This Work In Progress Can Make For Painful Viewing

Online Editorial – Arsenal defeated in first NLD at Spurs’ new ground

This Work In Progress Can Make For Painful Viewing

It all started so well…

Let’s start with something good that happened yesterday – the print version of The Gooner managed to raise enough subscribers to continue for another season. Our thanks to everyone who committed to get us past the 1,000 mark (although not by much, it has to be said – so we will be working over the coming weeks to raise more, not least because of the loss of matchday sales that is likely to continue for a while). On that note, the new issue has gone to the printers – the final one this season, produced specifically because we have the subscribers who paid over a year ago to receive six issues over the course of the 2019/20 season.

Obviously we won’t be selling copies of the new issue at Arsenal matches as we’ve managed to do since 1987. So if you normally buy one at the game, you can buy one online by the end of tomorrow (Tuesday), pay the normal £5 and get it posted to you for free on Thursday (UK addresses only). Click on this link to buy your copy of the new issue, or if you have PayPal, simply send £5 through our PayPal me link - - please remember to put your name and address in the note with the payment.

Ok, so we can’t avoid the events of yesterday. Let’s look for small mercies, at least Gooners who would have been able to secure tickets for the first North London Derby at the new Spurs ground (unless you count the victorious women’s team) did not have to suffer the sight of a poor Arsenal display in person, and the journey to and from the swamp.

Pepe came in for Saka, which was understandable given that Arteta does not want to overplay the teenager, but there is no question it weakened the team. Pepe is turning into a bit of a Theo Walcott Mk II – high hopes, but only rare flashes of genuine talent.

There were early errors at the back for Arsenal, with David Luiz most culpable. Emi Martinez performed well in goal and but for him the defeat might have been larger. We had early hope with a cracking goal from Alexandre Lacazette, but the joy was short-lived. What can one say about Sead Kolasinac. Arteta plays him in the three at the back presumably because he wants a left footer on that side. Then the Bosnian plays a poor pass back to David Luiz on his wrong foot, putting his colleague in deep, deep trouble. Probably fed up of getting red cards, Luiz became a bystander as Son leveled the scores.
Kolasinac was the main culprit though. He had an easy pass on to Kieran Tierney yet chose to play it back. There is too much possession in Arsenal’s own half under Arteta. It’s no threat to anyone and when mistakes occur, they can be costly. Arsenal might think they are controlling the game, but not one they are going to have much chance of winning if they cannot be more confident in their ability to move the ball forward. The bottom line is that none of the three defenders who played central yesterday are good enough. Mustafi was brushed aside by Harry Kane in a reminder of why he became such a boo boy before he theoretically improved under Arteta. Old habits die hard.

So we had a match in which Arsenal dominated possession (63% v 37%) but Spurs had more goal attempts. This is Mourinho football, a contrast to what the regulars at the Lane are used to, but they’ll settle for it if it means winning derby matches in the short term. Aubameyang should have put Arsenal ahead in the second half, but in fairness, Spurs also hit the woodwork. For all their possession and control of the game, the Gunners were toothless too often. There was some spark, but the conclusion of the match was simply depressing as Arsenal’s vulnerability to set pieces as exposed again.

They had an extra two days to prepare for this match, but the bottom line is that, tactically, Arteta was given a lesson by Mourinho, a manager who is supposed to have shot his bolt.

For all the hopes around the new head coach, there is, with the Manchester City decision at CAS this morning (and no doubt a few of the decision makers there have benefited nicely from that outcome), even Europa League qualification is in the balance now. As one of City, Chelsea or Manchester United will win the FA Cup (it sure isn’t going to be Arsenal who will be dispatched with little resistance in the semi-final), the three places in the Europa League will go to the teams finishing between fifth and seventh in the table. The current top five look nailed on with the only decision there who misses out on Champions League.

The teams from sixth to tenth have two European spots to compete for. Arsenal are ninth, ahead of Burnley on goal difference. If they fail to beat Liverpool on Wednesday evening, they will almost certainly miss out on Europa League, creating a £30 million hole in the budget. Mesut Ozil will be collecting more than half of that for sitting on his arse next year.

Mikel Arteta wants Arsenal playing like a Pep Guardiola side. Sadly, he doesn’t have the players to do it. He may have an element of George Graham’s personality in terms of his ‘non-negotiables’ that have seen Ozil and Guendouzi disappear, but he sure could use some of George’s ability to organize a defence. Because the lack of quality we saw yesterday was deeply worrying.

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  1. itsRonagain2

    Jul 15, 2020, 17:20 #116965

    GR - he has given them some better shape at least, bu coaching isnt going improve a large number of that squad. The promising young players are being compromised by having to play with long in the tooth bang average players. The irony is that MA constantly talks up and actually wants those same weaker players in many case in preference to the bright sparks we do have. There are many question marks v MA. I appreciate of course that hes there to make the best of the hand hes given and there as he knows he can never make demands of the owners. His backroom staff are there whether MA wanted them or not. I can see why he took the job, but must have thought long and hard before he did. Im guessing MA will look to be seen to have made a fist of it, maybe get them eventually to a solid 5th/6th and then move on to better things. To achieve that at Arsenal would be a massive filip for him and look good on his CV

  2. itsRonagain2

    Jul 15, 2020, 17:04 #116964

    Record at the Lane this last decade is dire. It was typical Arsenal and expected. The club is in statis and chaos and will stay there until the owner goes. In the short term, Arsenel will not win matches until they sack off your Mustis and co. They're not going to improve as if by some miracle. The only consolation is that Spurs are as bad.

  3. Bardo

    Jul 14, 2020, 20:21 #116963

    This game to game angst and dreams of Euro football is ridiculous. We are in a dire state on and off the pitch. Arteta seems a decent enough coach although he has no experience and no track record of success. Add in the fact that at least half the team are rubbish: the set up behind him lacks any semblance of coherence ( why are we offering players like Luiz contracts ?). And we have owners who dont give a flying f***. How is that a set up that suggests we are moving in the right direction? The goals we gave away against the spuds would have been poor even on Hackney marshes never mind the prem. I have watched Arsenal since the mid 1950's and this shower of s**** are as bad any I saw before GG.

  4. Paulward

    Jul 14, 2020, 19:43 #116962

    Ron I’m in full agreement, at least you can see what Arteta is trying to do, and of the four games he has actually lost in the league 3 have been down to conceding in the last ten minutes, suggesting a fitness issue which should be his priority. I don’t think the likes of Leicester , Sheff Utd and Wolves are that much better than us to be honest, and establishing us in the top 6 next year is a realistic target .

  5. Stew

    Jul 14, 2020, 15:58 #116961

    Hi - just wanted to say well done to Kevin and the team for succeeding in keeping The Gooner fanzine alive for another year. Well done!! Looking forward to another year of great articles.

  6. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Jul 14, 2020, 13:47 #116960

    CG - if you are from Gillingham then I have lost my argument, you know all about Millwall, anyway we never went south of the river much in those days. However I did watch Millwall on the occasional Saturday with my Millwall supporting mates - they played some decent stuff then, with the likes of Weller, Dunphy, Bollard, King, Posse, Kitchener (Lurch) and of course Harry Cripps. My point is that if you gave managers like Wilder and Dyche some real money to spend they could build a more expansive team, as of course Wenger did,when he inherited George Graham's Arsenal.

  7. GoonerRon

    Jul 14, 2020, 11:02 #116959

    I think we need to be realistic with our expectations. It is widely acknowledged that our squad isn't good enough in most areas of the pitch and Arteta joined us in the thick of the festive fixtures, followed by a global pandemic without any physical contact with the squad for 3 months, followed by two weeks of training and then a glut of fixtures more condensed than ever before. He's barely had any time to properly coach the players on the training ground. There are still lots of things that frustrate me about this team and some aspects of their performances and results, but I really like what I hear from Arteta, and some of things I'm seeing too. I know stats only tell part of the story but to see whether he's actually improved us I've looked at his 17 league games vs the previous 17 league games to see how it compares. Previous 17 - W4 / D8 / L5 / Pts 20 / PPG 1.18 / F23 / A27 / C/Sheets 2. Arteta 17 - W7 / D6 / L4 / Pts 27 / PPG 1.59 / F26 / A15 / C/Sheets 7. I know it's a very low bar I'm comparing him against but he's nearly halved our goals conceded, delivered lots more clean sheets. If you work up his averages across 35 games (i.e. it he had come in at the start of the season with similar results to this point) we'd be 3 points behind Man U and Leicester, 4 behind Chelsea and with 31 goals conceded (the second best defensive record in the league behind Liverpool). Clearly we'd want to be higher up the table and there is still so much room for us to get better but I think it's harsh to say he hasn't improved us considering the external circumstances and the fact our defensive numbers show significant upside.


    Jul 14, 2020, 10:33 #116958

    Hi SKG. I was born in Gillingham, part of the sophisticated Medway Towns, many decades ago. We NEVER talk about that appalling Millwall Club!! Anyway, GG was an elegant player (Stroller) wasn't he & a cultured scottish person. I think Dyche would be a much better fit at Millwall, thank you very much!

  9. Reddragon

    Jul 14, 2020, 10:22 #116957

    Really disappointed with Sundays result as, like Seven Kings, I fancied us to get at least a draw against them, but again snatched defeat from the jaws of perhaps not victory but at least a half decent result. I also have to agree with DonHowe regarding bringing in someone like Keown who can at least coach players on how to do basic defensive duties. Positioning, covering each other and staying on your feet without diving in all the time. Seem to remember Keown coaching our defence during our run to the Champions League Final, (Senderos, Flamini etc.)Then TOF got rid of him. What puzzles me is how does a player like Mustafi get to the level he has reached when he can't defend. He can't read a game, he can't tackle, is always caught flat footed. This is a guy who earns huge amounts of money ffs but can't do the basics. Kolasinac is another. What do scouts or whoever watches these players see that I am not seeing. However I am still fully behind Arteta as despite what a few supporters are saying, we have improved as results against SheffU, Soton, Wolves have proved. Lastly the other thing that annoys me, that is a legacy of Wenger , is the loss of all the great players that we have had and not one in the club coaching players . Seaman, Keown, Bergkamp etc.. (I know Bould , Freddie ? are still there but with what influence). COYG

  10. gs5wheat

    Jul 14, 2020, 9:35 #116956

    One development under Wenger has been our knee jerk reaction as Arsenal fans to a single result. It is true now, that we are always one bad result from a catastrophe at Arsenal. Back in December I remember sitting in the stand for some 30 mins after the home defeat to Brighton, which was probably the worst performance I’ve ever seen at a home match (worse than the 3-1 home defeat to QPR back in 1993/4 season) and wondered where our next point would come from. I actually walked away from that match thinking we may have spent our last of 100 consecutive seasons in the top flight and we could seriously go down. So, to my mind, there has been a lot of improvement since Arteta joined. However, we have to recognise he has inherited a lot of dross, and we have to be realistic with what he can do with these players. It’s going to be a long, hard slog back, with many set backs such as the result on Sunday, but collectively we need to stay supportive of Arteta and his project. I would rather have him and his brand of football in charge for next season than Moaninho any day of the week. Keep the faith!

  11. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Jul 13, 2020, 22:21 #116955

    Sorry CG - ...did you ever see Millwall under Graham?

  12. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Jul 13, 2020, 21:57 #116954

    CG - George Graham was a Dyche type when he came to Arsenal, trust me - did you ever Millwall under Graham?


    Jul 13, 2020, 20:00 #116953

    Yep, difficult to say he has been a big success so far but that one foot is still a damn sight better than the dross that is still stinking the place out after several seasons. If there is major change in the next TW (which I doubt) there should be a place for him AND Saka & none for the long list of the usual suspects. I will feel sympathy for Pepe until more pieces of the Arteta jigsaw are in place & he is still not producing the goods on a regular basis.

  14. arrgee

    Jul 13, 2020, 19:50 #116952

    ‘Pepe, he is at the wrong club because without a proper midfield he NEVER gets a true opportunity to show his undoubted talents" Couldn’t disagree more. A one footed one trick pony. Even his free kick was rank. Saka is a better player by far and cost £70m less. His agent must be laughing all the way to the bank.


    Jul 13, 2020, 19:29 #116951

    Awful game - possession without purpose is always, ultimately, pointless. Holding & Torreira should feel massively upset on missing out - at least they are athletes far better than those preferred by Arteta. As for Pepe, he is at the wrong club because without a proper midfield he NEVER gets a true opportunity to show his undoubted talents. But ultimately today's news about City clearly shows that footie is going to continue as a corrupt & uncontrolled business for the super rich. Stanley is really the one we should be going for as he doesn't seem to realise that "big" clubs don't always stay big & that sometimes you have to but in a bit of effort to even maintain "bigness" - like getting rid of underperforming but overpaid senior executives & backing a promising young manager with some serious investment. The so-called regulatory bodies that are supposed to protect the "integrity" of the game won't give a damn. If a Dyche type comes to AFC my wife will have to put me on suicide watch.

  16. John F

    Jul 13, 2020, 19:24 #116950

    It was a lesson given by Maureen he spotted that Bellerin was advancing up the pitch leaving Mustafi to cover and he exploited the situation.It did lead to a comedy gold moment when Mustafi was doing his six million dollar man impression (the slow motion bit) trying to catch Kane who then went on to score 10/10 in the synchronised diving with Song in the penalty area.The worrying issue is that Arteta thought we dominated the 2nd half and didn't appear to acknowledge that he played right into Maureens hands.It was as if it was the old Maureen v Wenger rivalry being played out again with the predictable play and result.It might of been the screen I was watching on but I would also question some of the players fitness as Lacazette and kolasinac look like they are carrying a few extra pounds.

  17. Paulward

    Jul 13, 2020, 18:34 #116949

    Great news on the Gooner Kev , lets hope the fans are back soon to buy it on match day .Frustrating yesterday because we deserved our lead and gifted a low on confidence Spurs a way back into the game.I disagree with the notion that we need Europa Cup, I think we could benefit from fewer games next term, and Artetas brief is to improve what we already have as it’s clear we won’t be spending much.The win at wolves showed there is something about this squad , but at the minute it is one step forward and two steps back.

  18. Don Howe

    Jul 13, 2020, 18:08 #116948

    It would help our cash position if Arsenal were to dismiss Ozil legitimately, which can be done and force him to sue for his sinecure money. He would have to get a job and mitigate his loss. We might end up with a bill for a non player of £100,000 a week but it would be done and done with and he would be gone.Other strategies include sending him on loan to a mucky gaff team or get two defenders whose sole job in training would be to kick him. Speaking of the defence, I appreciate that tactics nowadays are very complicated, but a coach like Martin Keown could teach basic defensive procedures and impose internal discipline of a physical nature and the history of the club , both of which things the French Fraud erased. The stench of Wenger still hangs round the club like a bad smell and the stables need cleaning, starting with Mr Ozil. Meanwhile, with matters now being arranged to City's satisfaction, Brexit gives us the opportunity to press for two things (1) Team salary wage caps and (2) legislation abolishing Bosman. No more pay days for running down a contract.

  19. arrgee

    Jul 13, 2020, 17:09 #116947

    It’s barely a work in progress, as there is no progress. Looking at the side that started yesterday, only 4 played at the level that would be expected at a top club in the Premier League, one of them is a loanee and the other the reserve keeper. Worse still is that Saka aside in terms of potential game changers there wasn’t anything in reserve, though Cédric was an big improvement on the right over what had gone before. Martinelli and Smith Rowe may come good in next couple of seasons, but at the back, Tierney aside, it needs a total rebuild along the lines of what George Graham did when he signed Bould, Dixon and Winterburn. Arsenal need to concede about 20 goals less a season to get competitive.

  20. Bob Bayliss

    Jul 13, 2020, 15:48 #116946

    Let's get this in context. Arsenal's decline is a direct result of indulging Wenger and allowing him to stay many years after he should have gone. He left us just outside the Champions' League, but light years away from competing for the title. Emery was by no means a success, but in his only full season we finished one point outside the top four, so while we had not improved we had certainly not declined. The start of this season was so poor Emery was summarily dismissed, but despite the spin we have not improved under Arteta: we are as poor as ever defensively, and we seem to be less fit, judging by the number of times we lose games we had led. While Mourinho hasn't pulled up any trees at Spurs, he has got more from the resources he inherited than Arteta was ever likely to. We are still his bunnies. Time to cut our losses and go for a real A-lister.

  21. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Jul 13, 2020, 13:41 #116945

    Great news about "the Gooner " well done to the boys at Gooner Towers, I am really pleased. I generally thought the Spuds were there for the taking yesterday - more so when we went one up to a great goal by Laca, then we just wandered away from the job in hand and let a p*ss poor team beat us. We really are at a point where a George Graham type of manager should come in and drive out the pretenders and posers and fashioned a team in his own image, we do not have the money to buy the players MA needs to play his brand of football, so lets make a Sean Dyche or a Chris Wilder type of manager our next coach and bring some backbone back into Arsenal. This type of manager can bring 3 or 4 defenders in from the lower leagues and get them to play the way they are facing, attack the ball and never concede goals like the winner yesterday. MA may make a good manager one day but not at Arsenal - we just aint got the money to fulful his blueprint for the club.

  22. RobG

    Jul 13, 2020, 13:37 #116944

    First up Kev - Well Done for getting over the 'One Thousand' finishing line, even if it was a last minute job. Hopefully next year will be Covid diminished - if not entirely absent - and it won't be so last minute a rush. I read a stat' yesterday that said Arsenal have not won an away game at any of their big six rivals, in the league, for the best part of five years. That's no wins in some 27 attempts. If you need a single figure to highlight our decline in the last six or seven years, that is it. Right there. It's not Arteta's fault and neither was it Emery's. They inherited this and haven't been able to change it. Until Arteta does, we are a tea pot team - mid table - at best. And mention of Ozil and his antics simply infuriates further and confirms what a task Arteta has. I think either Auba or Lacazette will go in the summer. Possibly both and that might give us some money invest in the defence and midfield. But until the whole mentality is turned - collectively - we are going to see these performances repeat as we have for the best part of ten years now.