What a disappointing performance that was against Manchester United.
To score twice and still come away from Old Trafford without a point has to be considered a failure considering the form they have been in recently.
We have no one to blame but ourselves for the performance.
1-nil up through Emile Smith Rowe we decided to sit back and invite pressure.
Man U’s weakness is in defence and midfield. You want to get at them and presides them into a mistake. We did it brilliantly prior to taking the lead.
Their strength is in attack and by sitting back we gave their defenders and midfielders time on the ball and played into their hands.
If we want to move from Top 4 challengers to top 4 certainties and then onto title challengers we need to begin putting games like last nights to bed when we are on top.
Manchester City or Liverpool would not have sat back. They would have continued to attack. Continued to pressure and looked for a second and then third goal.
Part of this improvement will come through Mikel Arteta’s tactics, part through players own self-confidence and part through the ability of the players on the pitch.
What was most disappointing – and it has been a theme of this season – is the poor individual performances of Thomas Partey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Partey has failed to ignite since moving from Spain.
He looks sluggish, lazy and not at 100%.
The Ghanaian does not seem to be the midfield powerhouse that he was. He does not get around the pitch, dominating the opponents midfield physically like he did in Spain.
The Premier League is faster and more physical than Spain. Therefore the attributes that made him a beast in La Liga are negated a bit in England.
He also gives the ball away far too much in midfield.
Again, this could be to do with the Premier League – you can not afford a poor touch in England as the opponents will be on you. Meanwhile in Spain he would have that bit more time on the ball. The extra space.
Partey has been a poor signing.
Also struggling is Aubameyang.
If he isn’t scoring he offers very little.
He isn’t a creative force, he doesn’t bring others into play. He doesn’t hold the ball up.
Arteta would be well advised to drop his miss-firing captain for Everton. It can be down under the guise that it is squad rotation ahead of a busy January. But the truth is he has just been poor.
Move Alexandre Lacazette up top and play a 3 behind him of Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.
Defeat against Everton will bring out more doubters over Arteta.
It will mean that most of our wins this season have come against lesser teams and will leave us with just one big result away from home this season against Leicester City.
Arteta needs to be brave, make the change up top and encourage the team to keep playing positive, aggressive football when we take the lead.
As for Partey, there is not much we can do with Granit Xhaka still out. That is a problem that can only solved next summer.
Don’t worry too much – it’s only poor form. Partey has been injured a lot and it is only to be expected that his form won’t be tip top until he’s fully match fit and has had a run in the team. Aubameyang has had both malaria and covid and we don’t know if he’s fully recovered from those; however, the main problem seems to be confidence – he is snatching at his chances and seems to be thinking too much about what he’s doing, whereas a player on form will do things instinctively.