Arteta ‘arrogance’ has cost Arsenal with Havertz and Jesus decisions

Editor F365
Mikel Arteta, Kai Havertz and Gabriel Jesus of Arsenal.
Mikel Arteta, Kai Havertz and Gabriel Jesus of Arsenal.

Calling Arsenal ‘bottlers’ is ludicrous but Mikel Arteta did make mistakes on Sunday. That was not the right line-up.

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This is on Mikel Arteta
I love Arteta, he has brought so much to us, but this is on him. This was a Champions League chasing Aston Villa with a multiple Europa winning coach .. why try to be cute? Havertz is not a midfielder. That has been established, Gabriel Jesus is not ruthless enough as a 9, Declan is not a high level 6.

In this wonderful run, we have played the Havertz as an 8, and Rice as a 6 thrice. Against Palace where we scored 2 set piece goals, a goal on the break and two Martinelli goals from substitute Jorginho’s pass, against Forest and Porto away. In none of those games did we play well. Havertz will always run forward, and Rice reduces our attacking thrust when he plays as a 6, and also our defensive solidity because he is not running around mopping and tackling while Jorginho does the deep lying playmaking, and Odegaard is receiving balls between the lines.

This was wrong.

ESR coming in ahead of Vieira when we needed creativity? Really ESR? This is the EPL, what is with these sentiments?

We have not lost the league, and Arteta has always adapted on the job, learnt on the job. So I have faith that is sentimental rubbish ended yesterday. Zinchenko alright? Kiwior/Tomiyasu should be brought back please. Bailey scored an easy tap in, Zinchenko was suppose to be marking him.
Kufre, Nigeria

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…We were rubbish yesterday and Emery pulled off a tactical masterclass. We bottled it. Arteta’s arrogance might be our downfall, he has Wednesday night to show he has learnt from last season and turn it around before things get ugly.

But I just want everyone to take a moment and realise as you send in your emails to laugh at us, you are celebrating the highly likely 7th Premier League title in 8 years. They have cheated, they won’t get punished for it and we likely won’t have a different winner for a long long time.

Yes I am bitter, yes I genuinely thought this season we could do, yes I am enjoying the ride. But it’s a sad day for football.
Rob A (Havertz in midfield is not it Arteta) AFC

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Is it all over?
So, a team that have won ten, drawn one and lost one of their last twelve matches are going to be labelled bottle jobs when they have also taken four points off both Liverpool and Manchest115er? What I have seen this Season is an Arsenal team built by Arteta that can compete. So, Citeh are home and dry? Not sure about that.

Although Arsenal weren’t that convincing we did enough in the first half to get ahead. That wasn’t a brilliant save by Martinez, it was a woeful miss by Trossard!

However, Villa were outstanding in the second half and played like the home team. I’m not sure why Arteta waited so long before making changes. It was no surprise when they scored!

Liverpool must be subject to the same scrutiny. Well done Palace. Having been brought up in South London after my family moved there they are my second club! I’ve even had the audacity to score at Selhurst Park in front of all my Palace mates in the Croydon Cup Final…happy days. Palace were outstanding too. Who says one if Citeh’s opponents can’t get one over them in the run-in?
Chris, Croydon

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Talk of bottling it is ludicrous
Is the mailbox template already set for the next two days? This morning will be lots of ‘bottled it’s talk in regards to Liverpool and Arsenal, both from rival fans and fans of these teams, undoubtedly a dose from Stewie telling us how wise he was to foresee Arteta being almost brilliant.

This afternoon will be a robust defence from those two teams fans showing how no one expected them to challenge and probably some pointing at Man City’s unanswered 115 charges. The same cycle will probably happen in tomorrow’s mailboxes with a bit of Chelsea thrown in depending on the result tonight. Fans of Villa and Palace marvelling in their superb and deserved wins will get published but won’t generate any reaction and so it turns back to the bottlers.

Fans of Arsenal and Liverpool shouldn’t give up yet, it’s still just 1 City draw from being back on, but the City fixtures were always by far the best and it’s difficult to see them not winning them all. From Arsenal’s point of view it always felt like we needed to win all the final 7 games after we went top, which would have been a record of 17 wins and 1 draw (v City) in the last 18 games. Sadly that is the standard that has been set to win this league.

So with the inevitable backlash against Arsenal and Liverpool today I’d ask ‘neutral’ fans what they want each season assuming their team isn’t going to win or challenge for the league? Do you want City to win it every year because it pipes down the annoying masses of other big 6 fans, or do you want someone to topple City for some competition but then you have to put up with that club’s fans telling you they are the greatest team ever.

I saw a very good simplistic explanation of the 3 teams in the title challenging teams:

Liverpool have great individuals capable of winning a match in a moment but lack the control in matches. Arsenal have the control but lack the individuals. City have both. It certainly felt that way for Arsenal yesterday, no one was able to stand up and rescue the team with a wonder goal against the run of play the sort of moment a Salah or De Bruyne (and now Foden) produce on a pretty regular basis. How often do you see an Arsenal player smash one in the top corner from nothing, or beat 2-3 players on the dribble and score? People forget the Invincibles had games they weren’t great in but they had Henry who killed teams in a moment.

Can you bottle something you were never expected to win and at no point were you ever the favourite to win? Does every loss need to come down to a binary factor of mental weakness, or can you have games where the other team just plays better and wins the game? Of course the whole ‘bottling’ it is derived from rival fans who are after the thing that will put down their rival and wind up their rival fans the most. No one is lining up to say ‘hard lines, you gave it a helluva run, much better than we all expected, but it’s virtually impossible to beat the City machine’

So to preempt the very critical mailbox I would push those critics to the ‘Man in the Arena’ quote. I won’t paraphrase but it’s worth reading for those who delight in the negative.
Rich, AFC

Who are you calling bottlers? Go straight to the comments if you have something to say


16 Conclusions on Arsenal 0 Aston Villa 2
1) As gutting as that result may have been for the rest of the league, bored of the Man City freight train, a league double over Arsenal, with 2 clean sheets is a massive indicator of the job Unai Emery is doing at Villa Park.

Our last loss in London (alliteration ahoy) was Steven Gerrard’s last match in charge vs Fulham. It’s weird to think this was only last season, since which, we have gone from relegation threatened, to qualifying for the Europa Conference League (and getting to the Quarters at least), to being within a handful of games of qualifying for the CL.

2) Prior to the game, most fans (of any persuasion) would have been reluctant to call a win for us (Villa). A porous defence in recent weeks, susceptible to set pieces up against a team strong at the latter and generally free scoring is not a combination that evokes confidence. There is a tendency for Villa fans to lean to the side of pessimism, given years of knowing nothing else, but the recent management is slowly changing that mentality. A record number of PL pointsin a season, all kinds of hoodoos broken and a continual upward curve has been a tonic for the soul of all Villa fans.

3) Speaking of that porous defence, a massive shout out to Diego Carlos. He has been, shall we say, erratic since returning from his injury last season. Sometimes imperious, before launching into an act of unprovoked violence, to being generally a bit shit. However, yesterday he was just majestic. Recoveries. Marshalling. Tackles. Headers. Reading the game impeccably. He had the lot and it was his best performance in a Villa shirt bar none.

4) Some words on Arsenal. The decision to play Jesus and pull Havertz deeper absolutely played into our hands. Jesus is a great player, but is not a striker that brings fear to the opposition, whereas Havertz’s ability to pull the defence apart by dropping deep and disrupting shape would have been a painful watch. The other tactic they utilised, allowing us to play out short to Pau Torres was a weird decision. He is our playmaker, especially in the absence of Luiz, yet was allowed to dictate the play from deep. Maybe there was an expectation that Zaniolo (more on him later) wouldn’t have the absolute beasting of Ben White, but it allowed us to disctate play during the second half and gain the upper hand.

5) That is not to say that Arsenal didn’t have the run of the first half, which they absolutely did. Odegaard’s positional play, ability to pick a pass and metronomic attributes had us at 6s and 7s frequently. Thankfully, the chances he created were not capitalised upon with anywhere near the same quality that created the openings in the first place.

6) While clear-cut chances were at a premium, the game flew by. And when the chances did come, they were in rapid succession. First Ollie Watkins capitalised on a freak bit of fortune when Gabriels clearance cannoned off Zinchenko (is he still Zencheatcode? I lose track of these things) and he fired low and hard across Raya. The spin of a ball is a funny thing. On another day, it spins into the net yet on this occasion, it somehow rolled out for a goalkick on the opposite side of the goal. Yet within a minute, Arsenal, via Trossard, had a XG wet dream of a chance at the other end, which was saved by The Best Keeper In The World

7) Slight deviation, but I’m really looking forward to Stewie’s emoji-laden missive.

(It was here – Ed)

8) The game was very reminiscent of our game vs Spurs last season. Same score, same first half playing within ourselves and aiming for a clean sheet, and a similar second half growth that leads to a dominant win.

9) The key thing that nobody has acknowledged between that Spurs game and this is the sheer number of missing players. While Arsenal had an almost complete squad to select from, Villa were missing – deep breath – Cash, Mings, Kamara, Luiz, Ramsey and Buendia. Every one of those players would have a fair shout to say they would ordinarily start this game. That we have made it to within touching distance of finishing in the top 4 without several of them for the majority of the season is truly remarkable.

10) The player who didn’t start the game, who would have every right to feel aggrieved is Bailey. But no sulking, full buy in to the managers decisions and when called upon, netted the breakthrough goal. And my god was it deserved. By that point, control had been well and truly wrestled from Arsenal, restricting them to playing on the counter. Tielemans had hit the bar AND post with a belter from distance, and it really felt like a goal was inevitable. The Villa fan in me felt an Arsenal goal against the run of play was more likely, but we have covered this already.

11) That a second followed so soon after was the real surprise. An expectation that Arsenal would go all out to find an equaliser seemed certain, but the way they attempted it was the surprise. They pushed forward, almost Tottenhamesque, and somehow left Smith-Rowe as the deepest player against Watkins. The fact he started his run in his own half was almost identical to Isak the day before. The fact both strikers are high on the goalscoring charts is a wonderful sight, and makes a massive change from the usual suspects from the past few year.

12) And what a finish it was. This version of Ollie Watkins is a sight to behold. The discourse about him vs Toney is an interesting one, especially after the most recent international break. Where the conversation seems to get confused is about Watkins skillset. He can do the hold up play of Toney. He just didn’t get the chance to show it vs Brazil (the players selected behind him influenced that) but he can also run in behind, finish of either foot, and is fantastic in the air. It’s a nuanced conversation, but if anything, both should be on the plane, even if Toney is only there for penalties.

13) In the last couple of weeks alone, there have been articles about how Villa have handed the advantage to Tottenham, Man Utd have turned a corner after the Liverpool game(s), Arsenal are in the driving seat for the title, Liverpool are gonna win it all, Burnley are down, Luton are down, Chelsea could make Europe, Newcastle have f**ked the season up royally. Yet, in the space of a handful of games, everything has changed. Maybe the kneejerking is just that and sometimes absolutes in journalism are absolute nonsense.

14) Speaking of which, we are now in a position where if we win our next two games, we could be 9 points clear of Spurs before they next kick a ball. Have they now handed us the advantage? Have they bollocks. There will be many more twists and turns in the last few games, and this is why the games aren’t played on paper.

15) So, advantage Man City in the title race, but 2 points, is just 2 points. A draw and either Liverpool or Arsenal can pull level with them. Same goes for pretty much every spot from 1st to 9th and the bottom 5. Its been a great season and I cant wait for the next few weeks to play out.

16) Ending on a point that is a tad annoying to have to write, but I think its necessary.

Saturday afternoon, 4th play 8th, with 4th getting an absolute pummelling. F365 happily pump out a 16 conclusions piece.

Sunday afternoon, 2nd play 4th with ramification for both the title race and CL qualification and…we get an article about how City have won the title.

I was going to write in a while back, noting that occasionally, Villa win and there isn’t even a news desk article (the most basic, copy and paste job in journalism) but decided against it.

Now I’ve pointed it out, I’m sure many other readers will realise they get a similar short shrift in their coverage.

Cheers for reading (or not?)
Nik UTV (excuse any typos, I may have had a drink or two to celebrate)

PS. I forgot to follow up on Zaniolo. He was brilliant, and a massive confidence player. Alongside Carlos, that was his best performance too.

PPS. Super John McGinn is just that. Super performance.

(It really is just down to timing and personnel whether we do 16 Conclusions. We hope you enjoy the coverage in Winners and Losers instead – Ed)


16 Conclusions on the weekend
1) Can we now talk about the fraud that is Ange Postecoglou? This is a terrible Spurs side that has disguised itself as challenger wannabes all season long and they finally got found out because, like I’ve said before, Big Ange isn’t tactically versed enough to develop and train his team for Plan B, Plan C and the like.

2) Please also stop with the call for Big Ange to take over for Klopp, surely Liverpool can find an actual manager/head coach to replace Klopp.

3) Another game to increase the sell-on value of Alexander Isak. It is a shame that Newcastle will very likely sell him soon to balance their books.

4) Liverpool finally lost a league game they didn’t deserve to win, has karma finally kicked in?

5) Not trying to be disrespectful to the brilliant Palace, but it is also at home at the impenetrable Anfield having fielded a very strong Liverpool side.

6) The Utd game was a gentle wake-up call and Atlanta was screaming in his face. It is amazing how Klopp continued to rely on their luck and fine margins to beat their opponents. Klopp can’t be forgiven for expecting to keep winning games they didn’t deserve to.

7) It’s starting to look like Klopp has run out of ideas and motivation to rouse this lethargic Liverpool side, it’s no wonder he wants out and all their prospective replacement candidates don’t want in.

8) When Klopp leaves, let’s hope (or not) Liverpool doesn’t emulate the post-Fergie Man Utd.

9) City quietly dispatching wee old Luton to climb to the top of the table and plant their FFP arse on the no.1 spot. This iteration of City would take some beating to challenge and topple for the next few seasons.

10) Aston Villa is Arsenal’s bogey team and Unai Emery has Arteta’s number.

11) Arsenal need better cover at both LB and RB. Kiwior and Tomiyasu are decent options but neither are specialists in those positions. One wonders what would have been if Jurrien Timber didn’t suffer his season-ending injury.

12) Zinchenko might offer a lot going forward but he continues to be a liability in defense. If Arsenal are done extracting all the experience and know-how of the WB/CM hybrid role from him, maybe it is time to sell.

13) Arsenal’s best 11 does not feature a fit Gabriel Jesus. If Jesus is playing as the 9, then Havertz must not be in their midfield at the same time. Arteta’s hopes of shoe-horning both Jesus and Havertz in the same team is proving detrimental this season.

14) Arsenal’s next games are against Bayern Munich, Wolves, Chelsea, Tottenham, Bournemouth and Man Utd. Having Arsenal as 3rd favorites for the title has always been just right.

15) The title race has been a treat this season. The race isn’t over but it is and has always been Man City’s to lose. Arsenal are putting up a good fight but have the toughest fixture list. Liverpool have been sleepwalking into (or out of) a title challenge but it is Klopp’s final season so there must be some drama.

16) Let’s talk about bottlejobs. Spurs are the sloppiest bottlejobs for letting top 4 slowly slip away from their grasp, weren’t they considered title challengers in uhh, September? Aston Villa are bottlejobs in the past tense, they were considered for the title pre-December but now only have top 4 and a Europa Conference League to challenge for.

Man City have a busy schedule but also the easiest run-in in the league, they must still be considered the ultimate bottlejobs if they don’t win all their remaining league games and clinch the title, maybe nagging another Champions League title in the process.

Liverpool have been moaning about decisions and fine margins going against them all season despite winning tons of games they didn’t deserve to, shall they be considered the angriest bottlejobs if they win nothing else (1 League Cup) this season?

Arsenal will always be labeled as entitled bottlejobs no matter the circumstances, it is a testament to their growth and progress that the pundits consider them to be underachieving given their journey to become challengers.

Newcastle, Man Utd and Chelsea haven’t bottled anything because they are and have been pants enough all season to not be considered for any cups and titles, Chelsea’s League Cup final doesn’t count, it was always Liverpool’s cup to lose at that point.
Stanley Hudson, Australia (looking forward to seeing the mailbox explode because Arsenal “bottled it”)


Not much for Liverpool to change; they had chances
Well done Palace. Brave performance, and rode their luck, but whatever the stats show they deserved that.

As for LFC, ‘deserved’ seems a little harsh, but they certainly ‘merited’ that result, if not scoreline (as with Atalanta too); ‘Zero’ was an unfair reflection of how the team played, but losing definitely wasn’t.

And just to clarify my last mail, as some LFC took it as a slight. The club are completely incapable of controlling games. That isn’t a criticism of a player; that’s an accurate statement of the team.

I do put slightly more of a weight on this to VVD, as his leadership style is very different to Henderson, Gerrard etc, in trying to ensure the right attitude and aggression on the pitch. Though of course he’s also a good 20 yards behind where those gents plied their trade, which should also be a factor, but the calm presence which makes him invaluable in defence seemingly does not in any way get the team to ‘turn the screw’ and build pressure.

As to why the team can’t control games, as has been already said, but a patched-up defence with kids whose names you couldn’t confidently spell nor faces you’d easily recognise 5 months ago, playing behind a first-choice midfield (of MacAllister, Szobozslai and … ?) that’s had in all likelihood less than 25 games together, shouldn’t really be expected to have set patterns of play well rehearsed nor a 100% coordinated press.

But the Palace goal (which was already coming after just 15 minutes) came after 21 passes. 21 passes that led to the defensive midfielder near the corner flag and an entirely unparked forward stood perfectly still waiting for the ball in the 6 yard box. The counter press which is the foundation for the defence but also the attack, wasn’t there AT ALL.

So in terms of ‘fixing it’ I can’t really see what any coach could do beyond play more games together.

I don’t think much seems to substantially change. There’s been a lot written about the club not apparently being able to break down a low block. But the Guardian and Opta had their xG for the game at 2.87, suggesting they absolutely can break down a low block they just have strikers supremely off form (and with a fair bit of bad luck).

The one-handed save against Diaz (as Onana’s was against Szobozslai at United), and the jutted out knee to foil Darwin, alongside the bar, being bloody infuriating.

Keep on keeping on, and try turning us doubters into believers again. 4:1 and Pens against Atalanta isn’t impossible.
Tom G

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Well done Liverpool; they have no chance v Man City spending
​In a title race from yesteryear, the Liverpool and Arsenal results would have everyone saying how crazy football is and how you just never know what’s happening.

Unfortunately, because one of the teams in the 3 horse race has outspent the other two so drastically over a prolonged period, there is instead an inevitable sinking feeling. Your articles now seem to imply that Arsenal have bottled it and Liverpool really weren’t very good at all to begin with. You’re happy to praise Crystal Palace for turning up once in a season and playing well but critical of Liverpool for not being able to win every single match – something that everyone agrees is necessary to beat Man City.

You don’t feel that Arsenal should be pardoned for having to play the same team for every single match and then lose one eventually. You think this is all our fault – it doesn’t come back to Man City’s greater ability to spend. It doesn’t come back to the fact that they have played fast and loose with FFP and it doesn’t come back to the idea that bigger spending clubs than either Liverpool or Arsenal have completely messed up and shown no ability to challenge at all.

Well go and live in your simple world – Man City clearly represents the most incredible sporting achievement in history – that’s why the world is so in love with them! For the record, I have loved supporting Liverpool this year and I’ve loved how brave they were. With all their players back from injury they’re playing like pre-season right now but they’ve been magnificent this year. Well done lads,
Michael, Ireland


Let’s talk about Crystal Palace
I was told yesterday I wasn’t allowed to enjoy Crystal Palace winning because some children in my (extended) family didn’t like that the victory came at Liverpool’s expense. “Children get upset when Liverpool lose so you’re not allowed to enjoy your football” somehow sums up all of modern football.

*This was a Palace team wearing the scars of a long and difficult season but threatening to come through the other side. They lined up as a back three with only one recognised centre-back, instead asking a defensive midfielder (Jefferson Lerma) and a right-back (Nathaniel Clyne) to fill in. Lerma’s move backwards meant Will Hughes started in midfield, and ahead of them, Michael Olise was able to start for the first time since 30 January.

*Before the game against Manchester City, Oliver Glasner said that if he didn’t think his side had a chance to win the match, he would be better off going sightseeing. From a fan’s perspective this was a welcome development; the top teams have achieved that status because they don’t lose very often, but there are plenty of games when they expose vulnerabilities that could have been exploited with a bit of enterprise. Glasner was less overtly bullish before the trip to Anfield but the same attitude was on show from his team. Palace started brightly and Eberechi Eze forced a save from Alisson in the first minute.

*One of my favourite ever Palace goals came in a 4-3 defeat at Anfield in 2019, when James McArthur and James Tomkins combined with a little courage, patience and grit to take on the Liverpool gegenpress and beat it, before Wilfried Zaha beat James Milner and crossed for Andros Townsend to fire home. Yesterday, on about 14 minutes, the Eagles had the ball on the left wing and cycled through several players, patiently looking for an in-road. Eventually, Olise played a ball through for Tyrick Mitchell, who met it at the byline and crossed through Wataru Endo’s legs to Eze, who slotted it home.

*As happens more times than most people are prepared to admit, Liverpool’s centre-backs played a significant role in the concession of that goal. Both Ibrahima Konate and Virgil van Dijk are watching the ball and never look round to see where any runners might be. Eze judges his positioning very well but he was presented with a big window of opportunity. Atalanta exploited the lack of awareness from the centre-backs to great effect on Thursday, and between the two games, there is now a coherent blueprint for how to play against Liverpool, if there wasn’t already. It’s really something, to watch van Dijk, hailed as the best centre-back in the world (not just by his own fans) and see such an obvious flaw in his game that neither he nor his coaches have been able to address.

*I’m fully aware that on any of several other days, Liverpool would have absolutely battered Crystal Palace, but were thwarted by some excellent last-ditch defending as well as some heroics from Dean Henderson. Palace were also quite lucky Curtis Jones fluffed his lines with a huge chance, but by the same token, they could have made Liverpool’s afternoon more miserable by converting some of their other chances; at various points this season Palace have gone a whole month without five shots on target, which is what they managed here (versus Liverpool’s six).

*One of the hallmarks of Dougie Freedman’s tenure as director of football has been signing star players from the Championship: Eze was the first and Olise has perhaps shone the brightest, but the latest, Adam Wharton, has made an excellent start in South London. He was tremendous against Liverpool all over the pitch. After being thrown in at the deep end against Brighton, he has started every game. Blackburn Rovers fans were understandably sad to lose him but they get a nice rub of being right about how good he is.

*This win puts Glasner’s side eight points clear of the relegation zone (subject to appeals on deductions) with six games left. They face West Ham, Newcastle, Manchester United and Aston Villa, all of whom have aspirations of qualifying for European competition, plus Fulham and Wolves, who are in a similar position to the Eagles but ten points better off. As run ins go it’s fairly decent, as it’ll mean opportunities to continue embedding the new system while not requiring an over-reliance on players returning from injury. Palace aren’t quite on the beach, but their fate is definitely in their own hands now.
Ed Quoththeraven

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