Sunday’s Arsenal defeat hurt badly, but the comments in the post-match interview were just baffling.
Over the last few weeks I have been watching the post-match interviews with Mikel Arteta in the anticipation that he singles a specific player, or the team, out for a shambolic performance. Instead, I’m left shaking my head in disbelief at what’s being said. The interview after Arsenal lost the North London Derby was a new low.
"“The players gave me everything and did everything I asked, all we lacked was a cutting edge.”"
It’s the kind of comment that warrants a talking down of the manager. Was he even watching the same game?
It’s becoming a seriously worrying trend that Arteta is choosing to find such positivity after such substandard displays. Take the defeat against Wolves for example; listening to him insist that us flinging in an abundance of crosses into Wolves’ penalty area – to who? – was some sort of success for the future was painful. Arteta is in deep trouble and he is trying to will a hopeless plan into points.
If you can’t see the problem then you are a part of that problem. How do you expect things to change and improve when you can’t see the wood for the trees?
I understand that Arteta is trying to find some level of positivity in these increasingly dark times, as well as protect his players, but he’s focusing on the wrong elements and cutting the silhouette of a man way out of his depth. Without the experience or the right people around him to stop the decline, can he change anything?
On a weekly basis we are seeing the same setup and the same failing cast members, somehow expecting differing results. You can pretty much guess the starting lineup Arteta will pick in the Premier League three days before the game, as he doesn’t seem willing to take a risk by dropping an out-of-form regular for a younger replacement who is drastically more deserving.
Is this managerial inexperience or Arsene Wenger-esque stubbornness?
Picking the same team each week indicates he isn’t learning in the job. I don’t doubt that Arteta has a plan in place, but he’s trying to implement that blueprint on the wrong mould of players who don’t fit his system. Even more frustratingly is in the Europa League where, despite facing inferior opposition, you can actually see semblance of a fluid gameplan, yet come Sunday it’s back to a disjointed mess.
Due to some of the decisions being made we are right back in banter club territory, a label we have been trying to shift for years. One our rivals are absolutely reveling in. One we, in truth, deserve.
The William Saliba shambles, rushing Thomas Partey back from injury only from him to get injured less than 45 minutes later and why Hector Bellerin isn’t being shown how to throw a ball properly – but still gets in the first team – are just some of the prime examples of poor decision-making. All of which fall back on Arteta.
Once again we are rudderless from top to bottom. The appointment of Arteta, we hoped, would help steer the ship to calmer waters, but sadly, he is his own worst enemy and he is sinking with the rest of the crew.