Arteta’s Five Biggest Mistakes in Saturday’s Brighton Loss

Arteta mistakes

Anyone who knows me or reads my articles will know that I am an admirer of Mikel Arteta but even the best coaches get tactics and decisions wrong. On a lucky day the odd poor call may not cost your team, or you may have time in a match to readjust or even reverse a decision within the 90 minutes. Saturday was not such a lucky day for the Arsenal manager, and in my humble opinion he made multiple poor decisions, in selection, tactics, man management wise and even in game, with the substitutions.

One has to admire such self-belief in such a young manager, and we must hope, that he will begin to show he can admit errors in judgement and learn from his mistakes because on Saturday, needed his team to bounce back from a Selhurst Park horror show I feel he made 5.

Not backing Nuno Tavares – Tavares was Arteta’s own signing and began his Arsenal career well, initially keeping Tierney out of the team on his return from injury. However, having hardly been called upon, the young Portuguese talent has twice been withdrawn by Arteta, after poor displays against Nottingham Forest and last week versus Palace. If Nuno has a future at the club, man management surely meant an arm around the shoulder in the week and backing him on Saturday. Not the cold shoulder and replacing him with a slow central midfielder. In my view, the only justifiable reason not to play Tavares was if Arteta had switched to a back 3.

Playing Xhaka at left back – Obviously we know the Swiss skipper can do a job at left back, but moving him there on Saturday, not only will have been a kick in teeth for Tavares but severely weakened the midfield, already deprived of the injured Thomas Partey. Sambi Lokonga is an able deputy with the experience of either Xhaka or Partey, but to ask him to play there on his own with so little football of late, was preposterous.

Lacazette Saka

2 Eights – The knock-on effect of moving Xhaka to left back and playing Lokonga, might have been mitigated had Arteta reverted to 4231 for solidity and played the experienced and ever-reliable Mohammed Elneny alongside the young Belgian. Instead, he asked Smith-Rowe to play infield as a left-hand side 8, or so it appeared. This may be a role suited to the young England star but why experiment on the back of a 3-0 defeat in a must win game.

Too stubborn to change what was not working – With Smith Rowe and Odegaard not supporting Lokonga sufficiently, the youngster was overrun by a 3-man Brighton midfield, including the fabulous Bissouma and inspired Mwepu. Arteta had the tools to change his system to combat the visitor’s dominance, but he singularly failed to do so. He could have brought Rob Holding on to match systems with Potter’s tactically astute selection, allowing Xkaka back into the midfield, or brought Elneny on but instead he made poor late attacking changes, chasing a match which he could have retrieved long before his late desperation dice rolls.

Lacazette Loyalty – We all like the Frenchman, we really do. He has laboured like a trooper on his own, linking play, inspiring his younger colleagues and assisting but the simple truth is that his legs have gone and his confidence in front of goal with them. Arsenal need a striker to be scoring and Lacazette simply isn’t, so Arteta had needed to make a call, to either support his captain, by changing the system to give him a partner, or try Nketiah or Martinelli through the middle. For most fans, myself included, to see both Smith Rowe, and more so Martinelli withdrawn on Saturday whilst Lacazette stayed on the pitch was bordering on inexcusable.

There is a fine line between courage in your convictions, Mikel, and stubbornness and pomposity. On Saturday you crossed the line, but it is not too late to cross back and learn from the errors before you take your team to St Mary’s.


This post originally appeared in my Sun column, and is reprinted here with permission

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One Response to Arteta’s Five Biggest Mistakes in Saturday’s Brighton Loss

  1. Ukaz+George+ April 13, 2022 at 9:40 am #

    Mikel is not learning everyone knows that Kolo Ture was an attacker before Wenger conversation as a defender i bet you if Arteta had vision and pairs Lacazette and Lokonga in the midfield or allowed Xhaka to play along Lokonga we will not loose our match with Brighton or shift Gabriel to the left and pair Holding and White we will make good of the match but let’s forget about the past and watch our game with Southampton on Saturday and see how he Arteta will handle it there many good players in the squad but is lacking a lot of trust in them that is why he is predictable everyone knows whom he is going to field always as such he keep on burning the players no fresh leg we all know Smith Rowe was sick sometime ago why not feature Pepe or the boy that is making waves at under 23 how do you develop a player without giving him minutes by giving players minutes he built his confident you just keep a player when he knows he is not going to be used all of a sudden you asked him to dress up it is true as a player he will be ready what of his mindset if player know he is going to play tomorrow he start today thinking what he will do new tricks he apply by the time you have wasted their moral you will now ask them to dress up for a match of course what you will see is poor result so learn when your players need to be rested

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