Saturday, February 24, 2024

Bellerin accentuates the positives despite more disappointment

Hector Bellerin says Arsenal need to take the positives from yesterday’s 0-0 draw with Leeds even though more dropped points means we’ve lost further ground in our quest to finish in the top four.

Desperate to bounce back from the 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa and with one eye on closing the widening gap on league leaders Sp*rs, the Gunners arrived in the North West under pressure to secure a win.

As it turned out, we were lucky to snatch a draw after clinging on for a clean sheet despite Nicolas Pepe’s straight red card six minutes into the second half.

“I have to say I have loads of mixed feelings about the game,” Bellerin told

“As a football player, the sentence ‘being happy with a draw’ doesn’t really resonate with me. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are or if you’re down to 10 men, I’m someone that always wants to win especially when we were able to in some situations.

“I think the game, at the end, was defined by small margins. They hit the post a couple of times, we had a few free-kicks and corners towards the end that we didn’t make use of. In these kinds of games, those are the chances that you need to take.

“At the end of the day, we looked solid at the back and we demonstrated that playing with 10 men and even against a team like Leeds, who are a team that don’t get tired and go at you for the 95 minutes of the game. We still managed to keep them at bay and we need to take those positives.

“As a football player, I feel like even with 10 men I still want to win. I don’t want to approach the game with a mindset that we’re down to 10 men so now we have an excuse not to win this game.”

In the closing stages of the game, Bellerin created our best chance of the game, threading a fine pass to Bukayo Saka who couldn’t beat keeper Illan Meslier. Had the England international found the net, the players would have been well-placed to secure a famous backs-against-the-wall win. Instead, the narrative is very much focused on our current inability to create and take chances with more regularity.

Bellerin is philosophical about the knife-edge on which Arsenal currently exist.

“A lot of people don’t want to talk about luck but sometimes it comes down to these things. It comes down to training, it comes down to practice, it comes down to being inspired and making the right decision in the game,” he said.

“Football is not black and white, there are so many things that happen in that football pitch, so many things that condition the way you play and the decisions you make.

“Sometimes we made the right decisions, sometimes we don’t. I think that’s why football is so beautiful and so unpredictable at the same time. If every time there was a striker that was one-on-one against a keeper and scored, it would be boring.

“It’s just about keeping working the way that we are. We have the right culture at the club and the right approach now, and I think we just need to keep the results coming, build our confidence, believe in what the manager wants from us.”

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Good lad is Hector. One of our own.

SB Still

He certainly was one of the better players. Could see shades of the pre-injury Bellerin yesterday.


Utterly reasonable response to the game.


The basic problem remains: you can still win games if you concede, but you can’t win games if you don’t score. Unless or until we find some way of getting the ball into the opposition’s net regularly we’re not going anywhere.

If there is an Arteta “master plan” that some Gooners think, then whatever it’s doing for the defence – and that’s not very much so far despite yesterday’s result – it’s doing diddly squat for our anaemic attack (two shots on target in 90 mins against Leeds).


All very obvious, and all things Arteta has acknowledged, accepted responsibility for, and is determined to resolve. I understand that people are impatient and they no longer trust Arteta as they did a few weeks ago, and I certainly understand that we, somewhat ironically, are desperate to see a return of the kind of football we played under Arsene Wenger, but it is going to take time for these things to take root and grow. We had two shots on target, and had we scored one or either we would have won the match. They were excellent chances, too; a… Read more »


While rebuilding Arsenal is a process & we need to acknowledge Arteta is growing through his own growing pains, the real concern is these have been issues for quite awhile now that don’t seem to be resolving. We have struggled against “smaller” teams for much of Arteta’s tenure- the real improvement has come against the top 6 sides where we largely have been able to just counter attack. The issue even with that has it required crazy conversion ratios – we took 4 shots against Chelsea for instance and scored 2 goals. The growing concern really has to be if… Read more »


Arteta hasn’t even hit his one-year anniversary in charge; people acknowledge he needs time, but then lament that things are not changing quickly enough. I understand that, but I have to counter it. He has changed so much at Arsenal in the past 11 months, and he delivered a trophy in the process. We used to dominate the smaller teams and get hammered by the big ones. Now everything is competitive. Our offensive output is not good enough, and thus neither are the results – Arteta knows this, and is working on it. It will improve. What he doesn’t want… Read more »


I like Arteta and think he has the potential to be a top manager, but let’s not forget this is his first job and this current situation is a real test of whether he has what it takes. The trophy was great and he has made us more defensively solid (at the cost of a collapsing offense). But he’s also only picked up 46 points through his first 29 games – for comparison Emery picked up 59. The fact he’s a former Arsenal captain & that he’s well spoken (coming after Emery who while he should be commended for speaking… Read more »


How many points did Emery earn in his final 29 games? If you believe in Arteta, then believe in him and don’t write him off. If the manager’s job is to deliver trophies, and Arteta did that within 10 months, and if everyone was calling for us to be better defensively, and he’s done that, then doesn’t that warrant renewed faith? I think that has bought him good will, not his ability to speak to the press (if that were the gauge, Wenger would manage us through eternity). None of the competitions in which we are in is yet over.… Read more »


Arteta has and is getting a phenomenal level of support – really not sure why you’re so put off by anyone pointing out the results aren’t materially better than they were under Emery. Even Emery’s last 29 games which include the rails falling off we focused on the Europa League final & the right before he was sacked compare pretty well to Arteta – 42 vs. 46 points. At some point Arteta needs to show he can figure this out b/c this flat out isn’t working- averaging 3 shots on target per game isn’t going to get you anywhere but… Read more »


I’m simply defending the manager and his project, which is still in its adolescent stages. The results and the belief the project have transmitted throughout the club are better than what Emery achieved at the club (we wanted better defence and we got it, we wanted a trophy and we got it), and as you are rightly pointing out, Arteta is new at this — it’s highly impressive. You are welcome to cast doubt and suspicion on his project, and follow any mention of the positive changes he’s brought to the club with the inevitable “but,” but I’m heading in… Read more »


He’s getting more than a fair shot to do this & the fans are being incredibly patient. BUT if we get to the end of the year and things still look like this then we’re going to need to start to think about whether he is the right man or not. I think he should get the year & hopefully he does figure it out- but this ultimately is a results based business.


To clarify – full season & not just until calendar year


What does “more than a fair shot mean,” exactly?

Glad to hear that he gets to the end of the season to turn things around. Is there a target that he needs to hit to keep his job?


By the end of the season he will have been in the job 18 months. He has a much lower bar in that he needs to have the team in a position where challenging for CL position looks viable next year – i.e. he needs to be making real progress. Any other manager would have real pressure to push for a CL spot this year. If we’re still far and away the worst offense in the PL and are still midtable by year end then we need to take a hard look at if he’s the right man for the… Read more »


What if the attack improves and we finish in 6th by the end of the season, but no cups to hold. Does he keep his job for another season?


He keeps his job is there is enough progress to view competing for a CL spot a realistic next year – we have a CL wage budget and have spent quite a bit on players the past several years as well. But not if we’re still playing like this. I’m hopeful he can turn it around but this is pretty awful stuff right now – you can’t win if you can’t score


Excellent — I have no doubts that we will improve.


Excellent defense of sanity, Futsboller. Some people just wanna bitch, act like the real world is the same as a video game, armchair manager it and act surprised with reality doesn’t match their own over inflated opinion of their fantasy managerial skills. (TBH, I don’t always agree with Blogs as I think he makes snap decisions based own his own subjective world view, but that’s just me. e.g., Auba down the middle, didn’t change anything. Its not always simple as one thinks.) Klopp needed what, 3 or 4 seasons to turn Liverpool around, along with hundreds of millions of pounds… Read more »


Klopp actually made the CL after his first full season & Pep won the title pretty comfortably his second season. I would add that both were proven managers with a history of success – what Klopp achieved at Dortmund is pretty astounding when you take into account the built in advantages Bayern have in the league. Most people are for giving Arteta time – no one is saying he has to contend BUT he also needs to show real progress. Hopefully he does. If not Overmars & Vandersar are making noises about wanting a new challenge & possibly could bring… Read more »


There are major issues of this “we used to get hammered by the big teams argument” and it is misleading. Bad results in big games were usually away (which is 4 to 5 games) Home record against all teams (including top 4 teams) was always solid (Arsenal only lost 2 and drew 2 home games in Wenger’s last season while winning the remaining 15). There are about 5 “big teams” and 14 “small teams” as opposition. So you get about 30 points by winning all “big games” and 84 points by winning all “small games”. The implication of point 3… Read more »


Sure, of course, but fan sentiment and punditry labelled Arsenal as weak in big matchups and the performances against the top teams, Liverpool and City, the past 3 years were dismal at times, and before that our record against Bayern Munich in the CL was nothing short of embarrassing. Big losses don’t have to happen often to have a profound effect on a team’s psyche; Bergkamp said, for example, that when he first played with Arsenal he didn’t feel like they could compete with United. That changed a few years later and stayed with him the rest of his time… Read more »


This is a true John Maddenism at it’s finest. “We had two shots and if we scored one we would have won”. Pure hilarity. Thank you.


Congratulations on taking that out of context. Superb.

Philip Visser

I’m all for staying positive and constructive but then I want see highly paid professionals actually playing accordingly. How much time do you give Arteta and the players to get the basics right? You can’t play a forward passing game if your passing game is not spot-on or your 1st touch doesn’t come off, or you can’t win 2nd balls. Bellerin talks nicely about not taking advantage of freekicks and corners, which so far this season had been atrocious, but he neglects to mention 4 games already he conceded possession because of foul throws. At this rate of progression, when… Read more »


I disagree, and the season will bear it out. It’s not too early to be worried and to acknowledge the warning signs, but it’s too early to decide that we’re a mid-level team. A few weeks ago we were celebrating a historic victory over United. Back in August, we added to our historic FA Cup haul.

Arteta is under no illusions — he knows we’re not good enough, and he’s been saying it every week. Thank god for that. Give him time to make lasting changes and to develop his style of play.

Viju Jacob

All it takes is 6 games into the season to know where a team is headed. This season is looking worse than last year, which was worse than the year before. I was hopeful about Arteta when he took over, but he is Emery redux, sadly.


Huh? So, after six games this season, the table read:

Aston Villa
Leicester City
Arsenal (11th)

You see Everton as potential champs, Villa as top four? You must be one hell of a gambler.

Lack of Perspective

I dont get the madness. It’s quite clear that there is an incremental and deliberate process going on behind the scene. 1. Mentality 2. Defense 3. Attack We clearly see we are still coming through the first steps. Defense and mentality are improving. We are not pushovers anymore, competitive in big games, but not perfect and fuck up, meaning work still to do there. But the deliberate and purposeful improvements are noticable in both mentality and defense. That is inarguable at this point. The team is in definitively better shape than it was. Even if results dont show it yet.… Read more »


You’ve articulated this shared perspective much more concisely than I’ve tried to do in 5 or 6 comments on here — thank you!


honestly heccy b has been very reliable (reliable foul throws too!) in an incredibly unreliable team set up.

I do still trust in the current process, I trust that it will improve, but it could get worse before it gets better.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Pepe and Lacazette not bringing their contribution is our problem. Even Klopp wouldn’t win with the level of performance (in terms of goals) of these two.


Think for a moment. It’s Pepe, Laca and Willian letting us down, doing nothing or whatever but it’s not Auba! In fact we have to shift Auba here or there. The reality is we are defensively solid ( pool and Villa aside) but the whole team is struggling as a unit in transition to attack. Midfielders too. Defenders too are now pressed and that hard low and long pass from Gabriel has disappeared too. It’s easy to blame the players in a negative system but pick out Auba for an excuse. The reality is all our attackers are good. Willian… Read more »


Good boy, Hector! Btw, luck? Yes, Leeds hit the post 3 times.

David C

Bellerin has been improving lately which is great to see after a long term injury.

Who are the automatics in our team right now?

For me:
Bellerin Holding Gabriel Tierney
Partey Saka

Lots of open spots and too many bang average players filling them.


3 spots open, all 3 attacking midfielders.

where are we lacking? creativity in midfield.


Most would say the strength of our team is the left side with Tierney, Saka and Auba. But, the last two goals we scored from open play (Oct 4) came down the right with Hector setting them up. When was the last time we scored a goal in the league from the left side?


i think that is because of other teams realising our main(only) real threat coming from that side and being more defensively aware

A Different George

I think Bellerin has been good enough to play for anyone (which worries me, of course). People who say he is “getting back” to where he was before his injury must have very high standards and very hazy memories. This is right now a world-class right fullback.


Its the catch 22. Play well and he will be on Barca and other squads radar. Last summer was not the time to sell him as we need him this season to rebuild our as is flagging push back to the top end. but at some point, he may get too big for us and not his fault. AMN I always mention had potential as an up and coming behind Bellerin on preferably natural side Rback but he has played left and his versatilty gives added cover on the left with Kolasinac likely to leave at some point as well.… Read more »


Let’s put this out there. Things are dire enough that out best creator is our right-back. We have a serviceable back-up in AMN. What would a team with Hector playing in the front three or the RHS of a 4-3-3 midfield with AMN behind him do? It’s something to wonder.


Bellerin is getting back to his best, but I don’t see why AMN never got his shot at right midfield. It’s not as if there are players showing the way there.


That too. The fact remains that our LHS isn’t productive enough, right now, Bellerin is. If he is always in an advanced position, or AMN has the means to consistently cover for him, the transition from HB’s position to dangerous areas will be faster. Additionally, both AMN and Bellerin can be defensive minded, and AMN can hold the ball in the midfield long enough to find someone to pass too.


Thought he had some very good moments Bellerin particularly with our backs to the wall. One reason why I thought it would have been idiotic to had sold him last summer. The way he carried the ball and released Saka was brilliant. And if we have better right wing output from either of Willian, Pepe or indeed a hardworking Nelson, it will give Bellerin more opportunity to press forward. In many ways his greater strength defending is pushing higher up the pitch. Some cover needs to be worked out behind him with the space he leaves behind. At present Holding… Read more »


I prefer to accentuate the disappointment, despite the positives


I see what you did there.

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