The AKBs Are Back!

Only this time it’s Arteta, not Arsene that knows best

The AKBs Are Back!

The Arsenal manager is adored and defended for current unacceptable results because of past success. Those who dare criticise him are subject to verbal abuse and told to go and support other clubs. Those who defend him, come to be known as AKBs - Arsene Knows Best. In time they were proven wrong, and because the man they adored stayed far longer than he should have, we find ourselves in a very bad position as a club today, having missed out on amazing managers who went elsewhere (Klopp, Guardiola) and with poor recruitment strategy. Those AKBs were proven to be completely wrong yet still won't admit it today. Whilst they are of course entitled to their views, I would suggest that the fact so many of them existed in the fanbase is what enabled the board to avoid sacking Wenger for so long. (In my view he was sacked however you dress it up.)

But there is a new breed of AKBs - Arteta Knows Best. They defend him from criticism by saying we have a poor squad, that we are running more, trying harder, and that he says all the right things. He needs time and investment and no criticism can be said about him until next season because this one is a write-off and he needs half a year to get his ideas into the players and then the summer to change the players to ones who can play his way, etc, etc.

I know I wasn't the only person who was unhappy with his appointment by the club. It showed a lack of long term thinking, it was a sign of not wanting to spend money to buy out an established manager from a contract (which would cost far more,) and it showed that the board don't see us as a big club anymore since we couldn't even find a manager who had some experience at managing before - even Lampard and Ole had managed previously (even if Lampard was just one season at Derby, it's still much more than never having done it). Not every number 2 makes a great number 1 as we've seen over time and had we signed Arteta as a coach I'd have been delighted. However, signing him as a manager showed a lack of foresight and ambition in my view.

There are a number of issues which the new AKBs won't admit, or will try and deflect, but that are serious enough for me and others to say Arteta was a poor appointment.

  1. We have dropped points from winning positions despite having a new manager:
    When you are winning 1-0 at home with less than 10 minutes to go, the worst you should walk away with is a draw, yet we lost 2-1 to Chelsea.
    When you are winning 1-0 at home to Sheffield United, you should not drop points from that position.
  2. Players not trying is a reflection on the players. Unai was not the solution and being able to speak the language of the league you manage in must be a basic requirement in European leagues. So awful were things under Unai that even if Kermit the Frog had been brought in the players would have been trying more. To me that is an indictment of the current players - basic pride in one's work should mean you run regardless of your feelings for the manager. So the AKBs praising Arteta to the sky for getting players to run more are over-inflating a basic fact that would have changed with any new manager.
  3. Results are what matter. The old AKBs would blame everyone and everything but Wenger when we didn't get results. "Oh the ref", "Oh but we dominated possession", "Oh but we were unlucky". Personally, if a team are always unlucky then it means there is a fundamental issue. The new AKBs are the same - I'm sorry but you shouldn't need a VAR penalty decision to go your way to win at home to Sheffield United - no disrespect. Our results in the league under Arteta have been woeful except for one win at home against Man Utd and in that game the second half we were fortunate not to concede and put the game in jeapordy again. In the cup we only scraped by against championship side Leeds at the Emirates.
  4. We won't get top four in the league with a manager like Arteta. Whilst City have been awesome, it has been due to their midfield and attack more than their defence. This year the defence has been so bad it's cost them the title. We needed a coach who could give structure, tactics and improve our defence. Whilst Arteta can do the first two he most certainly can't do the final one. We keep conceding goals and we keep throwing away points.
  5. Play with what you have - it's nice to try new things but if your players can't do them you need to adapt and introduce them gradually. Part of the reason we keep dropping points is due to tiredness. Whilst we need to get fitter, why does Arteta insist on pressing when we are tired and winning? Why not adapt and conserve energy and protect the leads we've gained? His in-game management has been appalling and cost us points.
  6. The myth of Mesut - I'm going to say something no one dare say - Ozil is not a Premier League player. Now I'm not referring to his skill but to his adaptability to the league. He needs to be in a slower league that gives more space and is less aggressive - this is not the Premier League. He goes missing in big games, he can't play away from home and when you turn up once in every three or four games that doesn't justify a starting place. He slows down our attacks and can't run past players due to lack of pace. I don't care what he earns, we all try to get the best contract at work. I care that when he doesn't play we seem to be better and faster as a team. Even the season he got lots of assists, he actually did that from August to December. That same season from January until the end of the year he only produced two assists - something often overlooked. Playing him all the time when he isn't performing more than 25% of the time isn't the sign of a strong manager. I think a front three of Pepe, Auba and Laca when fit makes more sense and with Auba injured I'd play Martinelli. Instead of a player in the number 10 role, I'd play a DM who actually sat behind two central midfielders so they can alternate between going forward to help the attack and dropping back to help the defence. If I offered you a choice of having Ozil or Parlour in your team who would you choose? I'd venture most would say Parlour which shows it's not just skill based but about what you give to the team as a whole.

I'm sure there will be those slating me for saying all the above. But having lived through one period of AKB, I'm worried we're about to live through another and again the club will suffer. I would want Rafa Benitez as our next manager - he has won European trophies with various clubs, he has managed in the Premier League, done wonders at Newcastle, did all he was asked for at Chelsea despite being hated upon his appointment and won the European Cup with Liverpool. He is a tactician and would sort out the defence no problem.

Arteta seems a really nice guy so this isn't easy to write. But I want what is best for my club and that means having a manager with experience at management, who can sort or defence out since that is the basis of any success.

I hope I'm proven completely wrong on all this. I hope we win trophies, finish in the top four and challenge for the league - all with Arteta at the helm. But if we finish outside the top six (as I think we will this year) and we finish outside the top four next year, don't be surprised to hear the new AKBs say "give him more time" whilst insulting those who simply say "he isn't a manager, he's a coach, let's make him number 2 but bring in a proper number 1 such as Rafa Benitez".

(Ed’s note – This piece was written before the Chelsea v Arsenal game but submitted afterwards, so the author added a final paragraph to reflect on that match)
After the game at Chelsea, the AKBs wil say "see how much we're improving and fighting". However, once again the above issues were in play - our passing from the back got us into trouble and led to the first goal and red card. We were much better once Ozil came off because we could play with pace. We got back into the game then conceded again. That means from a possible 18 points in the league since Arteta started (post Everton) we have just seven. Compared to Ancelotti (who was also available, has managed before and won things too) who has 11. We are now 10 points off 4th place and only seven above relegation - worse than when Arteta took over (9 points off 4th place and eight points above relegation).

COYG - I hope I am proven completely wrong on this, but don't let a bit of extra running and trying cloud reality.


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  1. GB_AFC

    Feb 02, 2020, 16:13 #116438

    I wanted to wait until I'd seen a number of comments to my article above, as well as waiting for more games to see if this mythical improvement has taken place. Firstly to those responding with vitrol, comments about going to support another team, or any other such nonsense, you do not need to be responded too - in fact I say thank you for proving one of the points of the article! :-) For those who gave reasoned replies I would say thank you for engaging in dialogue, as fans we are entitled to say how we feel and what we think, and as a diverse fan base we won't always agree but we all want what is best for our club - I just think I've seen enough already (for the reasons I outlined) as to why the blind support for Arteta and excusing of things that shouldn't be excused, has already started and I just think he isn't the answer to our problem as keeps being proven game after game. Like I said in my article - making the players run more and try harder is nice but I do honestly think things were that bad under Unai that any new manager would have got that from the players. However, that isn't the answer - we need structure, tactics, in-game decisions that result is us winning matches, not throwing away points. and once again, today at Burnley we see why (in my view) Arteta isn't up to it. Anyone with a brain wouldn't play ozil away at burnley in the winter - yet he did and once again after a few nice passes in the first 25 minutes, he did nothing the rest of the game and was in fact hauled off (though too late in my view). We now drew against a side we have beaten the last 10 times we have played them including 4 times at their ground - and this was a record from 20 years ago, it's from the recent past (if such an oximoron can be used). There will be those who disagree of course and I respect your right to that view but not to the vitrol and the rise of the new AKBs is reflected in that vitrol. I want our team to do the best we can, and I truly think another manager would have got more from these players. Apart from Benitez, I also mentioned Ancelloti - so now he's got I think 14 points from 21, which is 6 more than then 8 from 21 Arteta has got us. I may be off by 1 point in each case so apologies if I am. The fact is Ancelloti is working with players similar to the ones we have quality wise and he is getting far better results - simply because he is a better manager. So I do hope I am proven wrong and suddenly we do amazingly well and come 6th, or even stop being in a relegation battle (which we mist certainly are in now). Our next 2 games (PL) are home to newcastle and everton - I do not think it's arrogant to expect 6 points from those games. That would make us almost safe and we can look to build for next year, but every time Arteta keeps making decisions - in game or pre-game wit him line ups that cost us points, I truly do not understand those of you trying to defend him and his decisions. Sometimes the manager has to take the blame for poor choices and still maintain a different manager (ancelloti or benitez) would have got more from these players and we'd have more points on the board. Have a great week everyone, enjoy the 2 week break and let's hope we come back with a working system that is based on what we can do, not something that leads to points being dropped almost all the time. No doubt some will try justify today's abject display where we were lucky not to lose (goaline tech working in our favour - nice!) and the manager has to take the blame for poor choice of system, line-up and decisions which contributed to that today. Civil replies would lead to an informed discussion - vitrol as I said just proves the rise of the AKBs. COYG.

  2. gs5wheat

    Jan 28, 2020, 13:27 #116399

    A rubbish article, at least give the guy a chance for Christ sake! Mikel Arteta has been in charge for only a month, and let's not forget that the performances for the last three or more months before he took over, were certainly the worst since at least the 1994-95 season, and quite probably since 1976/77.

  3. markymark

    Jan 24, 2020, 18:17 #116376

    Eriksen is off to Inter.,sad in a way as always like an intelligent player even if a Spud. But why on Earth didn’t Man U offer him big money? They really are Bolloxing things up at UTD

  4. markymark

    Jan 24, 2020, 17:32 #116375

    CG - the greatest Arsenal supporter whoever lived “Jameson” retired I understand to live in his Stately Home (caravan) in Suffolk. I sometimes wonder how He, Colesey OAP, Toad and Baddie are getting along ? Hopefully having communal get together’s in sunny Felixstowe reminiscing over the 6-0, 8-2 Wengo glory days

  5. A Cornish Gooner

    Jan 24, 2020, 17:18 #116374

    For those of you who have plenty of spare time on your hands; I just Googled 'Badarsian'. The fifth result was for an online gooner article 'Monkey gone to heaven' from August 3rd 2015, following our victory against Chelsea in the Community Shield. Reading most of the (140!) comments was like taking a trip down memory lane. All the usual suspects. Sadly? most of them are not posting these days. One of the comments included "Would still love to see another DM and striker but I am not holding my breath" Plus ca change Tony Evans. It's worth a visit to see what we're missing!


    Jan 24, 2020, 15:58 #116373

    After extensive, exhaustive research over the last 24 hours, I am able to confirm ( with a very large pinch of salt) that the anonymous poster was indeed a Badarsian - "son of Badarse" maybe? How nice to see the timescale before serious AFC manager bashing sets in, reducing from c.18 years to a mere 4 weeks! Maybe King Arthur wouldn't have lasted as long if we had been more media savvy in the earlier period of his reign?

  7. itsRonagain2

    Jan 24, 2020, 13:31 #116372

    In fairness to old Baddie, i dont think he ever was a paid up AKB stalwart. He would acknowledge his reservations about AW but didn't really ever go so far as to say he was infallible.He preferred to sit on the fence and stoke the fires of the arguments and sit back and watch them rage while he sucked on a jubbly!

  8. markymark

    Jan 24, 2020, 13:06 #116371

    Bard / CG - you are right it can’t be Bardarse as apart from the lack of Eggs neither is their any mention of Joe Baker or any obscure and now dead Burnley footballer from their 1952 side.

  9. John F

    Jan 24, 2020, 10:20 #116370

    Ron did you mean the formation of Nottingham Forest in 1865 .A small group of their players came to play for Dial Square FC in 1886 and brought along their own red shirts and the rest is history.Dial Square F C is apparently going to be the name of the team Arsenal fans are setting up for next seasons 9th tier league according to the Mirror.

  10. itsRonagain2

    Jan 24, 2020, 9:58 #116369

    CG - ha ha. and the American Civil War mate. Meant 1965 66 etc of course. I hadn't got specs on when posting!

  11. Bard

    Jan 24, 2020, 8:48 #116368

    Marky I had the same thought initially. Could the poster be Baddie reincarnated ? On closer reading and following the posts, it clearly isnt. I think Ron is closer to it. He/she is one of those Johnnycome lately fans who have only known Wenger and top 4. The club and some of the fans need a reality check.

  12. Wengerballs

    Jan 24, 2020, 6:01 #116367

    Thoroughly obnoxious article. Could barely stomach after the childish "Kermit the frog" comment, and saying Ozil isnt fit for the premier league and compares unfavorably to Ray Parlour is contemptible Ozil maligning gone too far.

  13. A Cornish Gooner

    Jan 24, 2020, 0:23 #116366

    Marky. Could be one of Baddie's American cousins.

  14. A Cornish Gooner

    Jan 24, 2020, 0:19 #116365

    Not much going on in 1865 Ron, apart from the birth of Henry Norris.

  15. markymark

    Jan 23, 2020, 21:51 #116364

    This article is a Badarsian ploy to mess with our minds. All that’s missing is groan worthy puns about Eggs. I suspect Wenger Boyz skullduggery!

  16. itsRonagain2

    Jan 23, 2020, 19:58 #116363

    Nut flush and Cyril. Very good comments. This post by the original poster exemplifies a large tranch is Arsenal fans. These last 25 years have created an air of football snobbery amongst so many. Entitlement. They’ve only known football since 1992 a lot of them. Only known success and if not total success , running it close. Some of them need to learn some humility and become better football fans as a result and by definition better Arsenal fans. In this respect there are benefits in the club having steeply declined to mid table. It’s humbling for these types. They might learn some humility and learn there are other clubs who s time is nigh. Demandingvthis and demanding that bla bla bla , not good enough for Arsenal eg etc and all this shit. Some of these chumps ought to be transported back to 1865 / 66 and made to watch us. A good many would bugger off support Chelsea if they had to do that. Learn what bring crap is about and learn also how fans have to wait and get behind the club till better days come around. PRt of me thinks this original post is a wind up to be honest. If it isn’t the poster is one these annoying lumps of lard that I’m alluding to.

  17. nut flush gooner

    Jan 23, 2020, 19:42 #116362

    This is shocking journalism if you can call it that. Arteta has good will of Arsenal fans nothing more, if he doesn't deliver within a few seasons he will be out, end of story. There are no AKBs in the same sense as there was with Wenger, his situation was built on the legacy of his first years in charge. Arteta has nothing to cling onto.

  18. Cyril

    Jan 23, 2020, 18:18 #116361

    It’s a brave article so fair enuff. Broad church etc... You can argue that every single game he’s managed so far could have its difficulties.He’s been dropped straight into it learning very quickly. I just want to stay up this year and have a great day out in May in either cups or both. Sad as it feels to say but the litmus year this year is collecting some good hard earned 3 pointers from sides supposedly inferior. If he does that and we take a cup - we would all settle for that!

  19. GoonerRon

    Jan 23, 2020, 16:53 #116360

    Blimey. It’s far too early to judge Arteta, either way. To these eyes there have been green shoots of improvement (conceding fewer shots/goals, more compact shape, more structured work off the ball) but losing leads is a concern, fitness levels remain below where they need to be. Let’s gets our key players available, bring the players in that fit his style and have a pre-season to bring it together before writing the guy off.

  20. itsRonagain2

    Jan 23, 2020, 16:11 #116359

    Good lad Don. ha ha. I think his employment adviser might dine out though on that mate, unless we can all provide statements to prove gross negligence and dereliction of duty? Should be at least 30000 statements to be had. Makes me smile how poor old Granit Xhaka gets it in the neck and never Mr Ozil. GX has his faults but hes contributed far more than ever MO has in their respective times at the club.

  21. Don Howe

    Jan 23, 2020, 15:51 #116358

    1. Wenger caused the present sh*tshow. 2. Arteta is making them work, shouting at them when it's needed, and playing the young players when they deserve it. 3. I would sack Ozil without notice as I would have done Wenger 10 years ago. Since we have to pay him anyway why on earth play him as well. The morons love him just as they did Wenger. 4. I didn't want Arteta but giving him a chance.

  22. TonyEvans

    Jan 23, 2020, 14:31 #116356

    Very harsh on Arteta - as others have said the guy has to be given a chance. I'll admit he wasn't anywhere near my first choice but he has definitely had a positive effect and given time who knows. The state the club is in now we were hardly going to attract a stellar, proven, manager anyway.

  23. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Jan 23, 2020, 13:52 #116355

    For those too young to have seen the sixties Arsenal - this now is how we were when Billy Wright was sacked and how we were when George Graham joined. I think under Graham we slid into the bottom 3 or 4 before the youngsters finally came together.

  24. Goonhogday

    Jan 23, 2020, 13:45 #116354

    Blimey! I wasn’t expecting to read this!? Yes, Arsenal passed on a great opportunity to recruit an established manager but that’s not where we are nowadays. The club is a mess. To me it’s now about avoiding getting dragged into the lower end of the table relegation area. Not going for Europa league and we’re a million miles off a top 4 finish. I didn’t think Arteta was the solution but in the few matches I’ve witnessed, the team are playing for him and I’ve seen the difference. Give the man a chance before judging him. It’s the owners fault we’re where we are.

  25. itsRonagain2

    Jan 23, 2020, 13:39 #116353

    I dont know anybody who hasn't expressed anything other than a wish to keep an open mind on MA and to give the guy a reasoable chance. Many did feel compromised by his appt but are living with that quite sensibly it seems to me. This post smacks of a fan being 'entitled' and wanting it now. As Bard has succinctly said mate, that boat sailed years ago for Arsenal. The harsh wind blown by a Kroenke regime has blown and been shown in MAs appt and all of the clubs fans have to live with it. After 6 games, the contact of the post while striking a few chords in some respects, is a tad premature and silly in much of the rest.

  26. Pauljames

    Jan 23, 2020, 13:14 #116352

    It’s way to early to judge Arteta either way. It’s true we are drawing too many games, but he has stemmed the flow of shots on our goal which had reached ridiculous levels under Emery and Ljungberg and if it wasn’t for Leno’s howler v Chelsea he’d be unbeaten so far . A year ago Solskjaer won nearly all his first dozen matches , and to say he has tailed off since is a bit of an understatement. Lets wait and see on MA, but my initial impression is positive.

  27. John F

    Jan 23, 2020, 11:38 #116350

    We do have a good core of young players that the club can sell on once they are established so we can fund more overpaid, over the hill players to join our club.It is not all doom and gloom. Our FFP might be about to ease as it is being touted by the metro that Auba has given the green light to a move to Barca.The origin of the story is from Spain, pinch of salt needed.

  28. Exiled in Pt

    Jan 23, 2020, 11:18 #116349

    Crikey , think we all know the problems we have with the owner but bit early to start on Arteta in my opinion. There are signs of change and get used to it mate we are not a top 2 team and have not been for 10 years plus so it is not going to change overnight..

  29. A11M11

    Jan 23, 2020, 11:08 #116348

    The article is very symptomatic of the back and forth arguments being aired on the online forum. When pressed those arguing for both sides will concede that the players in many cases are not of the standard that we require. We are less than capable defensively but "old dogs and new tricks " come to mind . In the centre we have a lot of old dogs that are set in their mistakes and until Bellerin came back against Chelsea they have been flanked by two inexperienced young midfielders playing out of position , we ship goals , surprised ? not me . All of the we need , we need people fail to mention the elephant in the room FFP . can we buy ? I don't know , perhaps an article on our current position might add a bit of clarity but I seem to remember reading that we were constrained by the high wages we have been playing some of our under performers. I think this covers a lot of it . So it's not as straightforward as some might suggest. We are out with the begging bowl trying to pick up someone elses unwanted players , it is pure conjecture whether Rogers , Benitez or the man in the moon could get a better tune out of Arteta's fiddle . From my reading of that article it seems that any relaxation on buying will come after May 31st next . Until then we have to keep calm and carry on .

  30. Bard

    Jan 23, 2020, 10:50 #116347

    A surprising piece. I'm not sure Arteta can be judged on half a dozen games. Your point about another manager is missing the point. Arsenal are such a sh*** show that no decent manager would go near it. I very much doubt that anyone else applied for the job. Even Brendan Roger's didnt fancy it. The club are also broke having spaffed millions on players Wenger/Emery fancied. We're a mid table side and are lucky MA fancies us. You article speaks to the club we were in Wengers early days not now. And yes despite the Chelsea show we are piss poor.

  31. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Jan 23, 2020, 9:57 #116346

    Kev - you should have saved this piece for April 1st