Saturday, November 27, 2021

Arteta surprised Brentford game wasn’t postponed

Mikel Arteta admits he was surprised that Arsenal’s match against Brentford was given the go-ahead given his squad experienced a Covid outbreak in the build-up to Friday’s season opener.

On the day of the match, news leaked that Alex Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would miss the game due to illness and it’s since been confirmed that both strikers plus midfielder Willian and backup keeper Alex Runarsson had tested positive for the virus.

In their place, a young Gunners side, which featured a debut for striker Folarin Balogun, went down 2-0; a result that sparked a wave of criticism directed at the players and manager. While Arteta refused to make excuses in the aftermath of the defeat, it’s clear, now the dust has settled, that he thinks the game should not have been played.

“Yes, I was surprised [the game went ahead],” said the Spaniard on Thursday. “The regulators decided that the best thing to do was to play the game.

“What we did is what we had to do. through the club and the club doctor, we explained the situation, how it developed and the risks that we could see.”

Asked why the club didn’t confirm the positive cases at the time, Arteta made clear that medical protocols meant there were restrictions on what he could and couldn’t say.

“I am always very direct and try to give the information that is right but there are some policies and medical privacies that I cannot forget. I have to protect the club and I have to protect the individuals. If you ask me why I did it. That was the only reason. For me, it was simple. [I could have said] ‘They had Covid. My best players had Covid. I cannot play them. I have to put a team out there that is unprecedented in this league.’ And it would have taken the pressure off.

“For me that would have been simple. But I cannot do that. The club will be always in front of me. And if the individuals believe that we cannot give the right answer in the moment for different reasons then that’s what I’ll keep doing and I’ll do it again next time.”

He added: “If you know you’ve had a hamstring injury, you can say with permission from the player that you have a hamstring injury. When you don’t know or you’re not sure or it can be something else, maybe worse, then you have to be careful about what you say.”

Asked how the ill parties are fairing, Arteta said: “They had some tough days to be fair. Laca still hasn’t trained. He’s not been really good. Auba had a training session yesterday but yeah, they were affected by the virus. Alex is something similar as well. Yes, they were ill.”

As a result of the ongoing uncertainty, Arteta is still not able to give a clear indication of when they will be back in action. It sounds unlikely any of the four players will feature against Chelsea on Sunday.

“It’s still very uncertain,” said the manager. “I cannot give you any answers today because I don’t know. I don’t know if they are going to be able to train in a few hours or compete at the weekend. I don’t know.”

Arteta went on to confirm that most of the squad were double-vaccinated while others had received their first jab.

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Wonder if Arteta will persist with Bolagun up front if Auba does not make it. Or if sticking Martinelli there might be a better idea.

Runcorn Gooner

All because of TV money. Had it been Saturday at 15.00 it would have been called off.

This killer virus makes all sorts of allowances as we now know.

Azeez Is Good

I’m just glad this selective disease doesn’t affect things like the G7 summit, the Davos convention or Obama’s birthday party.

It would be awful to see any of these politicians and world leaders affected by this illness.

Nainsley Aitland Miles

I think he’ll persist with Balogun up front, but Saka will come into the team with Martinelli left out.

I don’t recall if Martinelli has ever played #9 before?


Wonder same thing. But it’s arsenal so what do you expect. Considering the circumstances, I think we can effectively give a pass for the match. Hope they come back stronger


Is that a sideways pass or a backwards pass?

The circumstances were regrettable and I hope all four lads make a speedy recovery but Brentford could have experienced the same and the match would still have gone ahead.

In other words, the circumstances didn’t excuse the manager’s game plan, which has been the same since he took over and will be the same again on Sunday.

Vaibhav Pandey

Gameplan depends on players and if majority of them had to sit out when plan was in place for some days, it is difficult to adapt. I am sure Balogun is a bright lad but he wasn’t supposed to start up top. Similarly Gabi was not supposed to start the match just after coming back from Olympics, these sort of things affect the combinations and how things were originally planned to setup. Do you think, team is a programmable machine that just feed the code and it will return the expected outcome?

Al Gilmore

The gameplan actually worked pretty well. We created chances during the match. Constantly got behind their wingbacks and gave ourselves opportunities. That we didn’t take any is the problem coupled with a poor individual defensive display from White/Mari/Leno. We can never know if Auba or Laca would have taken any of those chances or been in the right place at the right time (unlike Balogun) but I can tell you we always play better away from home with Laca at No9. So it was a big miss not to have him as he links so well with the rest of… Read more »

John c

It’s painful though understood.


I think the writers of the premier league script were hoping we would field just two players and get smacked 100-0.

I can picture the smile on legendary Valencia coach Neville’s face as he dissects the weak mentality of the two players who played with no goalkeeper.

It’s arsenal. They get bullied

Man Manny

Although I feel the team we got out on the night was good enough to get a win – or a draw in the least, I appreciate the effect of the uncertainty on the team.


I feel so sorry for Arteta because he has come in at the worst possible time and is expected to achieve miracles with an average squad that he did not assemble. I believe this will make him a stronger manager when he eventually joins man city when Pep leaves and all us arsenal fans are left with pie in our faces for under appreciating a young fledgling manager.


His CV litterally just said “I am friends with Pep” when he was hired.

My Favorite Martin

Your use of literally was just rubbish.

The Beast

I think a fair few, tho obviously not all, arsenal supporters appreciate that he’s a young, untested manager with a lot of potential. He’s also been put in charge during the club’s lowest ebb in the last 25 or so years and it’s also been an insanely weird year & a half in general. Having said that, I think he’s been backed this summer & apart from 2 or 3, the starting 11 looks like his 11. I really hope he makes progress with this squad because I think there’s loads of potential there. And if so, I definitely wouldn’t… Read more »

Someone's Body

Hey I’m an Arsenal fan who appreciates Mikel for what he has done for us and also for who he is as a man- but I feel he can do better and I don’t think he is under appreciated here. More experienced managers are dying for a break he has been given because of the connections he has in the game.


This has explained why a player like Balogun was anonymous and Martinelli hardly touched the ball in the first half. They were not prepared to start and was probably told at the dying minutes when it was confirmed that our two first choice strikers won’t be available.

We all know the F.A always had an agenda against Arsenal, but this is the height of it. If same has happened to Clubs like Liv’pool, ManC, ManU or even Chelsh*t we all can guess the outcome.


One can only hope that this sets a precedent to be followed. It feels likely somehow that there will be more cases like this.


Forget that we looked terrible all preseason, forget that Ben White never played in a back 4 in his career, forget the team we were playing had never been in the EPL. Its all the FAs fault.


ehm, both petersborough and leeds play with 4 at the back. youre welcome

The Beast

I think this is more a matter of the PL trying to save face & maintain the illusion of control rather than a personal agenda against arsenal.

Regardless, it didn’t fucking help us, did it

The Beast

Also tv money. That prob had something to do with it

Someone's Body

You are talking like Jose. No one has an agenda against Arsenal.

Except perhaps AFTV.

Vaibhav Pandey

Hope this is followed for every club – The 2021/22 Premier League handbook states “permission will not be granted to postpone a league match where the applicant club has 14 or more players listed on its squad list available”.

A Different George

Well, pretty clearly the FA had nothing to do with it. The Premier League and its national and international television contracts wanted this match to go forward, no matter what. It’s about money, not favouring one club. If it had been Liverpool v Man United it absolutely would have been played. And no, the referees don’t hate Arsenal either (well, maybe Mike Dean).


With the virus in very wide circulation, this is going to happen a lot through the season and positive tests are going to crop up repeatedly (with some severe reactions particularly while some players are not double jabbed). Sure, Arteta is right that he could have thrown his toys out of the pram, but the ‘regulator’ as he refers to it will have explained that point to the club, and they evidently accepted it in the knowledge it’s likely the boot will be on the other foot in the future. A lot of people suspected this was the case pre… Read more »


Say what you want, but our gaffer is an honest man of integrity and principle who tries to conduct himself in most transpartent way possible and doesn’t looks for a place to hide even when things go horribly wrong.


I think you have the wrong chat, this is the Arsenal forum mate.

The Beast

Where everybody shares your exact views?


Nope, I’m in the right place. I love my club, I don’t kick it when it is down. Cheers, mate.


You make Arteta seem comparable to Nelson Mandela and yet I’m the problem?

The Beast

Who said you were a problem?

Project much?


Answering questions with questions. Genius. Arteta could use you in his next press conference.

The Beast

Who asked me a question? Did I miss something?

Teta's cult of personality

🤣🤣🤣🤣. Thanks mate, I needed that.


I don’t think MA is going to change the minds of those who have made up their minds against his tenure, but for the rest of the supporters I think your statement rings very true. I liked the cadence of his phrase, a “gesture of generosity,” with respect to being vaccinated. Wengeresque.


“you can say with permission from the player that you have a hamstring injury.
” What? Just give a honest and simple answer. And play the game with the healthy players. We are vaccinated and prepared for the virus, so do not let it to disturb the season again!


Being vaccinated doesn’t mean you can’t get sick. It just lessens the effects of the virus and makes the symptoms more bearable. You get Covid (vaccinated or not), you’ll have to isolate.

Vaibhav Pandey

haha you are cracking!! as if Virus will go away if you have a wand of being vaccinated!!

The Beast

Wtf you on about?


I am feed off completely.

The Beast

Well, that clears that up.

Thierry Bergkamp (non negotiable)

Hopefully Laca’s condition isn’t too serious and he makes a speedy recovery.

What now then? Balogun, false 9, or something else?



The Beast

Martinelli to spearhead the attack with saka & pepe on the wings?


[I could have said] ‘They had Covid. My best players had Covid. I cannot play them. I have to put a team out there that is unprecedented in this league.’ And it would have taken the pressure off. Amused at the slight exaggeration there, but underneath is a reasonable point. Of course this is not the full and final explanation for our performances under Arteta, but you are blind or vindictive if you don’t acknowledge that he has had to deal with a high number of unprecedented external circumstances that have affected who he can play, and how he can… Read more »

Teta's cult of personality

Like registering an injured Mustafi who had one foot out the door?

Like playing Xhaka, Kolasinac and Elneny at CB in the Europa instead of registering Saliba?

Like choosing to sign Cedric permanently when offers for Bellerin and AMN had been rejected?

Like keeping a match-fit ESR out of contention for the Premier League squad until he was desperate?

Like subbing in our back-up LB who could have been injured due to a bad challenge (a la Partey) instead of the 3 RBs who were on the bench?

These circumstances? Yeah I see what you mean.

Crash Fistfight

I remember reading Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s biography and him having a philosophy of “listen, don’t listen”.

I think Arteta has a similar philosophy: “I won’t make excuses, I will make excuses”.


I had a feeling he would say something like this. Excuses is this mans modus operandi.

Bergkamps boots

He wanted the game postponed because we had one starter with Covid 😂 Getting the excuses in proper early this season. Lego headed clown.

Tanned arse

Fair enough. I’ve been critical of his playing style and personality (which to be fair is pretty irrelevant) but he was put in a difficult position last week and had to take the brunt of it even though he was following protocols and being respectful to his players. It’ll be interesting to see how the league deals with these situations in the future with other clubs throughout the season.

Hakuna Matata

Shouldn’t vaccinations 4 important personnel like athletes with a global audience be mandatory their personal choices be damned? The 3 lost points 4 arsenal have real consequences

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