Some huge decisions for Arteta ahead of Prague but as we fickle fans demonstrate; it is not easy being the boss


Decisions to make

Ahead of Thursday, as you would expect I have been tasked with looking at the decisions Arteta needs to make for the second leg against Slavia Prague. Despite a formidable home record, and some notable scalps in Europe, the Czech champions showed little to frighten Arsenal in my view last week. The home draw was far more about Arteta’s team set up, the failure to take well created chances and of course, the obligatory defensive lapse.

With the injuries in the squad and the sheer inconsistency of performance, both from individuals and from the collective selected, how to approach Thursday is far from straight forward. To demonstrate this, I thought it might be amusing to run through the inconsistency of our own ‘selections’ and observations as supporters of late. If you like, a light-hearted way to highlight the dilemmas and I am including myself in this flip floppery, well some of it, at least. 😊


Disappointing or sensational?

  • Apparently, Sunday proved that Partey has been overshadowed by Xhaka, as all our play comes through the Swiss. It is all Xhaka’s fault for limiting the scope of Partey and as soon as he is not alongside him, we see the player we thought we had signed. The same fans were posting and retweeting disparaging observations suggesting that in Partey, we thought we were getting the new Vieira but instead we go the old Alex Song.
  • Without Kieran Tierney many suggested Arteta should utilise Saka at left back. This was met with a, why would we play our best attacking creator at left back? Are these the same fans who have watched Tierney being our best attacking threat from left back all season? The same supporters who thought it far better to play a natural fullback there in Cedric, even on his wrong, who then cursed the Portuguese International, for turning back on to his right foot, rather than clearing with his left in injury time!
  • Following this logic, perhaps those that have decided after the last two matches that they want a left footed left back and do not want Xhaka to play with Partey in central midfield will be delighted if the intelligent Swiss stays at left back this week?
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Jury in or out?

  • The same fans who lauded Gabriel as the new Sol Campbell last Autumn, now feel he perhaps throws himself to the ground to easily, makes rash decisions and genuinely always new that Mari, we did not want because of his agent, was a better footballer.
  • Of course, the biggest U turn of all from us Gooners is the Aubameyang, Lacazette reversal. We have gone from waxing lyrical about the bromance and special chemistry that led us all to want both on the pitch, however the manager fudged it, to, it must be one or the other through the middle, to Lacazette can play the sole striker role and our skipper cannot. The last reversal kind of happened in three days. Lacazette was so bad against Prague and we improved when Aubameyang came on, such that we all criticised Arteta for not starting his skipper. Followed inevitably by, perhaps Lacazette could be given a new deal to mentor Balogun and we could sell Auba!

Bromance or last chance?

  • The last excruciating dilemma on Aubameyang and Lacazette is now further complicated by the fact that Martinelli cane through unscathed (relatively) and is fit for this week. As I discussed in last week’s column we have all wanted the young Brazilian to be re-introduced, but perhaps we did not envisage this would be at the expense of our captain and until recently talisman and hero.

In short, none of us have consistency of opinions, and recent impressive or poor performances, by the team or individuals easily sway us. We even convince ourselves that we had always held that view on occasion but expect Mikel Arteta to know and get it right on every occasion. Yes, it is why he is in the job and not us, and why he is pay the big salary and we aren’t.

It is also why he simply must get it right this week and if I were a betting man, I would not bet on Lacazette and Aubameyang both starting. A huge call for a young manager …….


Full unedited version of yesterday’s Sun Football Fan Column

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2 Responses to Some huge decisions for Arteta ahead of Prague but as we fickle fans demonstrate; it is not easy being the boss

  1. BSB April 16, 2021 at 8:06 am #

    Cracking win for the gunners over prague last night. Surely now have a solid shot of getting back into the Champions League with a Europe league title. Would make up for what has honestly been a disappointing season.

  2. blave April 16, 2021 at 11:28 am #

    It is hilarious to watch the opinions change from one moment to the next or at least on a weekly or monthly basis. The fact that the team has been so hot and cold this year and that Arsenal fans seems to be especially reactionary at times too amplifies things even more .

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