The guy who ruined our club can put it right?, Yeah, right!
We will win all our matches
We will have 105 points at the end of the season. I am very confident that will be our final figure - if we win all our matches between now and the end of the season! That will, of course, be enough to win the Premier league. Even if we throw in a few draws or another defeat or two we will probably be able to win the league judging by previous seasons. Manchester United won with 75 in 1996-97 and that would allow us 10 more defeats.
So why are we all saying Arteta out? So much is still possible for our season, including winning the league. We could be like a boxer who gets knocked down in the first round, to the collective groan of all his supporters, but claws his way back into the fight and wins. Look at Tyson Fury, effectively knocked out in his first fight with Deontay Wilder, still regarded as the hardest hitter in boxing. Fury’s eyes rolled around in his head, but somehow he got up, scrambled a draw and then learnt from that to win well the return and become champion of the world. We don’t believe that, though, of Arteta and Arsenal. Why?
Tyson Fury got up from an impossible position
Oh no we won’t
Because they have been a shambles, and Saturday’s game against Man City was, I feel, the worst Arsenal performance ever. Bruce Rioch never presided over an embarrassment like that and he is generally regarded as the worst manager in my Arsenal supporting lifetime. We have been thrashed many times, even under our best, Arsene Wenger, but we were always playing, always trying, always dangerous. The only way we were dangerous on Saturday was when Granit Xhaka launched his foolhardy lunge to get himself sent off. To give an example, Man Utd and 8-2, which is the worst score I can remember offhand, we scored 2 and kept attacking all the time, leaving spaces for the Man Utd players to exploit. Truly, we didn’t play all that badly. Watch it again if you don’t believe me.
But City on Saturday was almost entirely shameful. No shots, no marking, no organisation, no rhythm, no flair, we were like a hungover Sunday team flailing about playing a team several divisions above us in a friendly. It is very hard to see how to turn that around. But Norwich and Burnley are next. In theory 2 wins and confidence restored for the next biggie, the Spuds. It depends on whether confidence is the problem or bad coaching. Truly, it is starting to look like bad coaching or something wrong behind the scenes. However Liverpool, last season, went through a very bad run and a Liverpool friend was saying similar, that something is wrong. At one point Champions league looked very unlikely, but Klopp turned things around, they went on a late run and got top four. Can we do the same? The problem is that Arteta is not Klopp, he hasn’t got the credibility or the trophies to work on the players.
Soon to be the last time we see such pictures?
He has to trade in wins
Those who have read my previous “Where can we finish” blogs will note that I have consistently said Arteta has only one currency he can trade in now, wins. He did finish last season pretty strongly but that is all undone now. The fact that the Kroenkes have backed him in the transfer market though limits their room for manoeuvre. Sack him now and a new manager has a team that he didn’t choose, made up of potential but maybe not suiting his vision.
Another potential problem is the big stars attitude, I believe Aubamayang is a toxic influence, constantly pushing the boundaries of behaviour. I never liked players who go on strike for a move as he did to get to Arsenal. It seems he also doesn’t like having to accept the schedules of lesser players. Granit Xhaka is another toxic influence, I feel. Constantly screaming at players, but ignoring his own ability to get red-carded at vital times. Leaving us without the most vital midfielder – the defensive one, in a game against the best in England. A few weeks ago, he said his team-mates weren’t good enough to win trophies and now he is back as captain? I am sorry but Arteta is allowing unacceptable things to happen. The young players are watching these bullshit role models and learning bad habits. Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger never allowed players to be bigger than the club. Both players mentioned have top ability and, I believe, have genuine affection for Arsenal, but a good manager has to be in charge, and he is responsible for ensuring that he gets the best from his squad. That, I reckon, is now beyond Arteta.
Realistically, what can we do?
So, let’s look at the season. We have 16 matches to halfway and at the start of the season we would have been expecting a minimum of 9 points from our first 5 and hoping for above that if we were going to push for top four. Now we have a maximum of 6. But 48 for halfway if we win all. Last season we had 24. But in the second half we had 37. The latter has to be our target now. That means dropping no more than 11 points including playing against several teams who finished above us last term. Hands up any fan who thinks we can get 37? If we did, though, we are on target for 74 and last year’s second place. It truly is hard to see Arteta doing it now. He went big for his first job and it looks like he has got it wrong.
Most managers learn their trade at lower clubs and then tackle the big ones but there are exceptions. Guardiola, his mentor, was one. He coached the Barcelona B team before landing the big prize of the senior team and he has enjoyed nonstop success since then.
Antonio Conte would be my choice
A top guy flies in?
So could someone do a Tuchel? Come in and transform the results? Antonio Conte, maybe? It is very possible as I believe the players are Champions League quality with the right manager. We have lots of players that cost in excess of 40M. Lots of internationals who have played big tournaments and lots of eye catching youngsters. Probably that youth means a big prize is beyond us this year but next year? Why not?
One possible ray of hope is the League Cup. Depending on the draw, it is very winnable and at least we are still in that and surely can beat Wimbledon to progress? I doubt if anyone believes we are still in the hunt for the Premier League but if we beat all in September, including the Spuds, all will be transformed. It is possible, I suppose.
And puts it right?
So what is my conclusion? We will continue to struggle. Kroenke will bite the bullet and sack Arteta at some point. The right decision? It looks like it at the moment. He doesn’t seem to be able to handle the big names and I suspect that is where our pitch problems lie. Leicester get where they are by the team playing in harmony and for each other, rarely having bad games collectively and without the large transfers that our fans think will solve our problems. I believe that a top manager can take our group of players to Champions league status even without buying. Arteta’s only hope now is to start trading in wins, and keep on trading in them until we are pushing for Champions league. He needs a fairytale, anyone out there believe in them?