Now It Gets Tough…

Preview of today’s game at the Emirates v Man City

Now It Gets Tough…

Master and the Apprentice… Could Arteta be returning to Arsenal?

The usual five talking points ahead of this afternoon’s Premier League game at home to Manchester City.

Freddie’s First Big Test
Strange to think that Freddie Ljungberg has had an easy start to life as a head coach when you look at the results (a win, two draws and a defeat). But let’s be frank here. Norwich, Brighton, West Ham and Standard Liege are not the strongest of opposition. At least, in all of these games, the team have responded after going behind, although against Brighton, they contrived to then go behind again. So two ways of looking at this – encouraging that the side’s heads are not dropping, but worrying that they invariably concede first. And conceding goals is going to be a big fear today.

Both Teams To Score
There will be some empathy between Freddie and Pep Guardiola in that both are struggling with defensive absences. Arsenal are without their two best full backs unless Hector Bellerin makes an unexpected recovery, and Rob Holding is unavailable. Manchester City are without their two first choice centre backs – Stones and Laporte, and with Vincent Kompany having departed last summer they are now playing a midfielder there. Last season they conceded 23 goals in the whole campaign. After 16 matches so far this time around, 19 have already gone past them. Still, things could be worse. Arsenal have leaked 24. It’s fair to say that the attacks on display today will be better than the defences, and no doubt odds on both teams to score will be on the low side.

The Arteta Factor
Talking of bookies, the current favourite for the next permanent Gunners’ head coach is former captain Mikel Arteta. Now, the name of the favourite for the job has been changing on a regular basis, and the one thing you have to say about the panel charged with handing the recruitment process is that there have been no leaks. We have to assume they are talking with the prospective candidates, but you just could not say who. Which is of course how it should be. Unai Emery’s appointment came out of nowhere, which will be an unwelcome memory for Arteta, who thought he’d secured the job in 2018. 18 months on, will he still be interested? The club have since declined even further, and there’s not much cash to splash. Still, the argument for Arteta is that he improves players. And my God is there some improvement needed…

An Unwelcome Sequence
Let’s not pretend here folks, Man City are odds on favourites to win this match, and if they score twice, it will be the first time since December 1965 that Arsenal have conceded two or more goals in four successive home games. Many of us won’t be old enough to recall the Billy Wright era – but it has a lot of similarities with today. Arsenal good going forward, but hopeless at the back. Remember the triumph of beating Bournemouth 1-0 in early October? That was the only home clean sheet so far this season. I’d say it was a fond memory, but what I do recall of the match was that it was pretty dire. Still, we’d take terrible football and the same result today, right guys?

Granit Xhaka is Concussed
You know, to drop a bit of rare wisdom in here, there’s a universal law that states you attract what you fear. Remember Granit Xhaka pulling out of a header when West Ham scored last Monday, for feat of getting hurt? He later leaves the field with concussion. It means he has to sit out today’s match under medical regulations, although it’s fair to say with his propensity to give possession away in his own half, there won’t be too many losing sleep over that. However, City will be all too well prepared for the current lunatic vogue in the Arsenal team for playing it out from the back, and we can expect a high press if they are daft enough to try it today. We all know the Gunners’ defensive players are not the best on the ball under pressure, so let’s hope that at the very least, things are mixed up a bit today. Because it they aren’t, Ljungberg’s players have just signed their own suicide note, as far as getting anything from today’s game goes. If City’s forwards get the number of chances lesser teams have enjoyed against Arsenal of late, we could be looking at double figures. Honestly. Southampton lost 9-0 recently. It could happen.

For those watching at home, make sure there’s plenty of room behind the sofa. Because the chances of you needing to hide behind it are extremely high. Sure, City have been on a patchy run - they’ve only won three of their last eight games in all competitions – but if they could choose opposition to play when they need a win, Arsenal would be pretty high up the list, and they’ve taken all the points in their last two visits to the Emirates. Both are memorable – the 3-0 defeat the Thursday after the League Cup Final defeat in 2018 – when hardly anyone turned up, and Unai Emery’s first competitive match in charge of the club in August of the same year – that was 2-0. Let’s not get our hopes up, but hey, football’s full of surprises, right? Right? Ok, probably not today.


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  1. Goonhogday

    Dec 16, 2019, 9:43 #115821

    Deeply disturbing mismanagement from the very top straight to the very bottom of this of this club ... I cannot find the words anymore.

  2. itsRonagain2

    Dec 15, 2019, 22:42 #115820

    SK - Big Sam then mate. He s free and that hapless de motivated shower in what’s become a joke of a club this last 10 years are now at a level that should accommodate somebody of his level and ilk. It is that bad. I suspect many coaches will be avoiding that job not just Ancelloti. Extreme as it may sound , a plummet towards and even into relegation fight is perhaps the best outcome to all this. It may be just the only straw that can break the Kroenke camels back. The trouble is that by definition a relegation spot calls for a fight something that hasn’t been seen in N5 for at least a decade. Forget the messiah type problem solving Coach. No. New man can succeed under that owner particularly given that a basic start point is the dumping of at least 7 olayers from that squad and probably even more.

  3. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Dec 15, 2019, 20:46 #115819

    We play Everton next away, who are now led by Duncan Ferguson. He has a very simple style of management, you do it for me or else! That alone will be enough to see off our work shy team. We need to employ a proper manager this coming week, anyone with PL experience, Benitez or Ancelotti, anyone who can put together a survival plan - I believe it is that serious.

  4. ArsenalMagna

    Dec 15, 2019, 20:42 #115818

    Ancelloti is known to be generally very chilled with his players. Maybe he does well because they respect him, or it's just because he's worked with the best footballers who are independently motivated? At this stage I'd honestly take Arteta just for 6-18 months. He'll be cheap (pay him £1-2m per year) so we can sack him early if need be, then get in Allegri, or just bring in Pochettino now. I wish we had got Mourinho as this team needs to go right back to basics with a fundamental culture change. By the way, Torreira is an appalling DM. If we get a £21m offer for him in Jan, as rumoured, that's double what he's worth and we should grab it!

  5. markymark

    Dec 15, 2019, 19:50 #115817

    This result effectively rules out Freddie though that in itself feels a bit unfair when the senior players are so lackadaisical. New broom needed for the new year. Thinking about Ancelotti I do now wonder whether he would have been the right fit anyway ? He’s a manager who expects intelligence from his players . At the moment they need absolute coaching . To me, it’s now pointing towards Arteta

  6. John F

    Dec 15, 2019, 19:33 #115816

    It was awful to watch and Arsenal are in the worst state that I have seen in 50 years.Apart from a few promising youngsters we are very poor and really do look like a relegation side.A spec mention goes to Ozil for his dismal attitude.He gets knocked over and with the ball in play around him he stands up with the same speed and movement as a Yorkshire man getting up to buy a round.Lacazette turned his back on the ball during the Palace game and the Palace players passed around him.Giroud used to do the same.The complacency amongst the senior players is alarming and has been going on for years at this club and it comes from the top and filters down.Where the team is now is the total sum of all the dismal decision s made since the move from Highbury and the hands off approach by Kronkee.Crap managers employ crap staff and it is the same in any industry and Arsenal are not any different.

  7. mad max

    Dec 15, 2019, 19:02 #115815

    it all stems from the owner and a board void of football knowledge, we need to get Kroenke to sell up to someone with arsenal at heart, these are the worst defensive displays in the 54 years I've been following this once great club. get someone in like Vieira who wouldn't put up with shambolic defending that we see week in week out. the club are slowing drifting in to mid table mediocrity.sad days indeed

  8. RobG

    Dec 15, 2019, 18:45 #115814

    That - was an embarrassing, abject miss-match. They've got to get a Manager/Coach in quick, or we are going to be in a relegation scrap. The lack of self belief was terrible to behold.

  9. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Dec 15, 2019, 18:37 #115813

    I think Citeh will have enjoyed the second half immensely - a proper 45 minute warm down is great preparation for their next game.

  10. Dick Dastardly

    Dec 15, 2019, 12:23 #115812

    If Newcastle can get something against Citeh then we're more than capable.

  11. Pauljames

    Dec 15, 2019, 10:26 #115811

    We just have to hope that city’s relatively indifferent run lately means that they are a little more cautious today, because if they are at full throttle the score line could be anything.Id probably settle for a 2 goal defeat and then look to get something more from the Everton and Bournemouth fixtures.

  12. John F

    Dec 15, 2019, 8:46 #115810

    I think Freddie will send his team out with an inspiring speech ringing in their ears that ends with "keep them down to 10 men".I am going for a more optimistic 3-1 defeat.