How Arsenal avoided the apocalypse and came good this season

By Tony Attwood

Three defeats in the opening four league and cup games, followed by nine in league and cup without defeat.  Quite a contrast.  

Given that we have the 10th worst attack in the league and the ninth-worst defence, sitting sixth in the table seems quite a clever ploy – especially given the sort of headlines that bombarded the club, headlines such as

Two big names mentioned as Arsenal told to sack Mikel Arteta (teamtalk)

Arsenal board sent Arteta sack warning (Mirror)

Arsenal need to sack Mikel Arteta if they have Antonio Conte chance (Talksport)

and on and on and on with a regularity and futility that made one question the sanity thousands of commentators.

But Arteta wasn’t sacked, because the board believed in his tactics, techniques and indeed results.   So with over a quarter of the season gone and things looking rather promising it is perhaps not a bad moment to ask how the apocalypse of yet another managerial change was avoided.

1: The directors held their nerve with manager

Not, I think out of a vague belief that things would get better, but rather because the board knew what was there for all of us to see, that the opening games were an oddity, with players off sick and a defence learning a new approach.  The media didn’t see it, which was their failing.

2: Arteta held his nerve with his selected players amidst nonsense stories

He kept the players he wanted and brought in the ones he was after, ignoring the gibberish of such media inventions of (for example) Arsenal signing a goalkeeper who was suspended for drugs offences.  I mean when the media is at that level, and people believe it, there really is no hope that any commentary is going to make sense.

3:  There was no knee jerking after the opening games.

The media was in an astonishing frenzy after the opening three games, despite the obvious explanations of players off sick and a new defence learning a new tactical system.  Arteta and co held their nerve.

4:  Life made easier because media don’t do tactics

It was perhaps easier for Arteta to hold his nerve with the new tactics because the media never once mentioned them, and they worked so brilliantly in the final two-thirds of last season – but that media pressure could have made some buckle.

5: Arteta believed in tackling referees

Wenger’s belief was that he could beat the PGMO by having ever better players.  Arteta goes for better players too, but also has a tactic for beating PGMO in reducing tackling.  As a result, he has cut our yellow cards in half, something Mr Wenger was not able to do.

6: Arteta didn’t worry about what other clubs were doing

This season Manchester United have copied Arsenal’s “no tackles” approach, and it has been a disaster.  They engage in the lowest number of tackles but have the third-highest number of yellow cards, largely because they have not got the nuances of the approach right.  At this rate Man U will end up getting around 100 yellow cards in a season!!!

7: Owners ignore the media

Of course, I am not close to the directors of the club, but I did attend a zoom meeting with Josh Kroenke and half a dozen other fans, and we talked about the direction of the club, when apropos nothing from me, Mr Kroenke said words to the effect that he was really fed up with the media knocking Arsenal all the time, especially when since Christmas Arsenal have been performing as the second-best team in the league.

Much laughter followed from my fellow supporters which shocked Josh until it was pointed out that he had just spelt out word for word the Untold Arsenal line.  But it was good to know that they were aware of the facts and not being influenced by the morons in the media.   Of course, that is how it should be, but until one gets it from the horse’s mouth there can always be doubt. 

8: Owners let the manager get on with it.

One might think that owners do indeed let their manager manage, but I don’t that happens all the time.  Arteta clearly laid out his plans, asked for far more money than any Arsenal manager has ever asked for, and got it.  Talk about backing the manager – this summer’s transfers was a perfect example of that.

9: Arteta knew the lineup he was after and went after it

The manager did get superb results in the last two-thirds of last season, but even so he knew he could get more out of the team, and so was incredibly certain who he was after, and that’s who he got.  Some players were a surprise (I didn’t believe he was going after Ramsdale), but like Wenger before him, he knew exactly who could perform the task he required, and that’s who he got.

10:  Arteta knew we could do something even without the best attack or best defence

So we are back to the fact we still have a negative goal difference.   But let’s end with another thought concerning the league table based on the last six games.  Over those six matches we have the third-best attack in the league and amazingly the second-best defence in the league.

Continue like that and fourth (which is not a trophy as the AAA always told us) is a possibility.

2 Replies to “How Arsenal avoided the apocalypse and came good this season”

  1. now that Man U has lost the plot, we just need to wrestle our way past Westham and then see who else we can knock off. the silence of the AAA lambs is deafening.

  2. Tony

    Glad to hear the Kroenke comment, so thanks for that. I’m enjoying the season. The new recruits have come good, Arteta has a plan and a way he wants to play. Imagine if this young squad get AFC back into Europe. I’m more interested in the League but the revenue would offset the spend. What happened to ‘Arsenal never spend’? which the media crammed down our throats daily until they were the highest spenders. Then not a word.

    I’m enjoying the play and moving up the table. There’s a long way to go and I’m looking forward every match. COYG!

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