Arsenal were garbage?
And so we were rubbish. Chelsea were much better than us for most of the game. I am struggling to remember any recent match when we couldn’t hit a pass so often. And our shots on goal were so pathetic that it must have been embarrassing for the players. Poor Jesus must have wondered what had he got on his feet. And for those criticizing Raya, I am sorry, he certainly wasn’t the worst. He at least made some good saves. Zinchenko, Gabriel and Saliba were poor at most things. Our midfield were overrun and we had scarcely a pot at goal for the whole match, certainly up till we scored.
We seem to have a lot of managers at Arsenal
So were we bad because we had a bad day or did Chelsea simply outplay us, did Pochettino out tactic Arteta and leave us confused as to what our roles were? It is hard to give a definitive answer but I feel that latter explanation was a bigger factor than the former. We looked bewildered by what was happening on the pitch and didn’t seem to know what to do with the ball. My mouth fell open as I watched pass after pass go astray, tackles missed and the ball constantly taken off us. All subs were on the pitch with a fair bit of time left. We could not afford a late injury. Arteta pushed on players to try and make a difference. A bit of luck, absent for most of the match, got the belief back and Chelsea’s fragility from their bad run helped us to get in control late on.
Our good players are bad?
Now, I know what you are saying. Gus, you don’t do post-match analysis, you leave that to the experts at ASCB and that is true but I do want to comment on bad matches that we have and scapegoating players because of it. We have several per year. Leeds away in the first half of last season was one such. We got a win we never deserved. We played poorly. And we got a draw at Chelsea on Saturday we didn’t deserve, even though the penalty was dubious and Sanchez should never have been allowed to get away with smashing Jesus. Given our penalty prowess we probably would have scored and won. The earlier we scored against Chelsea would have affected their self belief and bolstered our confidence. We once again would have played badly and won.
Eboue's life was destroyed by fans
This is one of the strong points of this team. We are starting to get to that champion’s level where we are playing rubbish and get a result.
Honestly, though, it was our usual stars that looked lost, heavy footed, and incapable of rudimentary control of the ball. Odegaard was subbed, Zinchenko was subbed, Saliba, Gabriel, White and even Rice were giving the ball away all the time. The whole team seemed nervous, not just Raya. I will declare now that I prefer Ramsdale as I think he brings a better presence at the back but I always liked Raya at Brentford.
Arteta’s way or the highway?
Arteta seems to like players to follow his instructions and Ramsdale and Tierney seem to have lost out because of that. As my friend Stan won’t give me that job, I have to accept that Mikel's decisions are what matter. We do seem to be moving in the right direction but playing the ball constantly out from the back is a bit of a nightmare for fans to watch. Particularly like on Saturday when we didn’t know how to pass the ball.
Would we accept the level of success he had as a player?
But I do want to say one thing loud and clear. Targeting players never helps. It is bad enough for the opposition supporters to do that without us joining in. If Raya is our goalkeeper then he should be supported, simple as that. Otherwise we weaken our team and surely we don’t want that? I can remember many players over the years getting targeted, Emanuel Eboue being the worst instance I can remember, the poor guy was relentlessly hounded and could never achieve his potential. We should never ever target our own players nor, in truth, players from other teams.
The bully boys in the crowd are wannabe dictators
It is pure bullying. Destroying a player from our position of anonymity in the crowds. Every player is different, with different emotions and reactions. How many players careers have been devastated by abuse from fans? Could you imagine that happening in your workplace? That insiders and outsiders decide you are useless and give you a hard time when you are trying to do your best?
Unai Emery - the miracle worker of Aston Villa
Granit Xhaka survived all that. He went about his playing business relentlessly, taking dog’s abuse all the time, but mostly putting in good shifts. In the end it was “Granit Xhaka we have” ringing out from the fans. I doubt if anyone wanted him to go. But he was blessed with a tough mentality. Not all are capable of taking abuse from your own. I know I would want to get out.
Emery is now having a good evening
We hounded out Unai Emery and made constant fun of him. I suspect if he had been given the latitude Arteta was he could have come very good for us. It is almost miraculous what he has accomplished at Villa. They might even finish above us. He has come back from challenging times at Arsenal and PSG to show he is a warrior. A gentleman one, yes, but still a warrior. He has not managed to fully correct his difficulty with English but he has restored his reputation. Could Arteta survive the fans turning on him like they did with Emery? If we are lucky we will never know.
Will anyone ever win this again?
My point is that it is cowardly to attack the team we say we support. We wouldn’t walk up to them and abuse them, we do it from the safety of the crowd. It never helps and we have seen even top teams drop down heavily. And no-one is safe from that mob mentality that says we should eat our own. Arsene Wenger, our greatest ever, had to endure such tribulations. It wasn’t right then and it is not right now.
What is success for Arsenal fans?
Let’s be realistic about Arteta. The giant teams all around him will want to gobble up all trophies. What is success for Arteta, according to the fans? Winning the league? Never going to be easy. Champions League? Ditto. And if he doesn’t? Picking up an occasional minor trophy and CL qualification? Would that be enough? CL qualification by itself? The problem is that he has set the bar high last season. He has left himself in the position that if he doesn’t better it, he has failed. He has gone backward.
Does Mikel have to win Old Big Ears?
I will say one thing now. I think he is the best option we have. Who do we think out there could do a better job? We need to keep the faith and give him the backing. If Raya is his choice, then we should support that. If this season turns out to be disappointing, then he should be given the chance to do better. He is up against teams that have better resources, both here and in Europe. Being up there challenging is a great achievement. Being up there winning would be stupendous. We must never forget that. C’mon the Arse!