Tag Archives: Mikel Arteta

Keep calm and trust the process

The fact the third best team in the Premier Lesgue this season turned up to our gaff, put XI behind the ball, defended their 18 yard box and played for a draw shows how far we have come under Mikel Arteta

It was not too long ago that the likes of Wolves, Brighton and Swansea would turn up to Islington and think “we can get a win here”. Those days are over. And with that comes another problem.

“Low block” is one of them newish buzzwords in football to describe a team that sets up 451 and defends deep. The better you are, the less interested teams are in attacking you.

As the second half of the season roles on, less teams will become interested in attacking us, and more will defend deep. And it is up to Mikel Arteta and his players to work out how to unlock a stubborn lock.

The Newcastle result was by no means a disaster. Some (as they always do) have gone OTT with their negative analysis.

I have seen some pundits say “the top teams work out how to win these games”; insinuating that Arsenal are not a top team.

This season, Man City have drawn with Newcastle, Aston Villa and Everton, lost to Brentford.

Last season, City got 93 points, they drew 0-0 at home to Southampton. They also drew away to them. They lost 2-0 at home to Crystal Palace., and drew 0-0 at Selhurst Park. They also drew 2-2 away to West Ham. You can not expect a team to win every game.

Newcastle are the 3rd best team in the league this season. They are a strong, well built, highly organised outfit. They set up to firstly not lose games, and the try to take their chances to win. You can see why they have lost just once this season. And the drew against us was their 8th in 18 games this season.

They have taken points against Manchester City, Man U, Spurs and Chelsea. Liverpool are the only team to have taken 3 points against them – and they needed a 98th minute winner.

I saw them described as “Burnley Arabia” which made me chuckle. Maybe a little too much. They are better than that. But Howe certainly has them playing in an efficient manner, doing what they need to do to compete. Probably closer to Atletico Madrid than Burnley.

So 0-0 at home is not a disaster. But it also does not mean that we couldn’t (or can’t) improve.

The game highlighted our lack of attacking options.

With Gabriel Jesus and Emile Smith Rowe out injured, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka played the full 90.

In games like this, it is often a substitution that changes things. A pair of fresh, fast legs in the last 20 minutes that finds that gap. It is clear why we are chasing Mykhailo Mudryk.

You also have to ask whether Arteta could have been braver with his substitutions.

He made just one change – Ben White for Takehiro Tomiyasu. Fabio Vieira was an unused sub on the bench.

Could Arteta have thrown the Portuguese on for Granit Xhaka with 20 to go? See if he can create something?

I do think Arteta missed a trick. And he showed last season that he does not always trust those on the bench to come on and make a difference. I would say game changing subs when we need a goal is something he can improve on.

Of course, football is easy in hindsight and had we been given that penalty, or Eddie scored when one on one, we’d be celebrating a hard fought win – “the type of games champions win”.

It ended up 0-0. There will be some over analysis. But we are still top of the league. Won 14 out of 17. And that Newcastle game was the only one we didn’t score in.

Our 100% home record is now over, but we move on.

Oxford United in the FA Cup next (I expect a hugely changed team) before Spurs in a week.

Man City are still favourites and the result on Tuesday is just a little reminder of how tough this league is.

Keep calm. Trust the process.




Losing is never a positive result – although there might be positives

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.


Arsenal playing with the handbrake on, but Mikel Arteta is the man to get us into top gear

November has been a peculiar month for Arsenal. It started with what felt like a landmark victory at Old Trafford, the Gunners’ first league win there in 14 years and it has rather stalled since.

Rather than showing definitive progress in the games that followed, Mikel Arteta’s men have struggled to shake off the inconsistency that has been a hallmark of their 2020/21 season so far, demonstrated by a record of four wins, four defeats and a draw from their first nine Premier League matches.

It would be all too easy to take a pessimistic view of the Gunners’ last game. A 0-0 draw to a newly promoted team never looks like a satisfactory score line, particularly when Leeds amassed 25 shots on goal.

However, when you factor in Arsenal’s away record against last season’s promoted clubs (Sheffield United, L, 0-1. Norwich City D, 2-2. Aston Villa, L, 0-1) and that they played the majority of the second half with ten men following Nicolas Pépé’s red card, Arteta deserves credit for being able to secure a point.

The next three matches are of pivotal importance to Arsenal, presenting a great opportunity for Arteta to gain some much-needed momentum.

Qualification as winners of Group B in the Europa League could be secured with a win at Molde on Thursday. A handsome win against Wolves on Sunday could propel Arsenal to as high as sixth before the all-important North London derby on 5 December.

Tottenham have two successive London derbies, playing Chelsea before the visit of Arsenal. Although Spurs currently sit top of the table, if they were to lose their next two league games and Arsenal were to win both of theirs, the gap between the two teams would close to just one point.

Needless to say, the next ten days could be an extremely important period, not just in the context of Arsenal’s season but in Arteta’s reign as Arsenal manager.

There is good reason to believe the Spaniard can turn things around once again. Not only did he resurrect a team that was buried in the rubble to the heights of FA Cup winners, but he has ensured that his Arsenal team will not be easy to beat.

At this stage last year, Unai Emery had overseen his last Premier League game, a 2-2 draw at home to then-19th placed Southampton, who had just been thrashed 9-0 by Leicester. Arsenal were closer to the relegation zone than the top four, already a staggering 19 points behind eventual champions Liverpool.

Freddie Ljungberg was then appointed as caretaker manager, a role which he fulfilled for almost a month, before Arteta took over.

He has since laid the foundations for future success by building a solid base. Bernd Leno continues to prove himself as one of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers, whilst Gabriel has added some much-needed steel in defence.

A pressing priority for Arteta is to get Arsenal scoring again. Although his team have looked stout and secure for the most part, they have failed to blow teams away in attack, not scoring more than twice in the Premier League since the opening day of the season.

Football fans are a fickle bunch and those currently calling for Arteta’s head will be singing his name from the rooftops in just under two weeks if he can lead Arsenal to three successive victories.

Despite recent results suggesting otherwise, there should be little doubt amongst the Arsenal faithful that Arteta is the man to lead the club forward.

Zac Campbell