Abysmal. Arteta. Atkinson.
It’s not like I ever thought there would ever be any other outcome. Losing is not the issue. Losing three games, in of itself, is not entirely the issue. How abject we played. How defeated the players looked. How clueless the tactics were. How meaningless our effort was. How lacking in defensive capabilities. This are just a few of the issues. This is as embarrassed as I can remember being. But before we dissect this further let’s recognize how absolutely appalling Atkinson was. Not a single meaningful decision went our way. How is it that Chambers can be punched in the face and that second goal stands? He’d previously booked Kolinsac for a flailing arm. But here, even on review, there is no free-kick. And the sending off. He initially goes with a yellow card and then upgrades to a red. Was it a stupid tackle. Yes., Was it classic Xhaka. Yes. But that was not a straight red. Sorry. And that completely trashed the game. It turned it into a rout. Not to say we would not have ended up there anyway. So now we’ve acknowledged the complete injustice and ineptness of Atkinson, let’s delve into our own ineptness. And let’s also be clear. With Xhaka on the pitch – using the formation Arteta set up with – we could easily have lost by more. City might not have taken their foot off our throat if we had a full complement of players on the pitch.
So, where to start? How about with the selection. We know about the injuries and illnesses. But how do you start with Cedric in your team. After the Chelsea game what is there to know about him? He’s a liability who will always keep the opposition on-side. What is he doing in this squad let alone in the team. I understand that Bellerin might be injured but how can you not play AMN. I really don’t care what AMN’s preference is. This is not a play-date where the little boy does not like the friends. He’s a professional footballer who the club pays. Make him play.
How poor was Cedric? He was so poor that Kolinsac was not the worst player on our team. There was too much competition for that. How does Kolinsac start against Manchester City? The league champions and one of the best teams in Europe. This guy was out on loan for the last six months of the prior season. Finally, we’d got him out of our squad. And now? He’s starting against Manchester City? How is that possible. Under any scenario. Under any circumstances. How can this be? It’s not like we don’t have other choices. We just bought one from Benfica. And he’s played pretty ok. He played in pre-season whereas Kolinsac barely did. What’s the point of pre-season. Tavares should have been starting. Instead of either Cedric or Kolinsac. That is on Arteta.
And how poor was Chambers? We have 5 minutes of possession and pressing and then in their first attack Chambers is out jumped by their 5 foot 9 midfielder? How is that possible? He was ripped apart against mighty Brentford, we drop him against Chelski and then decide, against one of the other best teams in Europe, we will bring him back to help us against City. Then for the second goal he flops after being clearly hit in the face. How this is not a foul – especially after review – is beyond me. But, last time I checked Chambers was a tough center half. How do you flop there and not man up and stick with your defender? Of course, in front of goal you have Cedric sticking out a floppy foot rather than blocking the ball. What the fuck is he doing on this team? On this squad, in this club? He was not good enough for Southampton but he can start for us? This beggars belief. This is on Arteta.
Mari, who was awful against Chelski sits on the bench. But we start with Cedric, Kolinsac and Chambers. And leave Sambi on the bench. That is on Arteta.
Then we line up with three attacking midfield players – Saka, ESR and Odergaard – with one holding mid-fielfer – Xhaka! Who thought that was going to work out well for us? Smabi sits on the bench where as Xhaka starts as our holding midfielder. We were completely overrun – even with 11 men on the pitch – as they found spaces behind these three and in front of Xhaka. At least we reverted to a back three. Unfortunately, he picked Chambers and had Kolinsac and Cedric as wing-backs.
Throughout the entire game City played crosses and chips behind our back-line where their midfielders swarmed through. There was no in-game adjustment for this. This is on Arteta.
This was a completely embarrassing performance. A shambles. A relegation like performance. Both by Arsenal, Arteta and Atkinson. Let’s not forget how much influence Atkinson had on this game. A game we were always going to lose anyway. But at least we would not have had the excuse of a referee tilting the balance of the game and giving Arteta the chance to hide behind that.
When Xhaka walks off the pitch Arteta taps him on the bum. What? He should be furious for an unnecessary foolish reckless tackle. Xhaka is experienced enough to know who the referee is. Initially Atkinson goes for a yellow then changes it to a red? Why? Did someone say something in his ear? I don’t understand why he need to send him off. Sure, he could justify it but it was not compelling; it was not an outrageous foul. Xhaka did win the ball. But then Atkinson was like this all game long. Whenever if doubt the balance of the decision went in Man City’s favour.
Xhaka, why give Atkinson the chance to send you off by jumping in, two-footed, off the ground? And who put Xhaka in the position to play like that? Who holds him accountable? Who, on seeing one of your most experienced players, one of your leaders, get sent off walks over and sympathetically taps him on the bum. Arteta. What?
They we wait till half-time to make and adjustments. Enough time for them to score yet another goal. And another time that Chambers gets beaten. Another occasion where Cedric is no-where to be found.
Games like this destroy Saka. And ESR. They are too young to process this. They were set up to fail. And, again, we see another poor Saka performance. No-one can get him the ball. He’s isolated. And split from ESR. ESR was overwhelmed. He had no support. Tierney was not involved. And whenever we had the ball they swarmed all over us. Odergaard looked reasonable. He worked and had some decent moments. Odergaard should check whether there is a return policy to Real Madrid. Maybe he can get his agent to undo this transfer. He must be thinking he’d be better off with Ancelotti rather than Arteta. Who wouldn’t?
In many ways we were so lucky. This scoreline could have been so much worse. Maybe it would have been better for us – long-term – if we had been smoked 8-0 with 11 players on the pitch. Then there would be no hiding as to how wrong – again – Arteta got it.
I don’t understand. As I’ve said before. When he first arrived he tightened up the defense. Knew how to set us up to play the top 4 teams and had a clear strategy. And played AMN. Now he looks like he’s completed lost the plot.
We do not look like a team. We have no clear style. And we have no heart. We are too weak; always being pushed off the ball and losing any 50:50 if not 60:40 challenge. This is on Arteta.
For any other club, you could be sure that Cedric and Chambers would never play in the EPL again. But Arsenal? They’ll be back against Norwich and Burnley. That is on Arteta.
This performance – by Arteta – makes me despair. After today I don’t know I can defend him any more. Too many poor selection decisions. Complete inability to change his in-game tactics. I considered taking 24 hours to write this review but then realized I needed to exercise the demons and find a way to enjoy the weekend. At least we got this fiasco out of the way quickly.
BTW, why is it that Arsenal FC seems to be the only team that has played that get infected with COVID. Last year we were the first club in England to be afflicted – starting with Arteta; there’s a signal if there ever was one – and now we have experienced more infections than any other club? How is that possible?
They won’t sack Arteta. As I’ve said many a time, the owners are tone deaf. But, for the first time, for me, I would not complain. I fear he’s lost the plot. There is no excuse for his team selection and his tactics. This is not the Arteta that we originally saw. But it’s the one we have no. And this one is not working. This team was beaten inside 20 minutes. Just like last week. So, officially, my faith has gone. Sorry Mikel. This was too painful. Too much of a shambles. Too embarrassing. I know it’s only three games in but we are a valid, legitimate, odds-on relegation candidate now. How Norwich must be looking forward to coming to the Emirates. Perfect time for them to get some points. And then we have Burnley waiting in the wings. They have to be licking their chops. They know – with Woods etc all – they can push us around and tear up this defense. Dyce is surely praying to the football thugs that we play the two Cunts – Cedric and Chambers – so that they can bully us off each and every challenge. It’s all so predictable.
How depressed am I with the situation. I’m so depressed that I’m finally embracing the two week International break. FIFA need to step up and extend this break from 2 weeks to about 6 months. Maybe COVID can infect enough players – as they are forced to journey into the swamps and wastelands in search of various infections all in the names of FIFA greed – so that the season gets cancelled.
This is so exhausting. So deflating. This is not like when we lost 8-2 at United. Then we at least had a proven manager. Ironically it was immediately after that game that we signed Arteta (and Mertasacker). It’s not clear what signings we can make to fix this. It’s not the players at this point. It’s the manager. And the misery does not stop here. Even if todays game was not dispiriting enough we’ll now have to listen to the media crushing us over the next two weeks. There is no hiding for us. But, rest assured, the owners will be hiding.
Maybe West Brom U-17s might be available for a re-match. Bring on AFC Wimbledon!