August 13th – Brentford 2 Arsenal 0

Ouch. That was painful. Friday 13th – unlucky for some. Certainly for me. What a way to start the season. We should expect to be bottom of the table after 3 games now. No points after three games. I just hope Arteta can survive beyond the first 10 games.

This performance was too similar to all our pre-season games. Those could be written off as pre-season but unfortunately we are seeing that the past does influence the future. The patterns established – i.e. losing against Hibernian etc – flowed through into the season. Sure we had key players missing. But this is Brentford. And the worrying part is that player for player we better. The value of the players in our team dwarfs them. So how can they beat us like that? I fear some of it comes down to coaching – and of course a few players.

Key mistakes killed us. But we’ve seen that many times before. As much as I love Chambers he was at fault three on the first goal. He was too slow in coming out when he cleared the ball from the by-lane – and he cleared it into the center of the pitch. And then he did not get close enough to their attacker to block the shot. As much as I like Chambers though I dislike Leno. He was at fault for both goals though I’m being a little harsh on the first goal. But that second goal tells you all you need to know about Leno. He is not suited to the physical English game. He allowed himself to get tied up with their player. He does not assert himself and dominate in the air. That throw-in should have been won in the air by Mari but Leno should have gotten their first and punched it away.

Last year we tried to buy their goalie and ended up with Runnerson instead. You can see why we should have bought him. If we were prepared to pay upwards of £25 for Ramsdale then we clearly made a mistake by paying up for Raya. Of the two goals one was comfortable with the ball at his feet, able to distribute to his players calmly and not put them under pressure. And that same goalie was able to dominate in the air. And that goalie was not Leno. Please oh please can we sell him now before the window shuts. He is a great shot stopped – as he showed again today – but he undermines the defense. Leno should have been born 10 years earlier. Then he’d have played in an era when goalies were not expected to play out from the back. He missed his time.

Clearly we were toothless up front. Martinelli was barely in the game and Balogun hardly touched the ball. He had one chance in the box in the first half and he overran the ball. Of course, we did not create too much for him. Having said that we put in a number of crosses – mainly from the wonderful Tierney. There was just no-one in the box. To be fair (and for the first game of the season, why not) he looks like he has a nice touch and is intelligent in his passing. But, like a number of our players, it’s too easy to ease him off the ball or out muscle him. Which for a center forward is not so great.

On the cheerful side, of wait, there are not reasons to be cheerful. Ok, on the marginally less negative side White again demonstrated why we needed him. Sure he also made a few mistakes but overall you can see why he is a natural replacement for David Luiz. Sambi had a strong game. Working hard, tracking back and also linking up well in midfield. He is a very similar player to Partey but just maybe a bit more skillful. Xhaka was solid bunt, as ever, defensively venerable because of his slowness. Pepe had the usual flashes of enterprise but just could not get pass his man. I felt a little sorry for ESR. He was full of endeavor just lack a willing runner in front of him. He had a golden chance in the second half but lacked conviction. Overall though he was one of the few players that shone.

It’s not like they ripped us apart and peppered our goal. But you can’t lose to them. Not the first game of the season. We were not aggressive enough, not pressing enough and lacking and real end product. And some of this does fall on Arteta. A lot falls on Edu. They had three months to get new signings in and move our other players. Why do we still have four right backs? Why do we not have a back up goalie or a Leno replacement in place already? This is what will frustrate the screaming masses. And it will just heap pressure on Arteta. He is safe for 10+ games. But after today it’s going to be a month of pressure because we won’t have any points until after Manchester City. It’s such a waste of the momentum we built at the end of last season.

I mean, you can’t lose to Brentford. Under any circumstances. And today it looked like we got out coached. They got more out of their players than we did out of ours. I’m still all-in with Arteta but the Arteta Out Brigade (AOB) will be in full voice now.  Come Chelski it will be interesting to see how much tolerance there is if we quickly go behind or male the usual mistakes. There seems to be a mental frailty in this team that Arteta has yet to cure.

It was good to see Saka back. You can see how the dynamic of the team changed with him on the pitch. The interplay with ESR and Tierney was much the best of the entire team. Pepe does not have that understanding with others. If we had a forward who could shot on target we might have stood a better chance. There were periods where we retained possession but lacked any threat in the box. And it’s not clear that Aubameyang, when he returns, will solve that issue. But I believe Cigarette can.

What a terrible way to start the season. And let’s not ignore how embarrassing this result is. Losing to a non-existent club from West London who’ve never been in the Premier League. This time last year we smacked a new promoted team – Fulham. This year they smacked us. How can that happen? What happened in the last year. Because we have a better squad now. This is where all eyes turn to Arteta.

We have to be patient though. It’s a long long season. And this year, without the distraction of Europe, there will be time to get this right. The season is not decided with our first game. It will take Arteta time to sort this out. And Edu has three weeks to fix this squad. He is the one that should be – literally – in the firing line; not Arteta.

What a terrible way to start the season. That was dreary and draining. It was like suffering through a repeat of playing against Stoke with all those long throws. But it’s just sucks any enthusiasm out of the start of the new season when you sit through a performance like that. There is a lot of work to be done before the end of this month. And Arteta has to pace himself. The owners will want to give him as much time as possible. But I fear that our own fans will be up in arms after the next few games. It’s the fans who forget that their role is to be supporters of the club and no FIFA managers. But as long as we make the stupid mistakes we made today that hands them a rod for his own back.  

What a terrible way to start the season. Depressing. And did I mention embarrassing. Now we have a week to regroup. We will have a find a way to take our chances next week. We have to find someone who can score for us. Maybe we can sign that ugly, big chinned England captain. I hear he wants to sign for a team that can compete at the highest level. He just needs to emulate Sol Campbell and he’ll be fine. He would win medals galore. If that is, he could wait around for another 10 years.

On the bright side. It can only get better from here.


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