In Defence of Arteta

A response to the recent ‘The AKBs Are Back!’ article

In Defence of Arteta

I am writing this as a response to the recent ‘The AKBs Are Back!’ article. I am not backward in coming forward, and I was going to launch a rebuttal so full of invective that it would make the Wiley v Stormzy beef seem like a quarrel in a kindergarten. Then I thought “NO”. Firstly, the editor would not publish it and, rather than get angry, why not rise above the provocation and counter the piece of an author I know nothing about with a reasoned argument.

I actually felt insulted by the opening to the article. Rocky The King was never an AKB. In fact, I suffered from the pain of writing negative blog after negative blog on this page about the group of Gooners affectionately known as AKBs who, in my personal and perhaps unfair opinion, were deluded.

I found myself turning away from all things Arsenal. I refused to write any more blogs knocking this great club because of the attitude and behaviour of Stan Kroenke. I say this as a life member of the Arsenal Supporters Trust. So how dare GB tar us all with the same brush because we believe in Arteta?

I have not defended Arteta from criticism, nor did I defend Unai Emery before him. So, whether you like it or not, GB, we do have a poor squad defensively; this is a valid observation. Like you, no doubt, I have watched the recent games very carefully and I disagree with your choice of Rafa Benitez and your comment about the appointment of Arteta in that “it showed a lack of long-term thinking”. As for “a lack of foresight and ambition”, I shall mention the player Pablo Mari from Flamengo nearer the end. I shall not do a point-by-point rebuttal as it will take too long and give credibility to some of your very unfair observations. It suffices to ask a very simple question: how do Gooners out there in the GoonerSphere feel about their club now? Not about the respective personalities or skill-sets of Arteta and Benitez. Recall the Black Scarf movement? I joined that because I wanted my club back. Well, despite the wretched Stan Kroenke still being at the club, we are, like the Gooner FA Cup chant, “On our way!”.

Arteta’s words alone could have been spoken by every Black Scarf member, every WoB (Wenger out Brigade) and every hardcore Gooner who, like me, turned our backs on the club that we loved because of the pain. How dare you after such a short period of time try to open those wounds that might never heal for many of us? Whatever Arteta accomplishes at the Arsenal, he has in his short tenure of the club restored our pride. The draw against Chelsea with just ten men had me dancing and screaming “YES, YES. We are the pride of London!”. After so many dark and depressing months of Wenger and Emery, it was like being let out of jail as a convict into a brave new world. Don’t take away our joy, don’t steal our dreams, GB, because after the past torment, Gooners deserve a bit of good feeling. Being a Gooner is like being a manic depressive on the tallest rollercoaster in the world. The therapy that we are getting now is long overdue.

I am preparing a blog about Arteta’s style of tactics, the pressing game, the choice of player to lead our attack, his welcoming back of Xhaka. But I need to get this off my chest. We have had two appointments since Emery’s departure. I blogged about our legend Freddie, and why he was not the answer. I measure great clubs by their history and ambition. Arteta has ambition in spades. Arteta has a vision of the club and what it stands for that reminded me of Rocky’s words.

If anyone is to bring the Champions League Trophy to Arsenal, then Arteta will have a better chance than the likes of ponderous and cumbersome Benitez. As for Rafa, by the way, did Newcastle United win any silverware? Not even the FA Cup. As my later blog will point out, there appear to be four Ps that define Arteta from this short experience - Passion, Pride, Pressure and Persistence.

The time to judge Arteta is following a season’s campaign after he has made changes to his playing squad. Which brings me to Pablo Mari, a six foot three inch 26-year-old centre-back from Brazilian club Flamengo, who Manchester City turned their back on after acquiring him in 2016. He went out on loan to the Dutch Eredivisie with NAC Breda and the Spanish Liga 2 side Deportiva de La Coruña. He was a steady defender by all accounts and, if you watch the TotalFootball 10 minute vid on YouTube I am sure that Gooners will like what they see. His interceptions, his ball-heading and long-ball distribution make him, for me, a cross between Paddy Vieira and Mr Arsenal himself, Tony Adams. If this is the calibre of player that we can expect to arrive at our mighty Arsenal under Arteta, then the future will prove you wrong, GB. So, when you state “We won’t get top four in the league” or that “We needed a coach who could give structure, tactics and improve our defence. Whilst Arteta can do the first two he certainly can’t do the final one”, the expected signing of Mari will make your personal criticism of Arteta look silly in games to come.



The campaign to save The Gooner for the 2020/21 season has now been launched. If you wish to see the fanzine continue printing after the end of the current season, details of how to subscribe can be found here. We need to secure 1,000 subscribers by the end of March 29th to continue. 

The current issue of The Gooner (281), including a free 2020 'History of the Arsenal Crest' calendar is on sale now. You can order your copy here (for UK orders) or if you are abroad, order here.


You can follow The Gooner on
or subscribe to our
YouTube channel (where you can find the GoonerFanzineTV weekly podcast)

The January edition of the monthly (original) Gooner podcast can be listened to and downloaded here

Save The Gooner Subscribe to the printed version to help keep us in print for the 2020-21 season Save The Gooner

NEW! Subscribe to our weekly Gooner Fanzine newsletter for all the latest news, views, and videos from the intelligent voice of Arsenal supporters since 1987.

Please note that we will not share your email address with any 3rd parties.

Article Rating

Leave a comment

Sign-in with your Online Gooner forum login to add your comment. If you do not have a login register here.


  1. GB_AFC

    Feb 02, 2020, 16:15 #116439

    I wanted to wait until I'd seen a number of comments to my article (the AKBs are back), as well as waiting for more games to see if this mythical improvement has taken place. I would like to personally thank "rocky the king" for trying to restrain himself and have a civil debate - sadly not all those who share your view are capable of that, but ironically their replies just strengthened my argument that the AKBs are back attacking those who dare criticise the manager, but as I said that doesn't apply to you "rocky the king" and I hope logic and evidence will sway you from your view which i think is misguided. 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. Bard

    Feb 01, 2020, 9:39 #116437

    Exiled as you highlight there is a clear discrepancy between what we produce and the price we charge for it, a midtable side charging top level prices, Its the elephant in the room and its unsustainable. A good number of the fans have only known Arsenal success and they feel entitled to that success. The spin is that MA is going to bring back that those heady days. It is possible but not on the budget he is given. He cant turn water into wine. As the Utd owners are finding fans have short memories and demand success. The fate of the Glazers will make interesting viewing for Stan. If the Glazers are forced to sell up, Stan might be next in the firing line. As I read it the fans are behind MA, if it goes belly up they will give Stan a lot of grief.

  3. Exiled in Pt

    Jan 31, 2020, 22:07 #116436

    Ron & Bard have to laugh, I watched one of those 4 minute videos on you tube showing our Pablo's best bits. I get it now these were Le Frauds scouting tapes looking at Pablo he is good in the air and scores a few from corners, in Arsene's world he would of made a great old center forward in the Stapleton mould!! All joking aside cornish we are as our league position shows a mid table club with mid table owners charging top 2 prices.Sir Henry Noris must turn in his grave wondering why he bothered with all the shenanigans to see that wank yank owner!!


    Jan 31, 2020, 19:23 #116435

    Hope the 2 new guys prove to be smart acquisitions BUT how humiliating to hear Mikel say that he was happy with the additions "with the resources we have". That's nothing to do with pissing money away but says everything about our global image, our lack of ambition brought about, not by Arthur, but our colourless, personality free, disinterested owner. Yes, Stanley, that means you.

  5. A Cornish Gooner

    Jan 31, 2020, 17:41 #116434

    Expect a quote from Wenger in the next few days " I tried to sign Pablo and Cedric when I was manager"

  6. Bard

    Jan 31, 2020, 16:40 #116433

    Exiled and Ron very funny. Reminded me of the days when we obviously needed a keeper or a DM and we kept stockpiling small midfielders. Or the mad buying of Ozil after we had been beaten by Villa. What a costly mistake that has been. Not to sure about the Southampton guy but at least we havent spaffed a fortune on him.

  7. itsRonagain2

    Jan 31, 2020, 15:20 #116432

    Exiled - its a novel idea isnt do that ie filling needed positions. I wonder nobody at the club ever thought of that before? Perhaps theyre both 'wingers' though and nobody's telling us yet! Im sure they can be 'converted' though. We ll have seek counsel from Arsene about that though.

  8. Exiled in Pt

    Jan 31, 2020, 13:16 #116431

    Look forward to seeing what the 2 new defensive signings bring to the team . Makes a nice change to see us signing players in positions where we actually need them .

  9. !No Pasaran!

    Jan 30, 2020, 17:52 #116430

    Honestly! Arteta’s had five minutes in the job, and the nay-sayers and tactical geniuses of the inter-web have him condemned and half way to the gallows already. I bet many of them have never spent hours in the pouring rain watching us struggle against Coventry City, or Carlisle United. In the past. Give the bloke time, stay in the ‘here and now’ and let’s see where we get too. COYG!

  10. markymark

    Jan 30, 2020, 13:15 #116428

    Cyril - beggar my neighbour impoverishes all

  11. markymark

    Jan 30, 2020, 13:15 #116429

    Cyril - beggar my neighbour impoverishes all

  12. Cyril

    Jan 30, 2020, 0:55 #116427

    Can’t wait to find out how much welfare benefits will be adjusted after next week around Europe. Sad, but true!

  13. itsRonagain2

    Jan 29, 2020, 12:06 #116426

    Rocky - i think that AKB article was written by a spuds fan or some thing equally as disgusting as that or at best, a johnnie come lately as Bard says. MA needs no defending after a months work.

  14. markymark

    Jan 29, 2020, 11:38 #116423

    GB’s article had strange timing to it, if I’d have penned it ( I didn’t) I think I’d have urgently contacted to pull it. Emery was very much our Moyes and I see a similar career trajectory. I keep on saying this but I think we have placed ourselves further along the curve than UTD. I’m happy at the moment . Hopefully the unbeaten run will start turning into a run of wins Let’s hope so. Badarse , Jamieson , Tooaw , Colesey , Amos , BBA - where are you now?

  15. Bard

    Jan 29, 2020, 10:31 #116422

    Good article Rocky. I think the debate should be put to bed. We are where we are, a decent mid table side with some good young players and a young coach. The club messed up badly in leaving Wenger in charge for 10 years too long. You cant repair the damage overnight. I have no idea whether MA will be the answer but those Johnny come latelies who have only ever known top 4 are in for a shock.