The Blame Game is easy BUT this one was not on Arteta – Here’s why


Who should we blame?

Sometimes it’s not blame 

It’s so easy to look for blame.

It feels good. It removes a part of the frustration as we pass it off.

I’m more than happy to apportion blame when I think it’s deserved. I like to remain as emotionally stable as possible so as to not live in the world of extremes that lives around us.

I write this just 30 minutes after full time and as frustrated as I feel I strongly feel that blame needs to be carefully thrown on this occasion.

The accumulation of regular frustration tells us that our knee jerk rage is best placed at the manager as he is the short-term route to fixing it all.

In my job as a coach, I watch football through the lens of evaluating the coach’s role first.

I want to see a motivated team. A team chosen that fits the necessary game plan. A team of in form players. A team of working partnerships. There is more, but that’s enough.

When the game starts, I am fully aware that there is a large role that the coach can still play. Adjustments, taking advantage of their weaknesses, controlling game state, the importance of controlling your own emotions etc…


Perhaps the most important piece is setting your team up to create and deny.


Throughout last night’s game I was particularly aware that Arteta was under pressure, so my lens was fixed even more acutely on him. What I saw was a team that consistently created openings throughout the entire game. More openings than we’ve seen even recently in our post-Christmas revival.

The other half of Arteta’s job saw our defensive unit continually deny Slavia bar a few scraps.

Even though the press was intense and the time limited, Arteta had scouted and trained our boys to make numerous out/in runs to get behind them. Slavia were well coached. They are clearly a good team, yet Arsenal grew more and more dominant as Arteta adjusted to counter Slavia’s territorial share of the opening 15 minutes.

But we still want a scapegoat, right?



Not to blame

Well, firstly for me Arteta should be your last choice. He did HIS job. It’s not always his fault when we are frustrated just because he’s been frustrating us recently.

The short answer was that yet again, it was the finishing. Now if the coach hasn’t been working on finishing then the blame can be refocused back to him but I’m not throwing blame that I’ve no idea whether it’s fair or not.


My overarching thought on Mikel Arteta is that more often than not, he sets us up to succeed. I think Arsenal are still an imbalanced team that lacks goal threat throughout and ‘quality of confidence’ in certain positions.

I get the strong feeling that if Arteta gets what he wants in the summer that Arsenal could be next seasons surprise package. I don’t think this because I want to believe it. I just keep watching games of football where I think the players are not at the same level as their coach.

A controversial opinion amidst the current blame throwing but I know what I’m seeing.




-I’ve heard some serious nonsense this last week about the players not playing for Arteta. The last game wasn’t good but over the last 3 months Arsenal have been a serious team. A team set up to inspire consistent effort leaving the result down to technical factors.

Last night mocked those that thought that Arsenal are fading due to the disappointment of the Liverpool game. If that were true then why was the captain, who was yet again denied a big game start, pressing and fighting for 15 solid minutes when he’s supposed to be supporting the narrative of the cheap shots that want to say that he’s a problem child.

I applaud the players for lifting their chins off the ground after Saturday’s disappointment and dominating a tricky team. I wish we could’ve applauded goals but that’s currently our greatest imperfection.


Not sulking

-Bellerin should’ve been sulking too, right?

He’s off apparently and been dropped recently.

Not what I saw. I’m not really a fan but he had a far better game than I’ve seen in a long while.


-One of my favourite moments of watching our current team is how Partey uses deception in almost every touch. He has a joyful gift of making his intentions unknown to his opponent and this is what separates him from our other ordinary midfielders. It’s not just the willingness to take risks but the fact that he is able to succeed in it.



-If there was an armchair quarterback criticism of Arteta last night it would be the selection of Willian over Martinelli. Willian was as good as he’s been recently. A solid 6.5-7/10. He nearly won us the game with a delightful free kick. The game was more suited to Martinelli however, as he’d have thrived in the first half high line. Of course, our own Dave Seager made the case for Gabi to start yesterday.


Should have started (Thanks -Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

-We are still leaving attackers the freedom to turn in the attacking midfield area as the communication in the back is not sufficient from our centre backs for one of them to follow and deny the turn. It didn’t hurt us in this game, but it’s been a thread that needs fixing.

-Not only was the finishing of a poor quality but the crossing was too. Not helped by Lacazette’s continued unwillingness to separate himself from the defender and the lack of aerial threat too.

-I’m starting to see an issue with Gabriel in the last quarter of games. He can be very calm and solid throughout but if the game is tight, he starts to panic as he did last night.


Not the answer



-I think I’m one of the many who wants to see increased use of Martinelli in the rest of our campaign. Whether from the left or ideally a trial at centre forward. At the very least, we must know if we need to buy a centre forward in the summer and we can’t make a guess as to whether he is the answer. As we are drifting in the league, there is no better chance.



With more accurate finishing that game could easily have been a three-goal separation. My positivity isn’t living behind a blindfold but in the hope that when the finishing improves, it’s very possible that we still finish with a title and much hope for next season.

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7 Responses to The Blame Game is easy BUT this one was not on Arteta – Here’s why

  1. earlset April 9, 2021 at 9:35 am #

    Yes the finishing was poor but Arteta had the opportunity to make changes to the line up much earlier in the game.We saw the difference immediately when Martinelli came on for Willian.The other later substitutions reinforced this.If all of these changes had been made at the hour mark I am convinced more goals would have resulted.
    Time to reshape the team in the remaining PL games otherwise nothing will be learnt from fielding the usual suspects.

  2. Didrik Plehn April 9, 2021 at 10:01 am #

    Spot on, we created enough big chances to win with two or three goals. At the moment do we need to create a lot of chances to make a single goal. I’m optimistic, should be possible to win against them next week. Our recruitment policy is a bigger problem than our manager…

  3. Nick Smith April 9, 2021 at 11:21 am #

    I thought we generally played Ok last night. We were clearly being cautious in the first 20 minutes to not give anything stupid away and we then started to turn the screw a bit and with a bit mot more composure I really think we should have been 2 up at half time. The second half pretty much carried on where the first half left off and we were certainly going for it more, which did leave us open to the counter and there were a couple of heart in mouth moments that Prague should probably have made more of.

    I agree with Earlset though, I think Arteta left it too late to introduce the subs and I would certainly have brought Martinelli on sooner, but of course that is with the benefit of hindsight as we were creating chances in that second half before the changes and I guess Arteta was banking on them taking one of them sooner or later.

    Using Cedric as the left back is not the solution to the Tierney issue though as ably demonstrated at the end when instead of hoofing it clear he passed back to Gabriel. Obviously his mis-control didn’t help and we just brought the pressure back on ourselves. It has to be Saka who plays there and I think Pepe deserves a starting spot.

    I would start Auba up top next week, with Gabby on the left and Pepe on the right and Emile playing the 10 role pulling the strings in the absence of Odegard. Stick with Partey/Xhaka in midfield and have Saka at LB but the rest of the defence the same (maybe Cedric at RB as he seems to link better with Pepe).

    Clearly we are having issues with the quality of some of the players which will hopefully be addressed in the summer and I hope the board stick with Arteta a bit longer so he can mould the team with the players he actually wants, even if we crash out next week (though I can see a 2-2 draw coming and we win on away goals).

    I think the key message is we have to be patient, Arteta inherited a sh1t show of a team and he is gradually getting rid of the dross. What we do need is the board to actually see the bigger picture and invest a bit more in the team, so we can be challenging again.

    One final point – what is Jason Cundy on Talksport on about. Saying Arteta doesn’t dress like a manager, what a completely idiotic thing to come out with and as if that has anything at all to do with his ability.

  4. Mokua April 10, 2021 at 6:11 am #

    I don’t see anything special Martineli shall contribute to a squad that is demotivated!

  5. Bradley April 10, 2021 at 9:14 am #

    Whilst I believe Arteta wasn’t entirely to blame, a lot of blame can be laid at his door for in game failings and why we find ourselves in some of these positions.

    I struggle to believe we’ve been setup well in many games, we’ve allowed to many teams the opportunity to gain a foothold in matches.

    Many raved about the second half performance against West Ham, just imagine if we took the game to teams in this manner. (We used to be so effective in going at teams and it was especially effective against sides like Slavia)

    Too often under Arteta we’ve never come out of the traps like we mean business and we’ve had to rely on a leaky and error prone defence having a rare good day.

    On top of this the in game management has often been poor, we’re seeking a result and after 60 mins of huffing and puffing it should’ve been time for Martinelli & one of Pepe\Auba. There’s no need to rest these players and in any case a thumping win allows for more chance of rotation.

    Then there’s the midfield… Partey is clearly struggling for form and possibly it’s a fitness issue. But the managers pride has left us with a toss up between Elneny or Cellabos (I’d take Guendouzi over these as a sufficient alternative to try changing a game.)

    Don’t get me wrong Laca should’ve took his chances, but if we’re honest we lack a clinical finisher. Most of our forwards required 4/5 chances to convert one. Barring them finding their finishing improving overnight, we need to find away to be more creative.

  6. allezkev April 11, 2021 at 10:28 am #

    Saka with just the goalkeeper to beat inexplicably slides his shot wide of the post, Partey with time and space to measure his shot screws it wide, Lacazette clear through on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat and with us all waiting for a low hard shot into the corner of the net decides to check his run, adjust his body and try to bend a high looping shot around the goalkeeper, which then bounces off of the woodwork. Aubameyang then decides to copy Saka and somehow places his shot wide of the far post. If half of these go in then we’re in Easy Street, but they don’t and it’s Arteta’s fault….

  7. allezkev April 11, 2021 at 10:36 am #

    Poor finishing cost us at Wolves and then at Aston Villa at a time when we could have pushed up into the top six and maybe beyond, but poor finishing has wrecked all the other good work that’s been done this season gradually eroding the confidence of everyone and now we look like a team on the edge of a mental breakdown. You can blame Arteta for a lot of things, but you can’t blame him when a highly paid, highly trained professional footballer cannot do the basics like pass to a team mate or put the ball in the net.
    All the other issues stem from players not doing the basics…

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