…. and the door slides open: How these 3 Arsenal players might have saved Arteta’s future…

…… and the door slides open


In the 14 months that Mikel Arteta has been at Arsenal he has experienced every curve of the rollercoaster that most managers would enjoy and endure in a decade.

I sit here a few hours post game and I wonder if he knows that he has experienced at least two sliding doors moments in his brief managerial career. Perhaps the club didn’t see it this way, but the fans did.

I wonder because if he isn’t on social media like he says, and there are no fans in the ground, then does he know that twice the door has been about to shut and he’s muscle fought the doors open and jumped onboard.

I speak of Chelsea over Christmas and yesterday. On both occasions there have been many that have been about to lose it.

The first sliding doors moment was the worst run of poor results in nearly 100 years and the second after the fanbase was 7 minutes away from meltdown in February whilst 11th in the league. The small dose of sympathy that some would’ve given him turned into a very large stick to beat him with on the 63rd minute when he decided to rescue the biggest game of the season by introducing our worst player.

Don’t get me wrong, I like that he seems to be an escape artist. That’s a good trait. That opening thought is just observation. I personally think that Arteta has the ability to be one of the best and if allowed the time could actually do it at Arsenal. I back him. I’m largely impressed.

I do think however, that much like his team’s ability to give opponents free gifts, he is equally grabbing the same pistol and needlessly popping bullets into his own feet. 


I wonder why it took an injury for him to discover Smith-Rowe as a connector when the horseshoe had been horseshoeing for over a month?

I wonder why he insists on over coaching when it’s obvious that Arsenal now have 3 players playing with such a creative eye?

I wonder why we are pursuing the same repeated failing set plays?

I wonder why he thinks that directing every single choice from the sidelines, as if he has the remote control and his players are cars, is a good idea in the long term?

I wonder how he can think that choreographed goals are the only way as they make up 90% of our goals and yet we don’t score enough?

I wonder why he seems willing to potentially lose Martinelli by playing Willian?

I wonder why he hasn’t figured out that the growing tendency to play up, back, up, back, up, back is killing our opportunities to turn and slot our forwards in? Especially when we have players like Odegaard who have this gift as their main banner.

I wonder why he keeps killing games by making unnecessary subs, and not learning?

I wonder if he is aware of how the crowd will react to the robotic football?

I wonder these things and many others because I care. It’s a feeling similar to deciding whether you tell your boss how they are making you feel or just wait for them to get fired. If you care and think they have potential, you speak up.

Again, I think Mikel Arteta is the answer. I think his first sliding doors moment was more of what I said earlier. I think he pried the doors open himself and forced his way back on.

If I’m honest I think that what happened yesterday was the opposite. It was Saka, Tierney and Auba on the train. The train was leaving the station and they grabbed their coach as the train was leaving and the doors were closing and drug him onboard.

As I said at the very beginning of this adventure…… I hope Mikel Arteta is humble. Willing to see these kinds of viewpoints and willing to change. If he isn’t then Arsenal will continue to be swerving to avoid the car crashing. If he is then I think we make progress much quicker than most think.

So, gaffer….. Your next sliding doors moment is your decision on what you’ve learnt from this. I felt that the car was about to crash and for a while I’d lost a little faith and closed my eyes and got in the fetal position.


-Saka. Praise repeat. Running out of original thoughts. Is being saved by a 19 year old a sign of how good he is or a little embarrassing or both?

-The kick off worked! We kept possession rather than going for the line out.

-Auba’s two goals and his marginal offside were all to his strength. Slot passes and back post crosses. I just wonder what the rest of it was as aerial crosses were much of the rest of it and that is his weakness.

-Tierney has twice now bucked the passing patterns and just done it himself. WBA away in the snow and yesterday.


-To be fair to Ceballos, he was dictating play very well in the first half before his errors.


-I’ve had a yucky thought. I was watching ESR and Odegaard and was wondering if the passing patterns and constant string pulling is negatively affecting their choices. ESR a month ago was the solution to the risk averse football. He used to turn and connect. Over and over too. He barely turned his hips last night. Being honest, I’m worried. The greatest sin of any coach is to make a player feel like he can’t or shouldn’t use his main gifting. 


Share creative load

-Arteta talks about ‘team’ often. I know some of it is to deflect from hanging individuals out but I had a different concern last night. I got the feeling that the ‘team’ was going to try to win the game without the individuals. What does that mean? Simply that any and all individualism and freedom of expression was left on the bus. It was passing only. No chances taken with shots or dribbling. Certainly no risk in connecting in the final third in tight spaces for fear of transition.

-In answer to my own thought, I wonder if the players were so tightly wound with fear of neglecting their defensive responsibilities that they didn’t want to stray from their ‘man’ and so played within themselves?

How big a part did fear play? Some of our players seemed frozen by the enormity of the game. Better to not be mentioned at all, than risk being mentioned in a negative light.

-Arsenal have more one footed players than I can ever remember.


– That the players feel more revived than I/we do. I feel like I’ve just been resuscitated and forgotten that we actually won.


Sorry for the largely negative thoughts off the back of the biggest win of our season. Just following my eyes and trying to be honest. It would be nice if we could have an easy game in the next round as it’s been hard to breathe recently.

Molde please.

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5 Responses to …. and the door slides open: How these 3 Arsenal players might have saved Arteta’s future…

  1. Francis Redheart February 26, 2021 at 9:25 am #


    Nice post as usual. I also noticed how long balls over the top for Auba in the first half were.not tries often by our MFs.

    Leno did OK and had no chance for the 1st goal.

    Luiz and Gabriel were guilty of slow passing that lacked momentum. Gab has a lot to learn and was guilty of overplaying the ball at a crucial time in the match.

    The goals were all outstanding and I feel we should concentrate on that part of our game.

  2. earlset February 26, 2021 at 9:56 am #

    Thoughtful as ever Mike.Feeling of relief as the winner went in but is this just a reprieve unless we are very lucky with the draw in this competition.
    Agree with a most of the criticisms of Arteta,however I would contend that many of his substitutions are too late rather than being unnecessary.Also if I was an experienced professional I would resent constant instructions from the touch line.It’s more effective if it comes in small doses.
    While I would prefer to see Martinelli I thought that Willian actually looked half decent for once.

  3. Tezz February 26, 2021 at 10:33 am #

    What is it that william has over arteta… How is it that he gets given game time over any others.. He’s been with arsenal now for almost 2/3s of the season and apart from his pull back pass yesterday has done nothing every time he’s in the team I just think it’s a waste of chance for a younger player there are a few players in the squad who have been given there chances and now need to be dropped permantly. pepe William and Luiz have cost us games and points this season xhaka has only done a little better so many times this season he has stopped an attack starting by passing backwards I’m sure if you counted his passes there would be more back than forward nketiah is another he’s been given his chance loan him out and bring in balogun I think he has far more promise than nketiah now… There are about 4 or 5 others who also are not good enough even as squad players.. I like arteta and I’m glad he’s been given a chance but I do question some of his reasoning behind team selection when he keeps insisting on using those players over promising youngsters martinelli needs game time now he is fit and every time William or pepe plays I think martinelli will start thinking about going elsewhere… I have followed arsenal for many many years and have often seen managers stumble on a player or formation that works arteta has found Smith rowe and a formation that looks exciting and attacks well… Please don’t start choking the life out of the flare by over instructing them and taking the flare and individualism away he has untill the end of the season to get this right and along with edu has the summer to make the changes needed because I don’t think he will get the time if it goes wrong next season

  4. allezkev February 26, 2021 at 1:26 pm #

    Great post Mike, yes we do look a tad over-coached but maybe that’s to compensate for the issues that still remain in this squad of players, a squad who veer from the sublime to the truly ridiculous.

    Ceballos proved, if any proof was needed, that we need another upgrade of Partey’ish proportions in our midfield and to me it’s a priority for this summer as is a right back. I love Hector as a person but I thought he was a clear weakness both from an attacking and a defensive perspective, in fact I think that Soares deserves a run at right back now.

    I’m not too worried about Martinelli as I think his time will come, he’s only what 19 and when he finally gets into the team he’ll be fine. We’ve got a lot of football to play this season and he’ll get opportunities.

    Good point regarding ESR and Ode, I think that Arteta is still working out the best way to utilise them fully and maybe playing ESR wide just takes some of the load off of him. I’m so happy to see that Emile has retained his fitness and next season he’ll be a year older and stronger and he’ll be ready to fly.

    I don’t think we’ll retain Odegaard if I’m honest, I can’t see us paying the type of fee that Real Madrid will want for him and I can’t see Ceballos staying either, he’s been good in spells but maybe we need to raise our level from him, in fact I’m sure we need to raise our level?

    Talking about the Tierney goal and doing the unpredictable maybe that was behind the pot shots that Xhaka and Luiz had, I just wish they worked more on their shooting accuracy and velocity in training.

  5. Brandon B February 26, 2021 at 6:38 pm #

    Well done as usual Mike! Love the way you look back at every match pragmatically. Top stuff!

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