Not losing, (while trying not to lose…) (Positives Needs & Hopes) [MUN 0-1 ARS]

Not losing, while trying not to lose

An Arsenal blog from a coach’s perspective

Well, that was a surreal experience.

Not at all what I had expected or predicted. I thought that we would dominate the ball. That they would allow us to do so. We would score two before half time and United would give up and the final score would be Man Utd nil Arsenal a lot. I’m not sure if what I saw was tactical genius or a risky dice roll, or both.

It was clear that we were trying to stop transitions. That this was the only way that they could score. That they would be confused and unready if we gave them the ball. Some have said that we just played poorly and we were trying to dominate. That’s not what happened though and proven by the strategy not changing in the second half either.

I think that if Arteta had this game back he would lean into ball domination because what I saw that he probably didn’t bank on was the nervous energy that I think he accidentally created by changing our game model.

Man Utd seemed to win most all of the duels. The fact that our wide players stayed more central rather than spreading the big Old Trafford pitch out was conservative and telling. Arsenal are a team built on automatisms and those were taken away. Our midfield lost the ball regularly because they were unsure. Players were in different locations. I think the nervous energy came from the players walking out there not knowing where each other might be. I thought that this risk was too big and gave United an advantage because it took away ours.

On the other hand, Arteta leant into our greatest strength. Keeping clean sheets. Essentially 1 in every 2 games this season. Remarkable. He trusted that we could close the front door and have them try the back door only to find bouncers at every door they tried. What I’m sure he didn’t bank on was creating this negative energy which caused us to lose possession and duels so frequently that our bouncers were knocking on the manager’s door at the end of the game asking for overtime pay.

Considering that we rocked up to see Manchester United in the worst shape they’ve been in in my lifetime, I feel that if he had that back he wouldn’t risk paying his bouncers overtime and would try to be ball dominant and trust that his bouncers have worked at small terraced homes as well as huge country estates with far more ground to cover.

Because we won, Arteta can point to that and rightly so and scream success and genius and I would just nod and agree because sitting here today, I don’t care how it happened. We leant into nullification and we nullified.

I would just like Mikel to stop by my house sometime and help clean the poopy stains from the couch. He can bring the PL trophy with him and smack me upside the head when he’s done. It would be well deserved.


William Saliba

It’s a shame that the FA vote for their awards back in early February. If you have been as baffled as I over the years as to why they don’t wait until the season is actually over before voting then read on. My ITK powers have deduced that it takes Carlos 4 months to ride from Newcastle to Bournemouth and everywhere in between collecting vote totals. By the looks of Carlos, I think he puts the votes on his head.

a man on a donkey images - Google Search

Sorry that the image of Carlos is so grainy. It was shot with one of those throw away cameras from the 90’s. The 1790’s. I just wanted to fall in line with similar traditions that the FA use.

If and when Carlos and his donkey (Jeff) are no more, and the FA realize that voting could be done on an app in 12 seconds, then William Saliba might have a chance of winning more than just Man of the Match.


Saliba doesn’t need recognition because he has what matters. He is the best young defender in the world. He has respect from everyone who understands football. This image is the main reason why.Trossard:

Everybody is saying the same things. He deserves to start. He scores vital goals. He’s the best finisher at Arsenal. He went to the same dentist as Gabriel. What is imminent and very interesting is that with summer improvements on the horizon, I bet most fans would shift Trossard to the bench in their 24-25 line up. Sometimes football is simple. You can look into the world of XG this or field tilt that but when you pick a team who is consistently effective in big moments, you are likely over thinking it to not include him.


Perhaps the argument should be more about maximizing the pace and enthusiasm of Martinelli as a sub and game changer because he’s built for that. Perhaps we should consider that the next level is finding players that can execute against Bayern Munich away and that more Leo’s are what we need.


David Raya:

Because United didn’t create hardly anything, it will be forgotten that Raya was yet again pivotal. He has a gift of cutting out danger before it becomes danger.



I think Paul is right.

I’m not sure if the block is mental. Well, that’s not true. I think it has to be. It’s most certainly not a technical or tactical lack and only Odegaard gets bullied and that’s only when he receives it with his back to goal, which is rare. Do some of our players have an inferiority complex? Over thinkers? Too much respect for opponents? Does the coach tighten their shoulders?


What an incredible mess that club is in. I dislike them more than any other team. Probably from growing up with the rivalry and the cheating that routinely happened through intimidation when Fergie was in charge. Their problems are so widespread. Like a disease that has spread rampantly. You will have seen the leak in the roof and may have seen that it was also raining in the away changing room. That makes the embarrassment public where much of it is hidden at Carrington which is apparently worse than their performances on Saturdays. Their biggest problem is the wages of the crap that they have. Martial, Maguire, Eriksen, Casemiro and on and on. They are going to have to endure the pain that we went through of paying off players to get them to move.

It’s almost as funny as Spurs potentially winning the league for Arsenal on Tuesday.

Ben White:

Just a small detail but when he is defending 1 on 1 he shuffles his feet too narrow. That was why Garnacho was able to get a step on him.


Taking advantage:

Regardless of whether we win the league or not, Arsenal have now put themselves in the conversation when elite players change clubs. When I say ‘elite’ I mean the top 10 players in the world. I’m going to rattle off a list of the Top 10 players in the world without thinking too much so I don’t want to get into an argument with those that love arguments. I’m not including Arsenal players or those at the end of their careers chilling in Miami, for example.

Top 10 (I can’t count):

Jamal Musiala

Florian Wirtz

Kevin DeBruyne

Erling Haaland

Mo Salah

Vini Jr.

Kylian Mbappe


Jude Bellingham


Lamine Yamal

What’s the point of this? Well, Arsenal would undoubtedly be a potential destination if any of these players became available. There are only two reasons why it wouldn’t happen. If we didn’t want to go nuts on wages and start a frequent door knock at Colney with players like Saka, Saliba and Odegaard wanting parity. Secondly, that Arsenal are actually not interested. Not interested because our whole identity is built on ‘team’ more so than any other team I’ve seen in my lifetime. If you are a star, you conform. You defend with the same energy as you celebrate a a goal you score. If Mbappe was ever truly in the conversation at Arsenal, I have a feeling that the conversation might’ve been short. Arteta uncomfortable with whether he would negatively affect the culture and work ethic, so we move the conversation on.

Arsenal have their pick now. I think they might activate this privilege next transfer window rather than this one. I think this summer will be more about choosing bench options that Arteta will trust and use. That will be the icing. That will finish off the squad. Then I think Arteta will use his kitty to sign one or two superstars or potential superstars. One hundred million-ish on two players. That will be the cherry. That will be the Champions League, if it doesn’t happen before.


These transfer recommendations are getting more obscure. Still worth your time but now in the realms of ‘I’m not sure if his parents even know who he is.’ I introduce the ‘new Modric,’ Lovro Zvonarek. He is a 19 year old attacking midfielder at Bayern Munich. Pavlovic was trusted this season by Tuchel and he has just been confirmed as part of Germany’s Euro squad. Perhaps Zvonarek is the next in line.

Sometimes I wish Arsenal would do what Chelsea do (but better) and sign then loan players. Even loan them back to the club that would really rather not sell them. To get in the Bayern team, which he did as a starter on Saturday, he is likely Nwaneri level or better. Even better would be identifying more of this level of player at a younger age. Young players are rising faster.

I believe this summer much of this is being addressed. Check him out for yourself here…



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Arteta isn’t getting the credit, yet. At some point the media will have to admit that he is not only a very good coach but he is changing football. Influencers are the younger generation these days and this is reflected in coaching too. It’s not just Arteta. Xabi Alonso is creating a piece of history that may never be repeated. Thiago Motta and his Bologna side rightly had a street parade yesterday for getting CL football. There was Will Still at Reims last season and now Edin Terzic has taken what seemed like a mediocre Dortmund team to the final of the Champions League. All of this will mean that club owners will see this trend and the days of recycling coaches like Mourinho will be gone.


Again, as he said after the game, ” This isn’t just progress, it’s history.” That quote is  true and it’s T-shirt worthy.


It’s hard to see this from right here, especially from someone who picks the bones out of every performance, but this team will be remembered. It may be remembered because it sat City down and made them applaud or it might just be remembered as one of the best, if not the best team to not win the league.  With this stat they are directly comparable to the Invincibles. Not in final achievement, but in quality. Quality as individuals but more so as a team. I remember Wenger saying that he often had to motivate that team to make history. This team gives me the energy that they have gotten to the point where the coach is optional on game day.


Having gone through all of that analysis like you I’m sure, it’s over, we won, we beat United away, the roof nearly collapsed and we didn’t lose any of the 3 points we wanted because we played in the most odd game of the season. These three don’t care, either.


Forget, learn and move on. Sunday will be a day of either joy or pride. Hopefully, both.

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2 Responses to Not losing, (while trying not to lose…) (Positives Needs & Hopes) [MUN 0-1 ARS]

  1. Andy May 15, 2024 at 5:32 pm #

    Mike thanks for your expert analysis this season. Thought we haven’t won anything this season I can’t believe we won’t win anything next season.

  2. allezkev May 19, 2024 at 10:34 am #

    I really didn’t enjoy that game and for many reasons. Too many disappointing visits to OT and losing to poor United teams because we mentally didn’t turn up was omnipresent in me and it seemed in the team as after totally dominating and going 1-0 we went all ‘1-0 to the Arsenal’.

    United were truly awful and I felt that we left another 3 goals out on the pitch but the result was everything. All the same I couldn’t help feeling that we missed out on some payback.

    The reaction from the fans of most other EPL clubs is mystifying. Most of them don’t want Arsenal to win the league but I think this says more about their own club’s’ performance this season. They can come to terms with where they are if City win because of the subsidies, but if Arsenal win where is their own clubs’ excuses?

    Mike thanks for your post-match analysis this season and the transfer info from Max. I look forward to your review of the season once you’ve recovered from today and maybe some posts’ during the summer to keep us going.


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