Whilst Mikel persists with picking the same underperforming players, we will continue to get the same outcome – poor performances. One of Albert Einstein’s famous quotes “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result” could not be more apt for our current situation.
Our best displays this season have been in the Europa League, yet how many of those players have been rewarded? Yes, I accept that the standard of the opposition is poor but the reality is, many of the senior players form has been so disappointing that some of the youngsters literally couldn’t perform any less impressively if they were given a chance in the Premier League.
Prior to the recent North London derby, I was amazed to see so many fans saying that they felt optimistic. My heart was feeling optimistic but my head certainly did not mirror it. I kept reading that in derbies, form goes out of the window but that is an overused cliche and in truth, based on our league form, us against that lot from down the road is currently the equivalent of Chelsea playing Fulham. That may sound harsh but sadly, it’s true.
Since that game, some supporters have been hanging on to the post match words of Jose Mourinho, who said that under Arteta’s guidance and with the players we have, we would soon be back to being ‘Arsenal’, after our performance against them. He also said that we are a good team with a good coach.
From experience, when the manager of your most hated rivals starts being complimentary about you, it usually means that they don’t view you as a good side or consider you to offer any form of threat to their own team. Bringing back memories of how Mourinho’s attitude changed towards Arsene Wenger in the latter years of his reign.
Mikel’s post match comments after the Spurs defeat bothered me too, when he said that “we played the way I believe we had to”. No Mikel, we played the way Jose and Spurs wanted us to and we naively fell straight into their counter attacking trap.
After going a goal up, Spurs allowed us to have as much possession as we liked and their second goal was predictable. To me, it looked like they knew that by letting us have the ball, that they would eventually catch us on the break. Which proved to be the case.
I’ve seen many supporters saying that they think we’ve played well in our last two league outings, I don’t agree. Although we had a lot of possession against Spurs, we did nothing with it and didn’t look likely to either. Aside from Lacazette’s header, what else did Lloris have to do? In my opinion, Mourinho was being facetious and patronising after the game. Bizarrely, many of our fans fell for it.
Our performance against Burnley was very average too. As we so often do, we looked to have more purpose after the half time break and perhaps would have won the game had Xhaka not been foolishly sent off. However, the first half was quite a poor spectacle and let’s be honest, you would expect us to look marginally better than we have of late when playing a team who before kick off, had picked up just six points and had only scored five league goals.
The red card for Xhaka and Bellerin’s yellow could turn out to be a blessing in disguise as Mikel will be forced into making the changes that he should be making anyway. It’s near impossible to defend a manager who doesn’t appear to be picking players based on form. If you asked every Arsenal supporter to pick their starting eleven, very few would include Bellerin, Xhaka and Willian. Surely, we can’t all be wrong.
When a professional footballer, namely Bellerin, makes five foul throws in the same season, you know there’s a problem but of course it’s his overall form that’s a problem. Xhaka did improve under Mikel last season but he’s reverted to type this campaign. He looks slow and clumsy again. Willian hasn’t been our worst player in our last two games but Fulham aside, he’s been disappointing and I’m not seeing what Holding is doing to warrant a regular place in the side either.
When I’m asked whether I want Arteta out, I’m torn. If I was basing my decision on this season alone, he’d be out the door without any hesitation. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. Contrary to what some supporters believe, we aren’t completely dominating games or losing them because of bad luck and we don’t look like giving a team a thumping any time soon either. I wanted Arteta to replace Emery but I won’t allow my judgement to be clouded by a desire to be proved right.
However, Mikel showed at the end of last season that he’s capable of getting a tune out of our players. To do so again, he must be bold. If he’s to be sacked, he should go contently in the knowledge that he at least tried everything to change our fortunes. At the moment nobody, including Mikel, can say that he’s done that. If he retains his faith in certain players, it’s going to be his downfall.
I’m of the opinion that Maitland-Niles should be given an opportunity in midfield, more so with Partey and Xhaka struggling for form and fitness respectively. Now that the latter is suspended, perhaps Ainsley will get more of a look in but I won’t hold my breath. Some of us have thought he’s deserved a chance for a while and with us being so poor in the middle of the park this season, can he really do any worse? Mikel may not like Ainsley’s casual and calm demeanour but at least his presence would give us some much needed pace, power and athleticism.
With the way that Aubameyang is playing, I’d also like to see more opportunities given to Balogun. He’s young, raw and inexperienced but he looks physically strong and extremely promising. His all round game looks better than that of Nketiah and again, could he do any worse than those who are currently doing so little? If he’s not given a fair opportunity then we will lose him.
I’ll back and support any manager who I can see is making progress, regardless of results. At the moment, the reality is that I’m simply not seeing anything to suggest that Mikel‘s capable of turning things around. In truth, he‘s fast becoming indefensible and it’s only his exploits at the end of last season that are giving me any hope that he remains the right man for the job. A hope that is fading fast.
I don’t think many of us want The Arsenal to become a club who frequently changes their manager like some others do but ultimately, we all know football is a results business and that it’s getting more difficult by the week to wholeheartedly back a manager who isn’t getting positive results. Particularly when I can see other managers getting more out of lesser players elsewhere.
It appears that something has happened behind the scenes which has affected the players but as supporters we are forming this opinion based on nothing but hearsay and conjecture. However, results are factual and they’ve been extremely poor. It’s difficult to see where our next league win will come from, especially when looking at our upcoming fixtures.
It’s easy to say we need to spend money in the transfer market and we all know we need better players but as much as people can criticise the owner for not making more cash available, if you were in his shoes and could see the manager isn’t getting the best out of the players he already has, would it inspire you with the confidence to spend millions on new ones that he may or may not get the best out of? It’s got to be a two way street and Mikel has to start proving that he actually deserves to be backed financially.
If we lose to Southampton in our next game then it would be understandable if the club believed that it’s time to see if anyone else can get more out of the squad of players that we currently have….
Passionate Gooner born in 1984. I often get called negative but personally, I prefer the term honest and honesty is something that I pride myself on. I joined the Gunners Town team after penning several ‘Dear Arsene Wenger’ letters on my Facebook profile, several years ago, and sharing them in Arsenal supporter groups. These were met with praise and the encouragement to start writing my own blog, from fellow Arsenal supporters, who felt my words summed up their own feelings perfectly. So here I am…..