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Arsenal’s opposition feeds on our lack of self-belief: can Arteta channel his inner Ted Lasso?

Arsenal and football seldom cause me to get angry, well not as often as they used to at least. When expectations are low and you have accepted that, for the present, Arsenal are a cup team at best, there really is no point. However, this acceptance has been made easier with the emergence of homegrown talent that fills you with pride and some genuinely top drawer new signings.

Having said all that, whilst one may accept our current station below the present Premier League elite, there are two things that are required. To use a term our manager is fond of using, these are my non-negotiables: that my Arsenal play attractive, progressive football and that I can see a tangible plan to take us back were I want my team to be.

In short, if I accept that my team is not going to challenge for Premier League, which I do, what I want, as a minimum requirement, is to go to matches and enjoy watching the style and brand of football. Sadly, and too often, that is simply not the case in 21/22 and last night’s debacle was right up there with the worst nights for Arsenal in recent years, and certainly under Arteta. I’d rather spend my evenings here than watch a rudderless team play poor football.

What makes last night, and indeed the loss at Old Trafford so galling, is that both teams were struggling and devoid of confidence until Arsenal came to town. Everton have an average squad pulled together by a plethora of failed managers and strategies and it was our style and approach to the match, particularly having taken the lead that gave a team, on a huge winless streak a belief they could come back. Our lack of belief gave them theirs!

Arteta, by a combination of inheriting a talented group of Hale End products and shrewd purchases has begun to build a half decent squad, but there is appears to be a disconnect between their talent and their self-belief and how they approach matches. It is hard to believe that 10 outfield players collectively take their foot of the gas and sit back on a slender lead so often by mistake.

Nketiah miss

Part of the issue, or perhaps most of it, seems to be an inability to carve out regular opportunities for our strikers, combined with a lack of form and confidence from those individuals to take the chances we do create. This factor is probably the sole reason why I am still willing to back the manager because I do feel he does not have the potent striker he needs or indeed the style of forward he wants.

Aubameyang is devoid of confidence, has lost a yard or two of his once frightening pace, is uncomfortable with the hold up and link play in the 4231 and most worryingly is not truly making those runs in behind the teams needs. Lacazette conversely has the hold o and link play but rarely has the speed or even the instinct to get involved in the box at the end of any move and is leaving us anyway. There is no sense in building our future around either player anyway give their age so the question is whether Arteta believes Martinelli cam play centrally and I for one, would like him given an opportunity. The less the bizarre decision to start giving Nketiah game time, directly after he has confirmed he is not signing a new deal, the better.

Although the strange selections do not stop with the want away England U21 striker, when Sambi and Maitland-Niles have both shown steady form without the errors, whilst Partey stays in team regardless of how poorly he plays. I have no idea where the player from pre-season is but given, he presumably will be off to AFCON, if the Ghana coach is not watching Arsenal, Arteta needs to plan for that eventuality NOW. Why he would completely disregard one record signing in Pepe, for underperforming and yet ignore the Ghanaian’s woeful sub-par displays cannot do much for squad harmony. Xhaka, Sambi and Maitland-Niles are not going away in January so let’s at least try combinations of those three now.

The problem is I like Arteta, I always have. As a player I wanted us to sign him, and I expected a player who read the game so well to become a top coach and perhaps he will. I am impressed with his signings of the last window, and I love our back 5. I also have no issues with Smith Rowe, Saka and Odegaard but they need better support from the midfield two and a better target of a striker who can combine the best of Aubameyang and Lacazette (circa 2018/19).

Believe

The question for the fanbase and the club is, do we have the faith Arteta can bring in the central midfielder we need or the ability to get more from those we have and crucially the striker the 4231 deserves. Or perhaps should he switch back to 442 or 433? I hope the Spaniard is the man, I honestly do, but many more performances devoid of strategy, invention, or belief as we saw at Goodison, and it won’t just be me coming off the fence. Mikel – let them play and express themselves when we go 1-nil up please!!

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