It was fun while it lasted for Arsenal but Mikel Arteta ignored Chris Sutton so Gabriel Jesus only managed one half and their back-up right-back is injured.
‘Fans convinced Champions League draw is ‘FIXED’ after Chelsea and Man City land nightmare opponents’ – The Sun website.
Three people on Twitter might technically qualify as ‘fans’ but good lord, it’s quite the all-encompassing term. And sticking a ‘BREAKING’ tag on it is a wonderful touch.
In the same week Erik ten Hag foolishly ‘ignored Paul Scholes’ advice’, there is yet another example of a witless manager flagrantly disregarding the views of a far more qualified pundit.
The Daily Mirror website fill us in:
‘Mikel Arteta failed to heed Chris Sutton’s warning before Arsenal vs Sporting Lisbon’
How could you, Mikel? The bloke had a 28% win record in 50 games at Lincoln between 2009 and 2010 in the only managerial post of his career. And you didn’t listen to him? Are you a f**king idiot?
That ‘warning’ was, obviously, to do with fielding first-team players in the Europa League when Arsenal are in such a strong Premier League position. Arteta did so against Sporting and saw William Saliba go off with a first-half injury, as well as Takehiro Tomiyasu.
“While I take my hat off to them for going strong in the Europa League, just imagine it is a risk that someone might get injured,” Sutton had said – sorry, ‘warned’ – before the game. And that is definitely a) a factor only Chris Sutton had identified, and b) a danger that the notoriously not-at-all-incredibly-meticulous Arteta had not spent ages weighing up.
Mediawatch is also absolutely certain that Arteta would not have been crucified in some quarters had he named a reserve side for a European knockout tie second leg at home with the scores level.
Insult to injuries
Mark Irwin of The Sun is not about to let a possible Arsenal pile-in opportunity pass him by either. Here he goes…
‘And though Arsenal still have the chance to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to eight points on Sunday, Arteta will still be counting the cost of going so strong in a competition which has never been top of the club’s priorities.
‘For first-half injuries to Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba means they are now facing a defensive dilemma just when they need all hands to the pump.’
That ‘defensive dilemma’ in full: their back-up right-back going off with an injury and their starting centre-half, in the words of the manager, feeling “some discomfort” so coming off as a precaution.
And frankly, picking up those problems just before a game against a managerless team battling relegation, after which we head straight into an international break, is not ‘just when they need all hands to the pump’ at all.
But the bad news does not end there:
‘And with Gabriel Jesus only lasting 45 minutes before being replaced by Leandro Trossard, many fans will be wondering why Arteta took so many risks.’
Jesus ‘only lasting 45 minutes’ was, as Arteta confirmed, “the plan”, considering it was his first start in three months after recovering from an injury which required surgery. If anything, him playing and lasting that long with no issues was a boost.
As for those ‘many fans’ who ‘will be wondering why Arteta took so many risks,’ are they new to the concepts of momentum or trying to win trophies?
As the ever-scoffing Irwin also adds:
‘But even when Manuel Ugarte was shown a second yellow for a shocking challenge on Saka, Arsenal couldn’t take advantage of their numerical superiority to avoid the lottery of a shoot-out.’
How embarrassing that Arsenal ‘couldn’t take advantage of their numerical superiority’ in the three extra-time minutes between Ugarte’s red card and full-time.
‘Southgate agonised over in-form Brentford striker Toney, who under usual circumstances would be a shoo-in’ – Joshua Jones, The Sun.
“He is playing for his club and he hasn’t been on trial yet or any judgement so I don’t know on what basis we wouldn’t pick him” – Gareth Southgate, the apparently agonising England manager.
‘Antonio Conte drops huge hint Man Utd target Harry Kane could quit Tottenham in summer transfer,’ is a striking headline from The Sun website. Even with his own long-term future at Spurs in doubt, surely the manager has done no such thing?
Here is that ‘huge hint’ in full:
“For sure, the club wants to involve Harry Kane for the rest of his career in my opinion. Because when you have this type of player, a world class striker like him, for sure you want him to stay here for the rest of his career. But then you know football, you know football. Sometimes it’s unpredictable but I think it’s not in my task to make a decision. This is a decision for the club and for Harry.”
Bloody hell, Antonio. You might as well pack Kane’s bags yourselves and ship him off to Manchester.
Ian Ladyman might not be alone in thinking that Man Utd need to ‘flatten’ Old Trafford ‘and start again’ by building their new stadium on the same plot as the old one.
But this is remarkable logistical thinking from the Daily Mail‘s football editor, who comes up with an answer to the club subsequently not having a stadium to actually play in for a while:
‘Tottenham played at Wembley while their ground was being built. It was an obvious move. Arsenal once did that, too. For United this is less straightforward. There is nowhere remotely big enough or palatable enough in the north to house them for the two years it would take to build their new house. A ground share with Liverpool, Leeds or City? Simply not going to happen.
‘But sacrifices need to be made to secure the long-term so here is the solution. Play at Wembley. Offer your season-ticket holders a seat at the national stadium and some kind of subsidised travel to get there. Some will take that and some won’t.’
As someone who declares to ‘live in Manchester and know many United supporters,’ he surely knows that most fans won’t accept a couple of seasons of travelling down to London at least every other week, subsidised or otherwise.
Tottenham and Arsenal once did it for very, very obvious reasons. Man Utd won’t for the same ones.