Is Arteta to blame, or are Arsenal’s coach killers the problem?

Thanks for your Arteta mails and more. Keep them coming to…


It’s the players
I was getting very concerned about Arteta a few weeks ago. Maybe inexperience, maybe over thinking it – but he had let the team lose momentum by sticking to a plan and players that has clearly been rumbled. When you have limited assets but let their worth and performance decline while trying to protect your lesser talents – you are in a bad cycle of decline that a more experienced coach may not fall into.

But now i am just going to have to give him the benefit. Because I just do not know what you do with this bunch. In North American sports you will sometimes hear pundits refer to players as “coach killers.” They are the types that just will not get it done for you as the coach – and the more you play them- the more they let you down. And you are the one that gets fired in the end.

Arsenal have a lot of these players.

It can be mental – they are just weak. They cannot handle the pressure or the spotlight. They want he money – but can’t deal with what comes with it. It can be physical- they can’t or will not go to the lengths needed physically to get you results. And it can be attitude- they just are not capable of the professional pride and application required to do what you have been asked to do by your boss – irrespective of what you think of your boss, the company or the departments strategy.

Arsenal have a long list of all three types of coach killers. They either made them ( in a crèche academy where pressure was removed and not applied) or bought them because they were too Lazy to scout for the intangibles or just dealt with agents that blew smoke up their asses and in their eyes.

Arteta may not be the guy. But I know one thing – and that’s that in the white heat of a 38 premier league season you will go nowhere with coach killers on your team. Not even one. And Arsenal have more coach killers than they do solid pros.

So until they are all gone – which will take at least another year in time and a lot of acknowledgement of mistakes and sunk costs – then judging Arteta is futile and asinine.

Shrugs and wipes away a tear.


No, it’s Arteta
I have written here before bitter about Arteta’s Arsenal. Today I am livid… So he ditched 3 at the back, ditched the play from the back. Played Willock in an attacking midfield role. Nothing against Willock, but creativity isn’t his strongest point.. Especially surrounded by an infuriating William, the most unimaginative midfield duo ever to start an Arsenal game together in recent memory, Xhaka and Ceballos. Asking Willock to be a focal point was a big ask, no wonder man looked lost all day.

At Betis, and in his early Madrid days, Dani Ceballos was a creator, an attacking midfielder. Pepe was a scorer of goals, not much of a winger …but an inside forward kinda player…not a touchline hugger. Aubemeyang was scoring goals pre Arteta, Lacazette was Okay, William was doing okay at Chelsea. Chelsea wonder goal aside, Gabriel Martinelli prior to his injury became more of a hardworker on the flanks and less of an attacking threat. Now it seamed Arteta has systematically drained every attacking instincts from this players. One attacking player misfiring can be excused but more than 6 attacking players misfiring means the problem lies with the technical crew. We create so little it’s painful. This is a club that once had Adebayor who needed 4 clear cut chances…to sometimes score one. Now we create so little…

If Arteta thinks it’s because of Pepe’s stupidity that we drew against Leeds United, then Arsenal future is bleaker than I thought. Fam, we drew against Leeds because we where lucky

Don’t wanna talk about Ozil, that ship has sailed, but still…..
Kufre U S, Port Harcourt, Nigeria


READ MORE: Arteta fumes after Pepe ‘let the team down’

Pepe’s done
That’s it. That really should be Pepe’s last game for Arsenal.

No personality, maturity or intelligence shown from him through. Let’s cut our losses, sell him in January and find someone more efficient and promising that Arteta can work with.

Doesn’t even have to be in the same position!
Gooner, London
(P.S. – he will never have the level of healthy arrogance/confidence Henry, Pires, Vieira had. Even aliadiere was more confident!)


Liverpool never fail to amaze
This Liverpool side. You’d probably call that win a sign of champions if they weren’t already the champions. Perhaps everyone else just thinks it’s all very ominous. Liverpool fans love it.

Trent, VVD, Henderson, Salah. If there any other team in England that could lose players of this quality and still come out and absolutely control a game against Leicester. This Leicester team has been exceptional all season and yet tonight they didn’t even threaten our goal until the game was already over.

Jota was outrageously good tonight. Fabinho was so obscene in defence that you’d almost forget that he’s even better in the centre of the pitch. Keita showed some lovely touches before his traditional season disrupting injury. Alisson made everything look so easy. Milner was the best right back on the pitch and then moved into the centre and produced some wonderful stuff from there too. Is there really any doubt that Robertson is the best left back in England? Increasingly I wonder if there’s a better left back in world football when you factor in his leadership, his attitude and his sheer bloody mindedness.

I don’t know how they do it but against Leicester tonight and also against Arsenal in the league we just held them at arms length. Both teams have some top players and yet were totally nullified by Liverpool. This team is just something else. Despite doing it so many times before I am left amazed and astounded by them once again.
Minty, LFC

READ MORE: 16 Conclusions: Liverpool 3-0 Leicester

…There are times when you just see things as they are, aren’t they?

Liverpool tonight we’re missing some key players but let’s look at that.

They were missing 4 players who would be in a world 11 at the moment: Trent, Virgil, Thiago, Salah as well as their captain and inspiration and also England’s first choice centre back currently.

And they did that to one of their main challengers.

As Lou Reed once said, “Oh baby I’m beginning to see the light”
Dave LFC


…I’ll confess that our right back position looked vulnerable. An older player can’t be that good in every position.

We had so many good performers, Mane, Fabinho, Robinson but once again Milner came in and played so well. No wonder he has a door named after him!!

One last mention for Curtis Jones. He played so well his passing and positional play was well above his age.


…The problem I have with managers like Rodgers and Mourinho is that they cede ground even when they clearly hold an advantage. You look at Klopp and you have to have the utmost respect for the man. Even when his Liverpool was just a mildly top 4 team, he would setup his team to go toe to toe with Guardiola, often lost and got embarrassed a couple of times but just kept plugging and now, Man City can’t even be said to play at the level Liverpool is playing at.
We know what Mourinho is, we know he is ultra defensive, uses negative tactics, and his teams are more dangerous when the opposition has the ball. Why did Rodgers setup his team to play the way they did. They literally let Liverpool walk it to the halfway line with no pressure at all, then setup a flat back 5, that was absolutely getting taken apart due to the amount of time the Liverpool fullbacks got to pick out a pass. There is a saying in basketball, for example if a team is playing the Lakers. “You can beat us, but we are not letting Lebron James beat us”. The tactic being, take out the best opposition offensive outlet, let them use another means to win. I don’t understand how the first defensive tactic against Liverpool isn’t to take out the fullbacks. If the likes of Henderson and Keita are able to create some intricate midfield play to beat you, which is rare, then so be it. Allowing their fullbacks free acreage to get to a position to drop hammerjacks on your defense, that’s simply poor tactics. Very poor tactics from Rodgers. I simply don’t think a Guardiola, Lampard would result to that sort of tactic against an ailing, injury raced team, no matter the team.
Dave (Hopefully is just the hangover from the international break), Somewhere


Everton conclusions
-You’d be a typical bitter blue to have a moan after a win, but given the regression from 1st half to 2nd half, that’s what I’m going to do. It felt very ‘Marco Silva’ to have dominated a half and then cede so much possession, territory and impetus to the opposition. Better teams will make us pay,.

-I could feel it towards the end of the first half when Everton were dictating terms, you felt like we couldn’t afford to drop our intensity. More likely, was that given our form, we couldn’t re-hit our high attacking high points of the second halves versus WBA and BHA… exactly.

-Instead, we played a lethargic second half versus a Fulham side who really gave it a go. My brother pointed out that Fulham didn’t have a shot after it went 2-3 which implies that Everton held off well like our other trips to the capital (1-0 v Spurs; 2-1 v Palace). However, the ease we were playing at 3-1 versus how we finished it will colour such an analysis.

-The second half was truly a shocking return to the Silva days… I’ve wrote in before to say similar but Ancelotti has to realise he does not have a holding midfield of Seedort, Gattuso and Ambrosini. We should have played to Fulham how we did versus Brighton and West Brom, and looked to pile it on, rather than let them come against us.

-Chief amongst this was the lack of substitutions by Ancelotti. He is very passive, but he allowed Fulham to come back into this game. You know you’ve had Richarlison, James, Allan, Mina out in South America, you should adapt accordingly, particularly, when 3-1 up.

-Not with Davies, he was excellent. he played head up football, and emphasised that he should have been on earlier.

-Overall, this is a negative review because of where we were heading into the game and what we showed. Very glad for the 3 points and we move on. Was very good to see Richarlison back; the rest of the South American lads needed a bit of a break after the travel.

-On Fulham; I felt they were awful first 45, but put in a good effort second half to show it’s not completely over this season.

Matt, EFC, London


Crossing the line
The suggestion in the Sunday morning mailbox that a successful penalty should be retaken because the keeper broke the rules and came off his line is one of the daftest I’ve seen you publish…

Why shouldn’t it be retaken if staying on the line is so important, the author asks? Well, probably the advantage rule that is a well established part of professional sport….obviously.

Side note, another comment about VAR and United again, but here’s a spin… both major decisions were unambiguously corrected. The match official granted a penalty on the back of of as clean a tackle as you’ll see in the box. The Keeper for the United pen was clearly off his line. These decisions in United’s favour aren’t showing that the VAR officials are biased in United’s favour, they’re showing that the on pitch officials are biased against them. This means that the big ones you can’t ignore like incorrect penalty decisions get overturned but the far more frequent little decisions, the not quite 50-50s that were fouls or the corners when they should’ve been goal kicks, that imbalance a game and disrupt a team’s rhythm continue to go uncorrected. Is it a systemic and overt bias? I don’t think so (except for Mike Dean, who’s heart belongs to Tranmere and definitely not Liverpool); they’re just really not very good referees.

Finally, let’s reappraise the how well is Solsjaer performing given the amount of money he’s spent question. The answer is, apparently better than Pep “new contract” Guardiola, 7 points off first but with a game in hand and 30 fixtures to go and having had the opening of the season severely hampered by not having a pre-season. People need calm down to view these things in context.
Andy (MUFC)


…Can we just put an end to the stuttered run ups should not be allowed if the keeper isn’t allowed to come off his line nonsense? What next, not being allowed to give the keeper the eyes? No shimmies in open play? No clever freekick routines? First you want to cheat and deny the attacking team a goalscoring opportunity, then you want the attackers to be prevented from tricking the keeper?

The keeper can move ON his line as well as much as he wants. We have seen that plenty of times. It’s the coming off the line that reduces the attacker’s angle that is the problem.

If keepers want to stand 2 yards off their line, then attackers should be allowed to keep the ball 2 yards further behind the penalty spot thereby giving them the same angle as before.

Also, the keepers can use every body part to stop a penalty but the attackers can only use one foot. The keeper can get a meek hand to the ball and then stop it a second time, or the defence can clear it, before the attacker can rekick it. Can the attacking team get to kick it again before the defending team gets to clear it? So I would like to propose that the keepers be allowed to use only one foot to save the kick and defending team be disallowed from trying to clear the ball until the attacking team has had a chance to kick it a second time. Remember the kick was AWARDED to the attacking team as a result of an illegal indiscretion by the defending team.
Manyooligan SOC


The table doesn’t lie
It’s been a crazy few weeks at work, so I took my eye off the proverbial ball, what with the international break and all that. Anyway, I expected to see Ole ‘not even good enough for the Championship’ Solskjaer’s team languishing at the bottom of the table. Imagine my surprise then when I checked in this weekend to see that Saint Pep, having spent another £120m on his first team is actually 2 places below Solskjaer. And this with a team clearly good enough to finish second last year. What is this sorcery? And how is it that City have conceded just 3 goals less than United having spent a £100m on 2 new centre backs? Doesn’t Solskjaer have the proprietary rights to ‘can’t make expensive players work’?

And it didn’t end there, my weekend of surprises. Who was this I saw even below Pep? Why, it was Mikel ‘going in the right direction’ Arteta. The man who has given Arsenal an identity and a style of play. Yet, this infernal table has him even below City, with an average to poor defensive record like that of both Manchester Clubs, and barely scoring more than a goal a game? Have we replaced the league table with some kind of fake news version? Even after the Leeds game this evening Arteta is trailing Solskjaer, with an extra game played. Oh and how’s the 70 million forward turning out? And Auba? How is Arteta improving one of the candidates for the golden boot last year?

I’m sure there’s a logical explanation to this. No doubt lots of people will write in to explain this. There were a lot of people last year who were part of the “check’s table” brigade who were happy to point out that Man United were in (checks table) 6th place, right up to the point when they weren’t any more. What does it all mean?
Ved Sen (MUFC)


Poor man’s Pogba
Please tell Dave that dictating to us that Bruno is similar to Pogba is like saying Trump is similar to Mother Theresa!!

Bruno cares and tries to win;
Bruno scores;
Bruno runs;
Bruno goes on international duty and remains professional;
Bruno wants to sweat to win;
I could go on all day but…..

Dave, stay off the beer lad!
Gary B (good weekend, clubs accustomed without fans now)

READ MORE: How dour would Man Utd be without Bruno Fernandes?

…Now that Bruno Fernandes is a seasoned premier league veteran with some 22 league appearances I feel it’s time that we revaluated his abilities. In every game I’ve seen him play for united he has contributed exactly the same performance, which makes it nice and easy to judge his output.

Let’s sum up his good points:

* By hook or mostly by crook wins a lot of penalties
* 50% of said penalties are practically unsaveable

Now the negative points (generally overlooked by united loving pundits and journalists):

* 50% of his penalties are weaker than Gary Neville’s facial hair
* Plays loads of cross field passes, all overhit and go out for a throw in
* Looks exactly the same as Mr Bean
* Every through ball he plays is too long and goes out for a goal kick
* Has loads of wasteful long shots, all of which take exactly one bounce and go straight to the goalkeeper
* Tries ‘clever’ quick free kicks that gives the ball straight to the opposition

For some reason the media seem to think he’s the second coming of Christ, whereas I’m wondering how he made it as a footballer. Surely milkman, bingo caller or Mr Bean lookalike would result in better workplace performance, yet somehow he’s lucked out and fallen into full time sport.

Does anyone else look at a footballer and wonder why they aren’t delivering newspapers for a living?
Trevor, Kent


Saint Marcus
Dara O’Reilly, I can only apologise as a Protestant for my ignorance of Catholicism. I can still stick with my Nobel peace prize recommendation (Obama received it for literally just existing) and hope that Marcus dies quite soon from Covid 19 or something and can thus be sanctified within your church.
Dean WWFC (The sh*t are getting relegated)


What’s in a name?
Mike, Leeds raises a great point about the laziness of commentators to pronounce names correctly. Some are better than others and it’s often the co-commentators who are the real culprits. However the ones that drive me crazy are 1) The refusal of all English commentators to pronounce the name Davies correctly. As if pronouncing it Davis will eradicate one of the most common Welsh names entirely! 2) Aussie Tim pronounced Cahill in some strange way hence forth all Irish players with that surname had to follow his guidance. Even though the name had been pronounced for decades correctly before Tim cane along.
Phil, Dublin (long time reader, first time poster)

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