipline or lack of such – we top the list for red cards, no need to say more.
          6. Home record – has everyone forgotten the Villa, Wolves etc humiliations?
          We used to be such a hard team to beat at the Emirates and this was “achieved” with the best defence for decades? LOL
          7. The current squad – probably the most expensive one ever seen at our club – over £300,000,000 spent on players – the best set of academy players seen in ages – a new backroom staff, chosen by him to integrate the two factions in to one functional unit… yet we are sitting in the bottom half of the table, out of both domestic cups and, probably, out of Europe next season… the first time in over two decades!!! And that was achieved with the “dross” players that AW and UE supposedly left him.

          Now, I am not comparing him with ANY previous manager, because that is totally irrelevant to what the article was asking.
          MA has certainly addressed many of the issues that he encountered when he arrived and I have nothing but praise for that side of things – we have got our Arsenal back in that respect.

          Should we give him more time?
          After the previous two games, there is a sense of purpose on the field, despite our usual early give away goal and it does seem that MA is here for the long haul – but let’s not keep covering up his mistakes by blaming every other Tom, Dick and Harry… he should be judged by the same principles as AW and UE and, to my way of thinking, that is not the case.
          Finally, let’s remember that UE finished fifth in the league, got us to a European final and wasn’t allowed the players he wanted.

          1. durand says:

            Ken
            Excellent post my friend, very detailed reasons you stated. I’m glad to see you mention the “standard” that Arteta seems to be exempt from while achieving far less.

            True about Emery delivering more with the “deadwood” people speak of, yet wasn’t given the opportunity to bring in his players.

            Also, Both Arteta and Emery play negative football, and rarely if ever play to the strengths of our team. For example, without a doubt our attack is the strongest part of our team: Auba, Laca, Saka, and the investments in Pepe and Willian, not to mention the emergence of ESR.

            Despite this, we don’t play attacking football, no freedom of movement for them, no flair, no quick passing or combination of pass and move. Instead its the same stagnant, static, side and back passing, possession without purpose other than possession for the sake of possession.

          2. ken1945 says:

            Durand here are two posts that give the reasons why MA is being questioned as per the requirements that the article was asking for… yet what response have we got?
            Zilch, Zero, Kaput!!!

            Very juvenile of fans who ask for examples and then ignore them – at least that seems to be the explanation when one disagrees with another’s opinions.
            The really silly thing about this discussion is that EVERY Gooner wants our manager to succeed, but it seems that if one even “dares” to criticise our current one (as opposed to the previous ones) we are seen to be somehow immature, unwordly in our outlook and uneducated!!!

          3. Highbury Hero says:

            Thank you Ken for such a good post. Detailed and discussion closer, as usual!

            “Very juvenile of fans who ask for examples and then ignore them – at least that seems to be the explanation when one disagrees with another’s opinions.
            The really silly thing about this discussion is that EVERY Gooner wants our manager to succeed, but it seems that if one even “dares” to criticise our current one (as opposed to the previous ones) we are seen to be somehow immature, unwordly in our outlook and uneducated!!!”

            I have mentioned the other day that from what I have seen some of the vocal ones defending Arteta are the ones who 4th under Wenger was not good enough and Emery made a mess of the job. Their defending of Arteta and put down anyone who say otherwise is nothing more than them trying to control the narration in my opinion.

  13. OnceGreat says:

    I expected them to battle for top 4. Not battle/pray for top 6.

    I didn’t and don’t expect them to either play the final or win the Europa League. It would be a nice surprise, though.

    1. Jimmy James says:

      I never expected us to challenge for Top 4. I thought we had a small chance of top 6, but it was more likely we would finish between 7th and 10th. Comparisons with Wengers last season are flawed as the squad that started this season is much different and in my view is much weaker. Only a few players remain from Wengers last year. It will be tough next season too. Fans nearly always expect their own team to improve and struggle to imagine opponents improving. Most of our top 6 rivals have managers that some of our fans claim they would love to see at Arsenal. So if those managers are as good as some fans believe, they should improve their teams too. It is clear to me that top 4 and even top 6 next season will be very difficult to achieve whoever our manager is. Hopefully it will be Arteta. Frequent managerial change isn’t good for teams without vast financial resources.

  14. AaronD says:

    I am an Arteta fan with four concerns:
    1. He seems to be too stubborn over his belief in player quality v what stats actually show. I believe he needs to surround himself with coaches who challenge his selection decisions. Example: I recognize that Willian had a very good game, but how many very poor games before that?
    2. He has to change culture of first 5 minutes of each half. How can our team be asleep?
    3. He needs more focus on accountability. I don’t think every red card merits club-imposed player suspension, but Pepe’s certainly did. As did at least one of Xhaka’s and Luiz’s.
    4. I don’t like how passive we are when we lose the ball. Too many peeps doing mindless jogging about after losing the ball

  15. RSH says:

    Main reason Arteta is so upsetting this season is really just the quality of football. I think it’s pretty poor honestly and not even close to the standards of the football club. Our attack is carried by Saka it seems and everyone else can maybe phone in a decent performance every now and then. I dont think whatever Arteta’s tactics are really works, and he seems to take too long to adjust. 10th isn’t good enough. Many teams have their own mountains of problems. It’s not just Arsenal. The players he has he should be doing much better. I’d be more on Arteta’s side if I saw real potential in his coaching but i just dont. I hope I am proven wrong. Really do.

  16. Reggie says:

    What i didn’t expect is to be worse off in the league, out of the FA Cup, playing slow deliberate football, losing 11 games in the league, below half way in the table and having trouble with the forwards we have scoring goals. I did expect to be in the top 6 and playing far better football.

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