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Arteta cannot be blamed for Martinelli being unavailable but Runnarson is the Worst Keeper ever seen at Arsenal

martinelli-training

Massive Boost

When you are unable to attend matches or meet up with likeminded individuals before or after games and your team is frequently being a disappointment on the pitch, it can be easy to forget the enjoyment that being a football fan can actually bring. Finally, at the eighth attempt, we were given a satisfying reminder of what it feels like to see The Arsenal win in the league again. Chelsea supporters on the other hand, got a taste of what it has been like to watch us play for the best part of this season, with their team’s abysmal performance.

Throughout our bad run of form and when many fans were naively blaming Kroenke for our poor results, I always maintained the belief that we had the players to be getting better results and to be far higher up the table than we currently are. However, there are some supporters who have the mindset that when we lose it is because the players are not good enough and when we win it is all down to Arteta being a master tactician. In my opinion, poor management, and a lack of courage when it comes to team selections on Mikel’s behalf, have been costly factors. That and the much discussed, internal club politics.

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Not down to Kroenkes

One thing Mikel cannot be blamed for though, is the absence of Martinelli through injury. He could be the player who ultimately, saves Mikel’s job. In the games since his return, Martinelli has provided the attacking spark that we have been severely missing nearly all season. There were glimpses of that towards the end of the first half in our Carabao Cup game against Man City too. Unfortunately, it was hugely overshadowed by the horror show involving Runarsson at the other end of the pitch.

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The worst?

Losing to Man City is no disgrace in itself but the manner of our defeat and the number of basic mistakes made during the loss were. My new-born daughter has been subjected to being in the same room as my wife and I, whilst we have been watching Arsenal games since her birth three weeks ago and I dread to think what her first words will eventually be. I just hope that they will not mirror those that were coming from my mouth in relation to a certain Icelandic goalkeeper.

On his debut, Runarsson had very little to do aside from catching a few routine crosses but has looked like an accident waiting to happen ever since. To the point where I feel that any shot on target is likely to result in a goal. It may sound harsh, but I have genuinely seen outfield players perform better than him between the posts, than he did against Dundalk and Man City, when going in goal following the goalkeeper being sent off and their team having used all their substitutions.

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Weak wrists

If we have any youth goalkeepers who have reached 18 or 19 and they are not better than him, then they probably should not be at the club either as far as I’m concerned. I cannot see one positive attribute that he possesses. He appeared very uncomfortable with the ball at his feet when he eventually faced quality opposition, has no aerial presence, weak wrists, and poor positional sense. I obviously hope he proves me wrong but based on what I have seen of him so far, he is potentially the worst Arsenal goalkeeper I have seen in all my years following the club. Which is quite an accolade.

Many supporters could see that Runarsson wasn’t good enough weeks ago, I even joked on social media that he looked good until the ball went anywhere near him and that he should only be involved in our games as a ball boy, so why did Arteta pick him to face a team like Manchester City? I am not sure what concerns me more, him being named in the starting eleven for cup games and on the bench for our league fixtures or that he was reportedly recommended by the club’s goalkeeping coach, Inaki Cana.

As supporters, we are often patronisingly informed by those who blindly follow any Arsenal manager, that those in professional football employment obviously know more than us but that certainly is not always the case. It is not uncommon for fans to recognise the decline of a player or the readiness of a promising youngster before it is apparently acknowledged by club employees. All you need to do in order to find clear evidence of the catalogue of errors made by past and present members of Arsenal staff, is watch our games from recent seasons and many of them from so far this campaign.

Yes, our player recruitment policy has been poor but so has the management of the team. For some reason, many of our supporters try to defend the latter but I am not sure why, it certainly hasn’t been Kroenke, Wenger, Emery, or the scouting department who have been picking the team, choosing the tactics, making substitutions, needlessly selecting players who we all know, should never be anywhere near an Arsenal starting eleven and failing to get the best out of the players that we have. It has been Arteta and his coaching staff.

For weeks, if not months, I have wanted Mikel to give more youngsters an opportunity in our league games. Although the standard of the opposition has been poor, most of our best performances so far this season have come in the Europa League, when we have had more young players in the team. They play with a smile on their faces and their exuberance is infectious. This rubs off on some of the more senior players and they do not necessarily need to have had a great game themselves in order to influence those around them.

A win against Chelsea is always a nice feeling and gave us the perfect Christmas present but forgive me for being reluctant to herald it as the dawn of a new era. We have been here before after our victory at Old Trafford, only to follow that win up with a truly dreadful run of league results. I cannot confidently say that Arteta has turned the corner in terms of his predictable, unimaginative team selections either. Had Aubameyang been fully fit and Willian available too, I suspect that both may have started the game.

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Would Arteta drop him?

As I have said in some of my previous articles, sometimes managers must make changes in personnel through no choice of their own due to injuries or suspensions. Smith Rowe may or may not prove to be good enough, but he is the type of player, positionally and stylistically, that we have been crying out for and should have been given an opportunity to stake his claim earlier. Aubameyang has barely smiled all season because of his and the team’s dire performances. That is filtered through the team and had a detrimental effect on all the players. When he is happy, the whole side is when he is not, none of the players are. In truth, I don’t yet believe that Arteta is brave enough to drop him unless the decision is taken out of his hands.

For readers who may be wondering why I am still being critical of the manager and some of the players after a victory, it is simple. One game does not change the past or my opinion. I have never called for Arteta’s head, but I have been calling for him to be bolder and at least try something new to arrest our slump. In the coming weeks we will discover if our Boxing Day win came because of default or design in terms of Mikel’s team selection.

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Not calling for his head

Xhaka and Bellerin have both received a lot of criticism from supporters, but the same fans are reluctant to praise them when they do perform on the pitch. No, one game does not erase their previous performances but if they do deliver what is expected of them, I believe it should be acknowledged. Some fans are already saying that we have turned a corner, but it is far too early to say that. That judgment can only be formed over the next few weeks when we will see whether Mikel and the team continue to show improvement.

I want Arteta to do well, like I do all Arsenal employees. I am not expecting us to become a top side overnight, but I do expect to see us taking more forward steps than backwards ones. Sadly, that has not been the case of late….

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14 Responses to Arteta cannot be blamed for Martinelli being unavailable but Runnarson is the Worst Keeper ever seen at Arsenal

  1. Norms December 29, 2020 at 11:19 am #

    I think that you are being far too harsh on Runnarson. I have seen him playing for us in the Europa League and I can’t remember him doing anything wrong.

    Yes. he made schoolboy errors against Man City but I think that nerves played no small part.

    You are probably too young to remember the debut of one of our greatest goalies….Jack Kelsey who played for us in the 50s. His first match was against Charlton, at home, and from memory we lost 5 nil. He was so nervous that early in the game when he collected the ball and wentpo kick it out he only succeeded in kicking it straight up in the air and as it came down a Charlton forward beat him to it and headed it into the open goal!! I cannot think of a more embarrassing incident but he overcame it and went on to be ranked amongst our greatest ever goalies.

    You are too hasty in damning Runnarson…… he’s no Martinez…yet, but give him a chance to prove his worth.

    • Nick Birch December 30, 2020 at 8:57 am #

      Definitely don’t remember Kelsey, wasn’t born until 1984. I know I’m a harsher critic than most but I just think Runarsson has let in some very poor goals against Dundalk and Man City and looked extremely unconvincing. If he comes good, I’ll be the first to mention what a turnaround he’s made.

      • Norman Englender December 30, 2020 at 9:46 am #

        Nick…….you are entitled to your opinion but not to publish it as you did, and with that utterly damning headline. Consider what affect your comment has on Runnarson before leaping into print.

        Free speech requires a modicum of responsibility……I don’t believe that you showed any.

        Why not criticise Saka or ESR or AMN, equally young and impressionable, for their misplaced passes, or Xhaka for his constant fouling? Maybe you don’t because they are not such easy targets.

        If readers are to respect your writing you need to find a balance …..criticise if you wish, if that has a constructive purpose in your writing….but not just for the sake of it. And please don’t damn a player as you did, and then think that a limpid apology will rectify the situation.

        It doesn’t……and your attempt at putting matters right only shows the weakness and paucity of your writing.

        • Nick Birch December 30, 2020 at 10:47 am #

          Firstly, the headlines are created by the site editor, not the author of the articles.

          Regardless, when it’s my name being put to the articles, within reason of course, I’m fully entitled to publish my opinions in the way that I see fit when it comes to footballing matters.

          My blogging pseudonym has the word ‘Honest’ in it for a reason and that’s because I don’t sugar coat my opinions, I say what I think and what many others often think but are too frightened to say publicly for fear of getting a patronising backlash such as your response.

          Bloggers put our opinions in the public domain and we are here to be shot down but I personally enjoy it when an Arsenal player proves me wrong in a positive way. Believe me, I would love for Runarsson to do that. If he does, I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and acknowledge him for it.

          However, from what I’ve seen of him so far, I stand by my opinion to date. I’m not basing my opinion on solely the Man City game, I consider him to have been at fault against Rapid Wien, Dundalk and of course, Man City. Nerves can’t be attributed to the first two games I’ve mentioned. He’s almost 26 too, yes, young for a goalkeeper but some people are talking about him like he’s an inexperienced kid, which he certainly isn’t.

          There’s a simple reason why I don’t often criticise the likes of Saka, Smith Rowe or Maitland-Niles, that’s because I can see what positive attributes they are able to offer and the potential they have. So far I haven’t seen that where Runarsson is concerned. I have regularly criticised Xhaka in the past too, believe I mentioned him in the article before this as it happens.

          I give praise and criticism to any player where I deem it to be valid, as for as I’m concerned, there is no easy or difficult target and when you ask me to think what effect my comments have on Runarsson, were he ever to read them, I’d like to think he would show a bit of character and determination to make me eat my words. If they had the opposite effect then sadly, we would know that he doesn’t have what it takes to succeed at the highest level.

          You misunderstand me when you think I’m offering an apology too, I have nothing to apologise for. I was simply acknowledging that I’m self aware enough to realise that I’m harder to please in footballing terms than many other Arsenal fans but I have no shame in that, we are all different, have different expectations, different personalities and different character traits.

          Some people enjoy reading my articles and agree with them too, others don’t, that’s life. I do question why the easily offended read others opinions though.

  2. Jimmy B December 29, 2020 at 11:36 am #

    Learn to write.

    • Nick Birch January 5, 2021 at 11:47 am #

      Learn to read.

  3. Jerry December 29, 2020 at 1:46 pm #

    Can’t believe runnarson is our 2nd choice goalkeeper.

  4. David Orrells December 29, 2020 at 2:20 pm #

    Worst keeper ever? Are you even serious?? Firstly he’s a young talent, secondly he’s played only a small number of games with us. The problem is our questionable defence. And the constant fans like yourself who probably subscribe to aftv with their usual over the top attacks on the players but as soon as they play well it’s all, oh they are the best.

    • Nick Birch December 30, 2020 at 8:54 am #

      Read what I actually wrote, “I obviously hope he proves me wrong but based on what I have seen of him so far, he is potentially the worst Arsenal goalkeeper I have seen in all my years following the club”. Do people just read the headline and throw their toys out of their pram? But to answer your question, yes, I’m serious…against Dundalk and Man City he made Shaaban and Almunia look good. I don’t watch AFTV and I’m also the first one to admit when I get it wrong because I love to be proved wrong in the right way. Articles are my opinion only, based on what I’ve seen. If and when Runarsson changes my opinion, I’ll say so but I certainly don’t change my mind on a game to game basis, which is also mentioned in the article. You seem good at making assumptions, so I’ll make one of my own, you didn’t actually read it…

  5. Wiltshire Gunner December 29, 2020 at 2:47 pm #

    When Jack Kelsey was forced to retire through sever severe injury in 1961, Arsenal suddenly found they were without any tried and tested reserve keepers and we spent virtually the entire season alternating between Ian McKechnie and John McLelland, both of whom tried hard but they just weren’t up to the job and we leaked goals all over the place, with some very high scoring games. The rot wasn’t stopped until we signed Jim Furnell (from Wolves, I think) and our results became more normal. Far too soon to pass judgement on Runarsson, but let’s at least give him a fair chance

  6. alesscon December 29, 2020 at 5:20 pm #

    Not even worth the time to read.

    • Nick Birch January 5, 2021 at 12:30 pm #

      Yet you took the time to make a pointless comment.

  7. allezkev December 29, 2020 at 11:09 pm #

    The worst goalkeeper? I’m not sure about that, you obviously never saw Geoff Barnett or George Wood and who could ever forget ‘Fingers’ Furnell, in more recent times we’ve had quite a few interesting incumbents between the posts, it was a position that post Seaman I never thought that Arsene really seriously went for the best.

    • Nick Birch December 30, 2020 at 8:59 am #

      As said in the article, based on what I’ve seen so far, he looks potentially the worst. Some key words there but in recent games he’s made Almunia and Shaaban look good. Hope he comes good though obviously.

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