Arsenal face Chelsea at The Emirates today, just a few days after we were royally thumped by Man City. So often in the past we’d be tempted to deflect such a defeat by dismissing the League Cup, or that the manager had played a second string team which is true of course, but the first team has been doing worse.
As far as injuries go, there’s still no return for Partey but Xhaka is available after suspension but Aubameyang is a doubt as is Martinelli.
Chelsea have Ziyech out injured and Chilwell along with James are both doubts. Recently, they have been beaten by both Wolves and Everton although they gave West Ham a 3-0 thumping on Monday night.
Things have to turn around. This is a crucial moment for us in the season and we have to do it this week. I’m really feeling for the players, and obviously for our fans because something is happening every game for different reasons. But we need results.
Mikel Arteta also acknowledged that the first two goals we conceded against City were soft. An understatement I think as I’ve seen Sunday League football teams defend better than Arsenal did on both occasions. Pub teams even. The one thing Mikel Arteta did improve during his first few months as coach was the defending, so much so that for a while, we had the meanest defence in the League. Where has that discipline and organised defending gone? The midfield pairing of Xhaka and Ceballos was kind of working, but now?
Ok, we weren’t scoring bucket loads of goals but nevertheless, we were scoring goals. The opening game of the season, we scored four but now, they are rare. The possession and ’creativity’ stats have improved but there’s no real end product. No urgency in and around the box or in the build up either.
We saw the difference Gabriel Martinelli’s style of football brought to the team, Arsenal need more of that. Mikel Arteta needs more of that if he wants us to stop this awful run.
As I keep saying, he’s has choices and he has options. ESR, Nelson and Balogun are just three of them. AMN is a must for this game I’d have thought because he is one of a handful who’ll give everything on the pitch for his manager. The other three would give us something different, something Frank Lampard won’t be expecting. How often did we on here say that a player like Giroud but with pace would be great? We have him in Balogun who could sign a deal with another club as early as next week if he’s not convinced his chances will come at Arsenal. Nelson might want to jump ship too because he isn’t getting any playing time but to replace him would cost millions. Why waste millions before his quality hasn’t been truly tested in the League. Pepe is proving to be an expensive disaster, William a free one who earns a lot of money for doing very little. Thank goodness they’ll be no Chelsea fans at The Emirates to ridicule that deal.
Arsenal have a handful of players who simply aren’t going to turn things around. I don’t want to go on some kind of witch-hunt but Willian hasn’t got the legs to get up and down the pitch all game and neither has Xhaka, Aubameyang seems as if he’s not interested anymore and Bellerin and Pepe playing on the same side of the pitch is a recipe for disaster as neither can defend particularly well. Pepe plays like he has lead in his boots as his legs just don’t seem to move very quickly. Yet Willian and Pepe are our attacking players, the ones who should in theory be making things happen. If a young Martinelli can put City’s defence under pressure each time he gets the ball why aren’t others others able to do the same? Simple answer, their hearts not in it. Simple solution, from my armchair, don’t play them.
Mikel is right when he says we’re at a crucial time and that we have to turn things around fast but I fear he’s putting his faith in the wrong players to achieve better results. And yes, Arsenal are at a stage where results matter more than performances because results will bring confidence, or at least I hope they will.
If we can get something out of today’s game then it’d be a positive result before heading into a string of fixtures which will either see us drop into the relegation places or begin a climb up the table. Or put some distance between ourselves and the bottom three at least.
It’s Boxing Day and Arsenal need to start fighting. Metaphorically speaking of course.
See you in the comments…