Gary Neville, the man who failed in his one and only attempt at managing a football team has really torn into Arsenal, or rather half of the team who failed to impress against Liverpool.
It looked like a group of players who weren’t comfortable, like there was a disconnect between them and the manager. The manager looked like he’d had enough of them. He had that glazed-eye look. It’s instinct, but we’ve been around football for long enough to know when a group of players are disinterested.
The shape under Mikel Arteta has been really good. The back four pushes up to a really good line. They have a compact 30 or 35 meters between them.
He’s not going to be able to implement his plan unless those players from Saturday decide to start playing for them, or he gets rid of them. I doubt the first option because something didn’t feel right. I came away feeling there were real issues with a group of those players.
He was mainly referring to our front players, Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang and Ceballos. Odegaard escaped criticism as he was at least trying. Neville went onto suggest there’s a ‘mini mafia’ against Mikel Arteta which might be a result of Aubameyang being dropped for the Toots game.
If, and it is an if, Neville is right, Mikel Arteta really does have a big problem. A similar kind of problem to the one Unai Emery had around two years ago. Reaching the Europa Cup Final was relatively easy but when it came to big game, the final, a performance reminiscent to that on Saturday night unfolded. Yet only two players from that final in 2019 were in the team which lost to Liverpool. Aubameyang and Lacazette. For Unai Emery, the problems continued into the following season until eventually, he was sacked.
Player power is strong but it’s also dangerous. Footballers shouldn’t be allowed to dictate what goes on at a club in my opinion. The board and manager need to stand together against the trouble makers if there are any, just as they clearly did with other players who appeared to have ‘issues’ with the manager. Mesut Ozil was left out of the squad entirely when his work ethic dropped so I can’t see what the difference is with Aubameyang who just a week ago was running around like a man half his age whilst playing for his country.
Arsenal have to come first, not players egos. Play hard or don’t play, especially when that player is earning mega money each week. If Mikel Arteta has any hope of finishing in a Europa League position in May, or even winning the competition this year, he needs players who’ll give 100% all the time, not just when they feel like it.
I’d rather see an Arsenal team lose or draw with a group of players who want to play for Arsenal, players who at the end of the game have given their everything for the team, their manager and the Arsenal fans. At least they tried which is more than can be said about two three who played on Saturday. Not just Saturday either.
Ceballos won’t be at Arsenal next season I’m sure, so there’s no reason to play him really. Personally, I doubt Aubameyang and Lacazette will be either but out of the two, it’s Lacazette who still puts a shift in. Pepe, well I think he’s trying but just not succeeding very well and for what it’s worth, I don’t think he’ll be at Arsenal either when the new season kicks off.
Gabriel Martinelli should be though, so perhaps now is his time. If him playing means Aubameyang misses out, then I’m all for that.
See you in the comments.