Tag Archives: Mikel Arteta

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

Mikel Arteta more Rafa Benitez than Pep Guardiola

Each manager is his own person, has his own style, his own way of doing things. No two managers are the same, although many are similar in terms of philosophy.

Take Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola.

Both have a similar outlook on the game. Passing football heavily influenced by Johan Cruyff’s Ajax and Barcelona teams.

In Mikel Arteta, we assumed we were getting a man cut from a similar cloth.

Arteta had come through the Barcelona youth system, before a career that saw him play in 4 different countries.

He would play for, and captain, Arsenal under Wenger before joining Guardiola’s coaching set-up at Manchester City.

It is therefore a surprise to many that Arteta’s Arsenal more resemble a George Graham side rather than a Wenger.

Tough to break down. Defence first. Few chances created.

As well as Graham, Arteta’s playing style is very similar to one of his and Guardiola’s countrymen – Rafa Benitez  .

Throughout Benitez’s career, his sides have sacrificed attacking flair for solidity.

Benitez’s squads are usually renowned for their defensive nature and low number of goals scored against them.

With just 7 goals conceded this season, Arsenal have the best defensive record in the league. A huge shift from conceding 150 league goals in the previous 3 seasons.

Benitez  would set his team up to exploit opposition weaknesses, something which Arteta also does and has seen his side beat Liverpool 3 times, Manchester United twice and both Chelsea and Manchester City once.

Benitez would also play key players in unorthodox positions to suit a formation. Think Steven Gerrard playing as a winger.

Under Arteta Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been used predominantly as a winger, whilst Kieran Tierney has played as centre back. Winger Bukayo Saka has played more in a full back or wing back position than in a forward role.

At this point, some fans might be feeling a little down, a little cheated. That we have potentially recruited a Rafa Benitez rather than a Pep Guardiola.

But that is unfair on Benitez.

In a 12 year period managing Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Napoli, Benitez won 12 trophies including the Champions League, 2 La Liga league titles, 2 UEFA Cup’s, 2 domestic cups and 5 super cups.

If in a dozen years time, Arteta has that sort of trophy haul whilst at Arsenal, his name will rightly be mentioned alongside the likes of Herbert Chapman, George Graham and Arsene Wenger.

The key difference between Benitez and Guardiola is the elder Spaniard very rarely found himself in charge of the richest side in the league (bar a spell as Real Madrid manager).

Benitez had to adapt to make Valencia competitive in Spain, winning 2 La Liga titles.

Liverpool made 2 Champions League finals in 3 years under Benitez, winning one. It was during a period when Liverpool had fallen away from being a European powerhouse.

Likewise for in Italy he never managed the richest sides in the league (Juventus, AC Milan) but still won 3 trophies in 2 years.

In just 11 months, including a break for Covid19, Arteta has already led his side to 2 trophies.

It might not be the free flowing Guardiola / Wenger football we hoped for, but there are many ways to skin a cat. Many different ways to win a trophy.

I am still confident that as our improved defensive stability continues, we will begin to improve at the other end of the pitch.

And if playing Benitez style defensive football does become Arteta’s trademark, then so be it if he continues to lead his team to trophies.

No one complained about George Graham’s Arsenal when we were winning titles!

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