What is there to say other than that was awful from Mikel Arteta’s team. Especially the first half. I’ve said it before I know but just because Xhaka at left back worked once, it doesn’t mean it’ll work again and let’s be honest, it didn’t work against Everton, nor did it work last night. With Cedric fit, I don’t understand Arteta’s decision.
For all the pre-match talk about Aubameyang, Lacazette, Tierney and Luiz being fit or ‘training like a beast’ as far as Tierney is concerned, just Odegaard came back into the starting eleven. Luiz and Aubameyang made it as far as the bench. Unlike Balogun.
Sloppy defending pretty much gifted Villarreal their two goals and with zero real threat up front, we looked unlikely to score. Two penalties given by the referee, one chalked off for handball by Pepe in the buildup, the second despatched by the same player to give the club a small lifeline in the tie. I say small because Arsenal have been dreadful at The Emirates this season. Another week though and perhaps Lacazette and Tierney will be fit enough to start. Boy we’ll need them too. If it wasn’t for a couple of really good saves by Leno, Man Utd would be facing Villarreal in the final I’m sure.
We didn’t want to come here and lose but after the way the game developed, you have to take the result. If you have to lose it is probably the best result we could have. Two different halves. We started to be us, in the first half there were so many moments we weren’t.
We started to chase and were not precise with the ball, didn’t have enough control. We didn’t have enough threat or desire to attack the box, in the second half it was completely different. We are very used to that (Bukayo Saka playing well) this season, but it tells us we need to do much more as we cannot always rely on him. Bernd Leno was very good, at 2-0, the chance with Gerard Moreno, he saved us.
I am confident we have a chance to win.
Arsenal’s best football came after Ceballos had been sent off but once Capoue received his marching orders, Unai Emery decided to protect the scoreline he had and that was that.
The fact that Arsenal were beaten by Unai Emery’s team doesn’t bother me at all because sometimes an opposing team is just better but the manner in which we lost it irks. Mikel Arteta played a Europa Cup semifinal without a striker, with our slowest play marking a player renown for his speed and trickery whilst leaving two ‘proper’ fullbacks on the bench along with three strikers in Martinelli, Aubameyang and Nketiah. Then, even though his team were playing badly, he stood on the sidelines and did nothing about it. Yet he had five substitutes to call on.
Could you see a second booking for Ceballos looming large? Yes, me too. What’s the point of bringing Willian and Elneny on with just seconds of the game remaining?
I know it’s easy to be super critical after the game but as these fixtures play out, it’s like we’ve gone back a few years and Arsene Wenger is sitting in the dugout because he always seemed to make changes according to the clock and in my opinion, Mikel Arteta is doing the same. Where is his in game management?
As said the other day, I want Mikel Arteta to succeed but it’s getting harder and harder to believe he will and if he doesn’t, he’ll only really have himself to blame.
See you in the comments.