Arsenal Shoot Themselves In The Foot On South Coast

Online Editorial: Defeat at Brighton reveals defensive indiscipline

Arsenal Shoot Themselves In The Foot On South Coast

Leno gives Neil Maypay his view on the challenge that led to his injury

Oh dear. Arsenal clutch defeat from the jaws of victory. Once again that old chestnut about why you wouldn't trust the Gunners to take your dog for a walk comes to mind. They can’t hold a lead. Ahead in 13 Premier League matches this season, only six have finished in victory. So it was at the Amex yesterday.

They dominated possession and goal attempts, should have scored long before an otherwise anonymous Pepe gave them the lead with three quarters of the game played, and then conspired to present their hosts with their first win in 2020. Graham Potter’s team had been struggling for goals before lockdown but managed two against Arsenal’s defence. The equalizer was particularly damning.

To return to kick off, before it all went wrong, and there were changes from Wednesday’s starting eleven. Lacazette and Pepe joined the attack. With Xhaka injured, Ceballos started, whilst in defence, Rob Holding got the call, with Sead Kolasinac coming in for Kieran Tierney. It was a good enough team to beat a theoretically struggling Brighton. Saka played some of the game in Mesut Ozil’s position (the German being on the bench), although at times switched to the left when Aubameyang drifted into the middle. He didn’t have a bad game when in possession, but had a major role in Brighton’s equalizer.

Following on from the loss of Xhaka and Mari at Manchester City, Bernd Leno joined the injury list after a shove from Neil Maupay. It was a freak accident. Maupay had no need to challenge Leno, but it’s the type of thing we see all the time in Premier League matches. If Lacazette had done it to the Brighton keeper, who had a good match at the other end, we wouldn’t be calling for his head. It was unfortunate, but certain of the Arsenal players – Guendouzi specifically, decided the make a thing of it. There is no comparison between Maupay and Ruud van Nistelroy when it comes to cynicism.

Arsenal did create some very decent chances – Saka hit the bar, and aside from several shots on target, Aubameyang was a whisker offside before his side took the lead in the second half - and eventually the goal came with a sumptuous strike from Pepe. But could the team hold out? After 75 minutes a set piece calamity. Ceballos and Lacazette not quick enough to close down a short corner, although the original sin was Saka’s slowness to move out with the defensive line which would have cut things dead with an offside call. From there on it was pinball in the Gunners’ goalmouth and Lewis Dunk did enough to get the ball over the line in blocking Rob Holding’s attempted clearance.

It got worse with Brighton’s injury time winner, although in fairness it was a well-worked goal. Arsenal should have made the game safe long before Pepe’s goal, but it wasn’t to be. The Seagulls have now done the double over the Gunners this season, which says it all about how far things have fallen at the club.

In the short term, Emiliano Martinez will get a run in goal and it would be harsh to criticize him for either goal yesterday. He made a couple of very decent saves. Elsewhere, Arteta is running out of options. Guendouzi could get a ban for grabbing Maupay by the throat post game. That would bring in either Ainsley Maitland-Niles or Joe Willock to partner Dani Ceballos. It’s not a midfield to strike fear into the hearts of any opposition. It has to be worth a look at Martinelli as part of the attack. He has a good understanding with Saka.

Arteta’s biggest problem seems to be motivating his players to do the unglamorous stuff. There didn’t seem too much intensity yesterday. Could be the lack of crowd, but the results even before the break and the club’s position in the table below lesser spenders including Wolves, Leicester and Sheffield United points to a lack of hunger. I have no idea where things will go from here, but Champions League qualification can probably be forgotten by those who still had any hope before yesterday’s calamity. There is a chance of Europa League football, not least because it is likely one of the top seven sides might win the FA Cup and Manchester City are banned from Europe next season. But with Arsenal’s run in and injury list, I wouldn’t be too confident they can even finish eighth.

These seem like dark days at the moment. The club cannot seem to even secure young talent like Saka for the long-term. It feels like a gradually sinking ship, stuck in the mud and getting more entrenched with every passing year. Arsenal have been in gradual decline ever since they left Highbury. There was a real spark of something in 2008, but the club were undone by a lack of experience, too many old hands let go a little too earlier than they should have been to make way for Arsene’s beloved youths. Arsenal have been trying to recover ever since, but ultimately, there is something missing, a spirit glimpsed all too rarely (think Chelsea away this season). How to get this back as a hallmark of the team? Answers on a postcard to Highbury House.

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24
comments

  1. ArsenalMagna

    Jun 23, 2020, 14:43 #116885

    Ron, we've discussed before that player power, money et al have totally changed the landscape of football, and this new culture really seems to be cementing itself. It's a relatively small pool of players (mainly the squads in the current top 4-5) that are hard-working and consistent. Re Rob M's point that we get basics wrong, well look no further than a bunch of lazy ALREADY MADE millionaires not needing to worry about the highest levels of professionalism! By the way Ron, I know you like cricket and politically incorrect humour - you might like a classic of 20-30 years ago,They Think It's All Over, on Youtube. David Gower was great on that show and watching the awful Gary Lineker get roasted is great!

  2. itsRonagain2

    Jun 23, 2020, 10:40 #116884

    Good to see you lads are all here and kicking! The biggest indictment on AFC is simply that we re all saying the same things about them as were from 2007 and onwards. In my view. literally nothing has changed. Back then we had weal frightened rabbits like Hleb , Wally and Rosicky and now we have the modern day equivalents. I dont need to name them. Its been a characterless club since then and as i see see it, has actually got worse as football has become yet more PC and 'snowflaked'. Arsenal have certainly embraced the modern game ever since leaving Highbury. To their own detriment. We now have a Coach who speaks of defeats being 'emotionally difficult' for the players to cope with. Give me strength! The problems there go far beyond choice of players and recruitment etc.

  3. markymark

    Jun 22, 2020, 15:49 #116883

    Oh dear oh dear it’s Groundhog Day with injury upon injury and no resilience. This group of players are now in danger of killing off their third manager . A forth failure could see a complete tailspin. Arteta needs to rid or he will be next Very disappointing to see the falling away

  4. Rob M

    Jun 22, 2020, 15:01 #116882

    I’m not sure I can accept that this bunch of players are so poor they are beyond coaching. Coaching set pieces should be bread and butter at Elite level and determining positioning part of a rehearsed strategy players could follow in their sleep. I watch a great deal of youth football and I am seeing Arsenal making mistakes you would not see at U14 level. For Ceballos alone to be facing 2 opponents at a short corner (bearing in mind we are 0-1 up away from home) goes back to the most basic of defensive disciplines. Why was it allowed to happen? Maybe the same reason Arsenal go to sleep for 5 seconds after conceding a free kick against Southampton. Maybe the same reason Xhaka sprinted 50 yards to track a winger against Wolves at the Emirates only to drop off at the last second to allow the cross to come in. What are they doing in training? I honestly don’t think they are being coached at all. For Brighton’s winner (10) Mac Allister plays the ball forward then sprints on and no Arsenal player tracks him. It’s as though no Arsenal players sense the danger. Over 90 minutes every team will create chances against this Arsenal but we are contending with a group who gift their opponent several freebies they don’t have to work for. The poisonous lack of concentration, lack of hunger and lack of outright professionalism from certain individuals would suggest to me the psychological profiling element of player recruitment has been overlooked for several years if not longer. The Manager can say what he wants. This lot are soft and brittle. Weak as... Combined with a pedestrian rhythm, conservative sideways passing and no real desire to get in behind the opponent means this Arsenal team are way too easy to play against. As we will no doubt see in the next two games. What must Saka and Martinelli be thinking? It is very possible that this Arsenal team have seen the last points they will accrue this season. Mikel will be staring into the abyss soon enough. I’ve heard it said already that he should be grateful there will be no fans to let him know their thoughts. As for Ozil, Mikel should start him. Not to indulge him but to ruthlessly substitute him in humiliation if the inevitable lack of effort is evident. Every other tactic to motivate the vacuous imposter seems to have failed. Does anyone share the view that selling Iwobi was an error for the sole reason that he could contribute in the number 10 role? And was the natural replacement when Mesut chipped a toe nail. I fear for this team, I really do.

  5. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Jun 22, 2020, 13:37 #116881

    Dany Ings for the Golden Boot - after Thursday night I think he will fancy his chances.

  6. Paulward

    Jun 22, 2020, 13:26 #116880

    We should be open to offers for Auba, Lacazette and Pepe whilst I’d move heaven and earth just to get Ozil out of the club. Any money raised should be spent on a combative midfielder and decent centre half, it looks like a keeper may be needed too if Leno cannot recover before next season. Arteta needs to rethink his plan to turn us into Man City lite, he won’t last very long if he doesn’t.

  7. John F

    Jun 22, 2020, 13:03 #116879

    Fenerbahce the name that comes up in every transfer window regarding Ozil are reported to be trying to raise funds from fans to buy Ozil.IF this is true then perhaps Arsenal fans could chip in a few pennies as well.

  8. GoonerRon

    Jun 22, 2020, 10:49 #116877

    Should have seen the game out and didn’t. Good teams win when they deserve to and dig out results when they don’t play well - we don’t seem to do either with any regularity. Given Wenger, Emery, Ljungberg and now Arteta are struggling to get a tune from the same / similar core group of players, there is either something in the water at Arsenal or the squad is just missing too many vital ingredients to be good enough. I also wonder if there’s a chance the players aren’t putting it in 100% because they’ve been guilt-tripped into a pay cut when no other team has. Until all the bullshit around Auba and Ozil is sorted we can never truly move on. If we started next season with no Europe and every player we want to keep having at least 2 years on their contract it would give us a really clear run at re-establishing ourselves. There’s not a chance in hell that Ozil will leave this summer - I would seriously consider paying up his contract and getting rid - he clearly doesn’t fit into Arteta’s way of playing and if he stays his return is negligible on the pitch anyway.

  9. CORNISH GOONER

    Jun 21, 2020, 20:22 #116876

    Regretfully, I totally agree with Bardo about our Lego Man. He now seems nothing like what we needed but looks OK & does his stuff with the media. Not ruthless or passionate it seems - if nothing else, surely he should have made the team just WORK harder & be tougher to beat? But the biggest joke is our owners - we have no money, billionaires just aren't what they used to be are they? On an optimistic note, I think we are probably safe from relegation!

  10. Bardo

    Jun 21, 2020, 19:23 #116875

    Im still deludedly hopeful that Arteta can turn it around, I like the guy. But you have to ask what qualifications did he have to take on such a job in the first place. Second to Pep isnt what we needed. Being a tactical supremo isnt top of the list for the Arsenal job. We needed a someone with real strength of character, someone not afraid to make really big decisions like sacking Ozil. The attitude of the team stinks and that is down to the manager. I agree with Ebor we need attitude more than we need talent right now. There are some great posts today. If anyone believes this is a blip then they havent been paying attention. Arsenal are in deep s***. The team needs radical surgery.

  11. Ebor Gooner

    Jun 21, 2020, 19:12 #116874

    This season can now be written off. Is it time to pick a side on attitude, rather than aptitude? Get some players on the field who are prepared to battle, and put their bodies on the line for the shirt. At least it would give the fans something to get behind, irrespective of results.

  12. Graham Wilkinson

    Jun 21, 2020, 16:26 #116873

    Dropping out of the elite is easy to do. Getting back into it is much harder. Once you are no longer playing in the CL, top players don't want to come and anyway you don't have the money to pay their wages. When the history books are written, I suspect blowing our chances of CL football in the last few league games of last season will come to be seen as a very pivotal moment. As for this season, we won't go down but we can say goodbye to any sort of European football next season. I think in the remaining games we should be playing the youngsters as much as possible - not just Maitland-Niles or Willock but the next tier such as Medley and Balogun. We've got nothing to lose and we might just unearth an uncut diamond.

  13. Paulward

    Jun 21, 2020, 15:57 #116872

    I quite liked the look of Arteta pre lockdown but the doubts are creeping in now . He is already floundering, and I doubt he realised the scale of the job until our disastrous restart . I’m afraid this season will fizzle out into nothingness, and a poor start next season , coinciding with the return of fans to stadiums will see him battling to save his job by Christmas. Emery got a year and a few months , despite finishing 5th, Mikel may not even last that long .

  14. Bob Bayliss

    Jun 21, 2020, 12:35 #116871

    Arteta epitomised the last decade of decay under Wenger. Lightweight, easy-on-the-eye but ultimately inconsequential as a player. When I pointed out that these attributes did not augur well when he was appointed people quoted George Graham as an example of a poacher-turned-gamekeeper who belied the languid image most of us had of him from his playing days. The comparison was never a valid one. Leaving aside that George had served a much more useful apprenticeship as manager of Millwall than Arteta had as Pep's cone-man, Graham had steel and resolve about him as soon as he arrived in the manager's hot seat. He got rid of the likes of Charlie Nic and Woodcock who were content to cruise on their reputations and inflated wages. Can you imagine the likes of Ozil still stinking the place out under George? To be fair, he also inherited a talented crop of youngsters. Nketia, Maitland-Niles, Nelson and Pillock are not the heirs of Adams, Rocastle, Thomas and Merson. We should cut our losses and bid Adios to Arteta, who is simply not up to the job of transforming our club. Of course the appointment reflects on the lack of ambition of our American owners, and so long as they are at the helm we are unlikely to be in a position to attract someone of the calibre of Klopp or my personal choice, Simeone, who would be tailor-made for the Arsenal tradition.

  15. RobG

    Jun 21, 2020, 11:44 #116870

    I think this season is pretty much a write off. This is not remotely, a CL squad of players. If by some unimaginable fluke we got there, we'd be humiliated by pretty much any side we came up against. I suppose EL football remains possible but if Wolves hammer us - and I reckon they will - you can put that to bed. So the only thing left to gain this season is playing the youngsters like Martinelli and Saka and try to get the latter to sign. We need another clear out at the end of the season and we need some decent recruitment - which as Kev says, we haven't had for the best part of ten years. I feel for Arteta - but I did for Emery too. They have both inherited a team devoid of the right metal and with little or no belief that anything can change that. Next season will be the time to judge Arteta and he really needs some decent luck and some help from those above him at the Club.

  16. Cyril

    Jun 21, 2020, 11:42 #116869

    Good to see some comments. I won’t be renewing next year after 25 years ST. I have been going since early eighties and I have seen some less talented sides but they all tried. Very sad, didn’t even watch the Brighton game. I’m at the stage with Arsenal now where I have got divorced and was feeling bitter, but now I’m feeling angry as I’m being shafted on the financial side(I don’t mean this in a sexist way- it can happen the other way), it’s just my analogy as I have paid upto £1500 per year in the past at this stadium, when my old ticket at Highbury was £400 quid. Really feel sad as could never support another team. I just hope Arteta can somehow get enough decent players who will try and turn this club around and be proud again. Terrible shame !

  17. Don Howe

    Jun 21, 2020, 11:28 #116868

    There is nothing of Old Arsenal left. Not for the first time, we need Martin Keown on the staff. This is obvious. Dennis too and Flamini would not hurt either.

  18. John F

    Jun 21, 2020, 10:59 #116867

    I do not think Arteta helps himself with some of his decisions.Not playing Martinelli and those very odd 87th minute substitutions being two of them.He has inherited the most powder puff talentless midfield that I have seen at the club.In previous poor teams of my era there was always a decent midfielder .Brady in the late 70s and in the early to mid 80s Stewart Robson,Steve Williams unfortunately I can not really say that now although Guendouzi may get better physically with age and is worth preserving with.

  19. Exiled in Pt

    Jun 21, 2020, 10:56 #116866

    We have a minimum of 10 players that need selling problem is will anyone else want them!! So slow to move the ball forward even after going behind with a couple of minutes left! Arteta looked lost to me on the sideline, especially with the fiasco of bringing Tierney on which took about 10 minutes. Hope he can turn it around but he has a major uphill battle and we can't keep blaming Le Fraud for it all!!

  20. arrgee

    Jun 21, 2020, 10:42 #116865

    Eighth and any further progress in the FA cup looks highly unlikely. The current 40 points will keep Arsenal safe, though I suspect the final league position will be the worst since 1976. Arsenal have some very talented young players on their books, but need a galvanising experienced players to help form them into a force to be reckoned with. None of the senior players, except Aubameyang to some degree, fit that bill. As for season ticket renewals, I suspect many will not renew and there won’t be enough to replace them all. Arsenal are charging a lot for their tickets and not producing the results to justify the expenditure.

  21. ArsenalMagna

    Jun 21, 2020, 10:33 #116864

    Agree btw that Arteta's ability might not amount to anything without major investment.

  22. Wardy

    Jun 21, 2020, 10:10 #116863

    It would be easy to criticise but now is the time to be patient with a new inexperienced manager who needs to learn on the job. The squad lacks physicality and a spine ,,,,, and has done for years so turning it around will need the board to back the manager with smart recruitment of the players needed. Liverpool without Van Dyke and Allison are not the same team, in our case, signing an experienced world class centre half/leader and centre midfielder will make a world of difference. However those types of players involve serious money and an ambitious board so I'm worried Arteta won't be given the 'tools' to turn things around.

  23. Bardo

    Jun 21, 2020, 10:04 #116862

    Couldnt agree more Kev. The decline continues apace. One wonders what effect this will have on next seasons ticket sales. Currently we arent in a position to attract decent players. It seems like our best bet is to try to develop our youngsters but if we cant keep a player like Saka then it doesnt bode well for the future. The club are rudderless and sinking. Im not at all convinced that a talented but inexperienced manager like Arteta can stop the rot. Dark days ahead without a doubt.

  24. ArsenalMagna

    Jun 21, 2020, 9:39 #116861

    After seeing the research about football fans having higher cortisol levels due to the stress being a fan causes, I'm considering phasing it out of my life long term. Certainly a different game from when I was a kid in the early 2000s. Obvious problems for Arteta we've said before: has to overturn the rotten Wenger/Kroenke culture and the deadwood that makes up most of the squad. Losses like this are so predictable in the circumstances, it's almost like it's not worth watching us for the next 2-3 years, till Arteta has been able to imprint his vision on the club more.