One thing I hate is when I see fans say “at least it was only 1-0” as if losing by a single goal was a positive.
This mentality shows just how far we have fallen behind the rest.
Gone are the days we would go to Anfield, Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford or Maine Road expecting a win. Now we are satisfied with “not being thrashed”.
I understand that the hammerings we took on the road in those later years have left some fans scared. I was at many of those games. It was horrendous.
However if we are to return to the big time, we need to act like a big club. Get the mentality right.
Being happy that you did not get smashed on the road is a small club mentality. Leave that to the likes of West Ham, Burnley and Newcastle. We are The Arsenal. We should not be happy losing 1-0.
I felt Mikel Arteta got his line-up and game plan spot on.
A few questioned why he changed the centre backs from David Luiz and Gabriel to Rob Holding and Pablo Mari; and why Nicholas Pepe came in for Emile Smite Rowe.
The reasoning was a change in game plan.
When we are looking to dominate a game, to play in the opponents half, we need athletic centre backs who can play in a high line – Luiz and Gabriel.
Against Manchester City, Arteta’s game plan was to defend deep and hit them quick on the break.
It is a tactic which has since us beat Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Man U under Arteta.
Holding and Mari are better options when defending deep than Luiz and Gabriel.
Likewise in the middle, if we were going for compact and deep, Mohamed Elneny was a better choice than Dani Ceballos. Extra defensive steel in the middle.
And if we are playing on the break, we want the pace of Pepe rather than the guile of Smith Rowe.
Arteta also got the substitutes spot on.
As we began to dominate the play half way through the second half, he bought on the players who operate better in tight spaces – Smith Rowe & Lacazette; sacrificing Pepe who needs space to run in to.
What Arteta could not legislate for was City scoring in the opening 90 seconds; and the manner of the goal.
A few pundits went over the top, going as far as saying “Sterling outjumped 2 centre backs”. He did not. He outjumped no one.
He found space between Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding.
Bellerin dropped back to follow the run of Bernardo Silva, but clearly did not communicate to Holding that Sterling was behind him and now unmarked.
The ball was floated over, Holding was unaware of the man behind him and that Bellerin was not on him, and Sterling rose unchallenged to score.
It is the run of Bernardo Silva that was clever – had he not made that move outside of Bellerin, Hector would have been tight to Sterling; challenging him in the air.
It is becoming clear what Arteta’s game plan is in these bigger games – defend deep and hit them on the break.
This can lead us to look untidy at the back whilst we play quick, risky passes to go from front to back as fast as possible to avoid City’s high press.
It worked in the FA Cup semi final and it nearly worked Sunday when Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney both finding space down the left hand side. The final ball was lacking however.
Manchester City will now run away with the league title.
18 wins in a row in all competitions, and just 6 goals conceded in that time. It is a truly incredible run.
We are moving forward under Arteta, but the mentality of fans needs to move forward with him.
Losing 1-0 should not be a positive. We need to begin going into these games expecting to win.
Up next we are back to the Europa League with a home game in Athens.