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In Arteta I believe but Arsenal have underachieved!

Mikel-Arteta-F365-2

Debate goes on

It’s evident the Arteta in or out debate will continue to rage amongst our fan base after every Arsenal result. Win, lose or draw, it’s “I told you so” and it’s become as predictable as our lack of consistency on the pitch.

Surprisingly, there was even negativity after winning the recent North London derby. Can these ‘supporters’ ever have a day off to just enjoy seeing their team win? No, one good result doesn’t define our season or change any of our previous disappointing results but it’s certainly nice to have the local bragging rights.

 

Laca-vs-Spurs

If you’re not happy after beating that lot, when are you?

I’ve been called negative by other fans for some of my views in the past but I’ve always considered someone to be a more negative supporter if they accept frequently below par poor performances from the team, whilst at the same time, openly admitting that they believe the players are far more capable than the results they’ve been delivering.

Regular readers will think that I’ve been hard on Mikel with some of my criticisms of him this season. In some ways, perhaps I have but that’s because I believe in the quality of the players at his disposal and I want to see my team consistently playing to its potential. For some time now, we haven’t.

Put simply, the squad of players we have should be higher than mid table, so why sugar coat it and make excuses for that not being the case? Every team has been playing games during a pandemic, without fans and with a busy fixture schedule. The way some supporters talk, you would think it’s only our manager who has had to cope with that.

The reality is that we have underachieved so far this campaign and I’m not sure why so many supporters refuse to admit that. It’s as if us unexpectedly winning the FA Cup last year has clouded the judgement of many fans when it comes to what they are seeing this season. Of course, winning the Europa League would salvage what has been a very disappointing season in other competitions.

 

Arteta

Harsh but fair on Arteta?

Admittedly, there’s been improvement in the quality of some of our overall performances over the last few months and we now offer more of a goal threat than we did earlier in the season. In truth, we couldn’t offer much less, however, the frequent costly defensive errors have returned and we have lost our ability to keep a clean sheet, even against poor sides. It’s now twelve games without one.

As frustrating as our defensive errors have been, I find our wastefulness in front of goal as concerning and no, our manager can’t be blamed for our attacking players lack of composure. Something that despite all his obvious talent, Saka in particular lacks and even the previously reliable Aubameyang has been guilty of this season. It could be argued that we look a more balanced team without Aubameyang too but for all Mikel’s ruthlessness when it comes to lateness, we’ve yet to see that he’s brave enough to drop his captain for on field reasons.

When fans are unable to praise Mikel for our results, they instead credit him for clearing out the deadwood but it was the board who sanctioned paying off the unwanted players. As fans we are quick to criticise them when they don’t pay up but where’s the praise for when they do?

Many won’t agree but I strongly retain the opinion that poor management from Mikel was costing us earlier in the season and that it was only enforced changes that ultimately led to our eventual improvement. Changes that a lot of supporters had wanted him to make far earlier, I should add. How long had some fans been saying Cedric should be given a run ahead of Bellerin or that Smith Rowe should play for example.

 

Smith-Rowe

Delayed inclusion costly?

I appreciate it’s not uncommon for managers to stumble upon winning formulas through luck rather than judgement and yes, it’s better late than never but you will have to excuse my reluctance to call our manager a tactical genus just yet. Lead us to European success Mikel and perhaps I will reconsider. Trophies aren’t the only yardstick that I judge managers on but of course they help. Getting the best out of the resources available is the key criteria and I don’t believe Mikel is at present.

I’ve started to see the phrase ‘short term pain for long term gain’ being regularly used in relation to Arteta’s management and whilst I’m content to take a step backwards in order to move two forwards, I believe we could have made progress sooner and less painfully had our manager done things differently.

New loan addition Odegaard has impressed with his growing influence in recent games but I’ve not been purring about Partey as yet like many fans have. I obviously recognise that there’s a very talented player in there and it’s refreshing to have a midfielder who always looks to play the ball forwards but I haven’t warmed to him as quickly as others appear to.

 

Partey

Waiting to warm to Partey

 

Whilst I can acknowledge he’s not had a run of full fitness, that he’s adapting to playing in a new league and believe he will come good in time, I don’t see the Vieira comparisons. Thomas doesn’t play with anywhere near the same intensity or aggression and has a very calm and laid back demeanour. Undoubtedly someone somewhere will attempt to prove me wrong with the use of stats, after all, you can ‘prove’ anything with them if that’s your intention.

The stats show that Arteta will have fewer points than Emery did by the time he reaches fifty one league games in charge, the stage of the latter’s Arsenal reign where he was sacked after losing the faith of the players and supporters. I haven’t lost faith in the manager but he does have a better squad than Emery had and we need to start seeing a more consistent improvement….

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