It was a painful, yet all too predictable North London Derby for Arsenal.
Arsenal played right into Jose Mourinho and Tottenham’s hands. Anyone who has watched Spurs this season knew what their gameplan would be for Sunday’s match; perhaps someone should have relayed that information to Mikel Arteta and Arsenal.
The strategy was simple yet executed to perfection: let us have the ball, soak up the pressure, and wait for a turnover. Then, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min can pounce in transition, as they have done so all year.
It was vintage Mourinho, showcasing precisely how he has beaten us time and time again for the better part of 15 years. Yet according to Arteta on the official Arsenal website, his players were accurately following his orders:
"“They did everything I asked them to do. If you look at all the stats, they are in our favour. But at the end of the ball it’s about putting the ball in the net.”"
Maybe he’s trying to protect his players after a derby defeat, but if these comments are to be believed, that’s even more worrisome. How can that have been the gameplan against that team? Arsenal were shockingly naive in their approach against this red-hot Spurs team, who dismantled Manchester City in very similar fashion just a couple weeks ago.
I’m not entirely sure which stats were ‘in our favour’. Arsenal had 70% possession yet produced just two attempts on target. Spurs looked as comfortable as ever as we fired 44 crosses into the box with nothing to show for it. None of our forwards are known for their aerial ability, yet that seems to be our entire attacking approach at the moment. Could we persuade Peter Crouch to come out of retirement?
It’s now six defeats in the last nine Premier League matches for Arsenal. Our captain and highest paid player is currently lost, and no one in this team seems capable of finding him. Arteta has continued to back players who consistently underperform – Willian and Granit Xhaka – over younger prospects who have at least shown promise in their limited opportunities – Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock.
Make no mistake about it: Arsenal are in a crisis, and if he’s not careful, our manager risks facing the same fate as his predecessor.
It’s one thing to say that we need more signings, but it is undeniable that the current squad are not playing to their full potential. Arteta must find a way to turn our results around quickly in order to buy himself more time and reclaim some credibility.