After 630 days in charge, the football world is looking at Mikel Arteta’s stuttering Arsenal project and questioning whether the Spaniard can turn things around.

A rookie coach when he was appointed in December 2019, he learnt pretty quickly that a UEFA Pro Licence course doesn’t prepare you for all the twists and turns that come with being a manager.

While Covid-19 has certainly complicated his role, there’s no doubt that consecutive eighth-place finishes and this season’s poor start are far below the standards expected of a club that counts itself as one of the biggest in the land. When people look back on his time in charge, he doesn’t want the 2020 FA Cup success to be viewed as an outlier.

Could he have done better? Has he made mistakes? It appears they are questions that are constantly front of mind.

“I’ve looked at almost every decision that we’ve made,” he said ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Norwich.

“Sometimes it’s whether it was the right decision or not or sometimes whether it was the timing, sometimes if we could have explained earlier what we were trying to do or not.

“Certainly, I am the one responsible to make things work. We are not where we want to be and that’s my full responsibility and there’s no one else to blame, that’s it.”

Asked if he was thinking specifically about the way he’s managed players, he was quick to point out that criticism comes from all angles for every decision.

“It’s in everything; when you don’t win, you got it wrong, 100 per cent, believe me. If you played somebody, you should have played somebody else, if you made a substitution at 70 minutes, you should have done it at 25. It’s always like that, that blame doesn’t go away.

“Every time you lose a football match, it’s like this. What I can assure you is that everything has been through a thoughtful process with everybody involved around the club. When it was more down to decisions towards the team, decisions about how we’re going to play or with who, it’s always with my coaching staff. There’s nothing off-the-cuff.

“You have to have that inspiration, that gut feeling that you should never lose, but always with the right intentions.”

Arteta also made clear that he’s looking to be challenged every day by those who work closely with him. In so doing he took a passive-aggressive swipe at those outside the club who make their judgements without having all the information to hand.

“I want myself to question and the people around me to question me. They are the ones who are looking at things from a very close angle, with all the facts but they can have a different perspective as well.”

Backed by the board with £140 million worth of signings and with fringe and unwanted players culled, the squad that tackles the remaining 35 games of the season is very much his. How much Arteta was a driving force behind a youth-first policy is up for debate – the noises out of the club speak of a united front – but it will be on the Spaniard to gel the players. And quickly.

“We could have taken a very different approach [in the transfer market] and just go in the casino and gamble big. But that’s a big, big thing for the club that would put it in a live or die situation. We all believed that it wasn’t what we could do.

“Me being responsible in my area of decisions to make, I supported completely, the strategy the club wanted to implement. And there we go, let’s have a big go. There’s been a lot of changes and let’s be positive and let’s move forward. 

“We are in a much better place,” he added. “I’m happy with what we’ve been able to do with the ideas that we had. Now it’s about getting the maximum out of that team. As I’ve said before, the complexity in this industry is medium to long-term projects with immediate results. That’s where we have to find the right trick in the car to make it go fast as quick as possible and not break down.”

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Snc

Well… We restart this wkend from 20th position. The only way to go now is up the table….Just a question of how far we can go now until the end of the season and if all else fails, then arteta, you clearly hv to go.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Can’t get worse in terms of position in the table, a win-win situation.

Reiss Neverseen vs DicTetaBall

Lower standards to rock bottom, so anything above that feels fantastic. Arteta truly is a genius.

truj

“We are in a much better place,” he added. “I’m happy with what we’ve been able to do with the ideas that we had. Now it’s about getting the maximum out of that team.”

Reiss Neverseen vs DicTetaBall

🤣🤣🤣🤣

There’s no way @AAllenSpot transcribed that with a straight face. No way😂😂😂

ASH

In every top-4 Arsenal team, there were a bunch of players who wanted the ball, and who could do something with the ball. People like Bergkamp, Henry, Fabregas, Sanchez..

Whom in the current team –

  1. Wants the ball?
  2. Can do something with the ball?

I can only come with one 1 name who does both – Saka.

Then whom is the question?

karl

I think it is more to do with the rigid system that limits players creativity.

It seem to be pre-planned what will happen in every situation, but that doesn’t allow for what the opposition will do. Hence we are constantly caught out because players cannot use their own ideas.

TeeCee

As the military saying goes; “No plan ever survives first contact with the enemy”.

The secret is to have a decent plan to start with and also people on the ground who can sort it out themselves when it all goes titsup.

lessthanthesumoftheirparts

Arteta’s pre-planning looks an awful lot like no planning to me.
What was the plan against City? Against Chelsea? It beats me. Even Brentford was something completely different and not suitable for the occasion.
You’ll see more consistency from a quantum particle than this manager.

karl

His plan is automatisms, but it looks like you’d even be better off with as little as “go out and enjoy yourself”.

lessthanthesumoftheirparts

A bit passive aggressive my friend.
Personally I don’t see a rigid system at all this season. I see players who look like they’ve been told to just go out and ‘have a big go’. Or like you say ‘enjoy yourself’.

How can you develop automatisms when you change the formation and personnel every game? No matter if they’re available or not, one week it’s this, the next it’s that. Arteta used 34 different league lineups last season. If his plan is automatisms he’s doing an even worse job than I thought.

Tasmanian Jesus

Saka, Smith Rowe, Ødegaard, Pepe, Martinelli.

ASH

Hmm, you made my point. We are dependant on kids to create something.
Don’t agree on Pepe though.

Damo

Odegaard..Smith Rowe..Tierney..Auba….Partey

karl

Just look at the players he has to hand now. If you can’t even get a top 8 finish, let alone a goal, it has to be the method.

Daveo

So glad Xhaka is suspended. It could be the Willian moment when he went out just before christmas (COVID related I think) and ESR came in and took over and things improved. His hand is forced, just hope it doesn’t fall back into bad habits.

Tanned arse

No chance. He’ll be in against the spuds and every league match he is available. We bought in a player to replace partey when he’s injured. And at this point I’d be surprised if lokonga even started if he had elneny available because if he played well alongside partey there would be even more noise from the fan base about keeping them two together. I genuinely believe arteta tries to avoid those situations( it’s why we never saw saliba play a single minute last season or this pre-season. Good performances make it harder to justify to the arsenal world why… Read more »

Noni

This is absurd. I’m not an Arteta apologist and think he’s on thin ice right now, but how can anyone honestly believe his thought process is “I don’t want to play Lokongo and Partey because they might play well together, and then I’ll have to play them more.” This notion is bonkers. He might be a flawed manager, but he’s not a sociopath.

Tanned arse

I agree it is ‘bonkers’ which is why I make the point. Everyone has their own rational way of thinking and the clear impression I have of him is that he’s stubborn in his own beliefs as to what is best and those ideas are very firmly set. I believe in his head xhaka is integral regardless of what someone else does in his absence. I get the excitement fans have for seeing a samba partey partnership and here’s the chance (if sambi is fit) but I just don’t think there’s any performance that will be keeping them playing next… Read more »

Hank Scorpio

Bonkers is keeping long term injured players in both your league and euro squads like Mustafi and Chambers and refusing to play Saliba in any games including league cup games for which he was eligible. Mustafi is well, Mustafi and not only was he injured but he wasn’t signing a new contract. If whatever was happening between Arteta’s ears then can’t be described as bonkers I’m not sure what can be described that way.

SarcasmB0T

Yeah, it’s interesting how the word “unprofessional” is always only used for petty bullshit players do. Auba gets stuck in a traffic jam? Unprofessional. AMN makes a tweet saying he’d like to play? Unprofessional. Saliba complaining about the fact that Arsenal had him sit on his ass for half a season? Unprofessional. But for reasons unclear to me, a football manager and Technical Director deciding not to register a prospect in favor of an injured player whose Arsenal career had been a complete failure is not unprofessional Refusing to take £20 million for a player and then not using him… Read more »

Bleeding gums murphy

It’s incompetence for me. The Willian signing,the Xhaka situation, the saliba situation, the Ozil situation, the guendozi situation, the £50 million for white situation, the dropping of Gabriel last season for Mari situation, the playing Xhaka left back in semi final situation, the playing kolasinac in back three situation. I could go on but boring me self. Coyg get a win today

SarcasmB0T

I don’t know that I’m fully on board with, um, Tanned arse, but playing Lokonga instead of Elneny is a lose-lose for Arteta.

If he fails, that’s obviously not good, but if he succeeds and sidelines Xhaka – who Arteta has gone to bat for – it will make the decision not to sell Xhaka and extend his contract look even more moronic than it already does.

TL;DR Arteta has made a mess of things and every choice he makes now is likely to be viewed in the worst possible light.

Reiss Neverseen vs DicTetaBall

I don’t think TA is implying that Arteta is a sociopath but let’s not pretend like some of his decision-making hasn’t been “bonkers” in the past. This was the same man who said he wanted to “protect” Saliba. Yet when the heat was on him for the player’s inexplicable lack of game time during the CB injury crisis, he revealed to the press that Saliba was dealing with bereavement issues. Thereby not allowing the player to grieve in private. Both Max Kilman and William Saliba were(are) dealing with the loss of a parent last season. Compare how Nuno Espirito Santo… Read more »

Espen

Is the reason why Arteta has Lokonga and AMN in midfield against Norwich that he wants them to fail? Is the world actually ruled by a satanic pedophile cult? Is Xhaka their leader? Is Arteta his minion? This and more om the next episode of The Tanned Arsecast.

Bleeding gums murphy

🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

Announce Bendtner

Here’s to hoping he backs this up with consistent performances from his team.

We all want to watch attractive and effective football. Give us that and there’ll be excitement for this project.

Man Manny

I know the board is behind him…at the moment.
For the sake of Arsenal, I wish Arteta well this season.

ALbangbang

“What I can assure you is that everything has been through a thoughtful process”

I wish it looked like that from the outside in. There’s no philosophy, no style, no game plan we can point to and say “that’s us”. It all feels disjointed and thrown together. Nothing I’ve seen thus far says ‘thoughtful process’.

Andy

i think if you compare the squad we have now to the one that was in place just over 2 years ago when we played the europa league final it’s pretty obvious that a huge amount of work has been done and our squad looks much more exciting on paper. arteta seems well aware that it’s now time to deliver progress on the pitch. i’m hopeful now most of the squad surgery is complete he will be able to focus on the training pitch and moulding this exciting squad of young talents together into a coming force in the PL… Read more »

Tanned arse

Young players are more impressionable generally and are still trying to establish themselves so positive noises don’t surprise me. Ultimately those that are non-resistant and easy to manage, stay but clearly there have been young players who don’t fall into that category and I assume wouldn’t speak so highly of him (It’s just an assumption). I’m well past the point where I listen to arteta because he talks great and makes salient points but when it comes to what happens on the pitch, the team is dour. The play is predictable slow and one dimensional and has been for a… Read more »

Redgibb

I don’t have a problem with any of this.

If he’s got it right I think we quickly go up the table. If he’s fucked it, he’ll hold his hands up and he’s gone.

Reckon we’ll know in 5 games time

Come on Arsenal

myrtle

That’s a bit simplistic. More likely he wins 2, draws two and loses against spuds. Just enough for him to hang on in the job and not enough for improvement. I’d bet that’s the situation come next month.

razu

“We could have [just go in the casino and gamble big.]”

We bought Ben White for 50 million (while Bissouma was available). That’s a big fucking gamble.

Daveo

Yup. The White signing is a MASSIVE gamble. Hopefully, it pays off, but anything less than him being a very good defender (like top 10 in the league minimum) makes it a bad signing.

Tanned arse

I don’t think he’s a very good defender (not bad but nothing special) but he’ll give is exceptional control and composure. He’ll drop his shoulder when he has the ball under pressure and reads the intentions and movements of his opponent to go past them a formulate attacks. That’s why his there I think. I also think that tomiyasu was probably profiled at the same time to do the same thing and in the end they bought both

Daveo

Said the same the moment we signed him and the data back it up. We spent a massive about (7th largest fee for a defender ever and during a pandemic strained market) for a midfielder to lay defense. Mikel and edu know though.

Funsho Patrick

A big gamble especially when you have William saliba that apparently does everything Ben White does and fits within the philosophy of youth!….I still don’t clearly see where the improved creativity is coming from though seeing that our mid to front line is made up of the same lads that scored only 55goals last season…I would have added Yves bissouma,coutinho and aouar to that midfield…plus a returning Saliba and right back….100million pounds max…and it moves the needle

Vonnie

Coutinho and Aouar? One hugely over-rated, rIdiculously overpaid, lazy and past it who can’t get a move, and the other a trouble maker who no club wants to touch. Good job you have nothing to do with transfers.

SEGooner

Totally agree. I can rationalise every other incoming transfer decision, but not that one. Bissouma (even though he and Partey would have been unavailable in January due to AFCON) would have been more transformative to the team. I don’t see White being that huge an upgrade on Saliba

Daveo

I don’t see white being an upgrade on saliba
And Saliba profiles as a defender (not a midfielder playing defense). Clearly mikel dig his heals in over saliba and he didn’t like his reaction to being left out of all squads (I mean who would be chuffed with that) and now it’s pure stubbornness from mikel. There is no way saliba has a career with us unless arteta gets sacked and we get some big experienced manager in who can convince him he’s integral and plays him

Louis Furner

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too…

WayBackWhen

[then] Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,  
  And—which is more—you’ll be a successful EPL manager, my son!

Some say he makes good cakes as well.

I say ‘meh’.

Kenneth

Keep it up Arteta! Your critics are noise makers who are seeking attention. You should be judged when all your players are fit. Chambers, Holding, Cedric and Kolisinac does not appear to hv the basics. Ball control, reading of the game, temperament & passing/dribbling are sub standard – dead wood should be sold. Only option to supplement Tomi is Niles. You may need another if Tomi is used in the middle, cuz of his heading prowess to cover White. In any case, you shld hit top 6 with this squad. I am eagerly waiting to witness our full squad playing.… Read more »

In Arse We Trust

You have to admire this guy for his no-nonsense approach. In the meantime we are bottom of the league but his hair is still not moving. And I’ve still got your jersey Mikel!

Hank Scorpio

I’m really starting to wonder whether he turned up for an interview to head up our marketing department but somehow accidentally ended up in the wrong interview room.

Qwaliteee

The dude talks too much.

WayBackWhen

Hard to know what he’s supposed to say on-the-record though? He’s basically faced with: the bland – “we’ll work hard and must get better, Arsenal deserves nothing less.” the controversial – “Arsenal are trading on past glories, can’t compete with the money at City and Chelsea, I just hope I do well enough to get a better job.” the honest – “I couldn’t give less of f*ck about social media sentiment, none of them know the first thing about managing at this level and I wish I was spending this time on the training pitch. I’m only doing this interview… Read more »

Reiss Neverseen vs DicTetaBall
  • the bland – Best option by far, keep responses simple and do your talking on the pitch.
  • the controversial – L😂L, as if any other reputable club will be trusting this guy with more than £100 anytime soon.
  • the honest – I’m sure he’s said he doesn’t care about social media before, which is a position he is perfectly entitled to take. However, when membership subscriptions and attendance numbers continue to drop, that is something the club won’t be ignoring.
  • the other-worldly –  No comment bro, no comment.

Yep.

[For the lawyers] – the above = complete figment of my imagination.

Media training is probably summarised as: ‘Please be bland (ffs).’

However, I’d love to see the headlines if he did started quoting Spanish Saints.

Torterrier

Baloney

Ex-Priest Tobin

You’re not up to it mate. Get out.

Jordan 23

An introspective Arteta pre match, if it doesn’t go well we could be looking back retrospectively at his managerial tenure.

Cornish Gooner

We will get Bissouma when Potter takes over in a few weeks!

WayBackWhen

Jeremiah Chapter 18, verses 1-2.

WayBackWhen

Matthew Chapter 8 verse 26

WayBackWhen

Luke Chapter 23 verse 34

Old Stimmo

”let’s be positive and let’s move forward”

Be good to this translate into the playing style

SarcasmB0T

“We could have taken a very different approach [in the transfer market] and just go in the casino and gamble big. But that’s a big, big thing for the club that would put it in a live or die situation. We all believed that it wasn’t what we could do.”

… after we idiotically did it last year and it was a complete clusterfuck.

Daveo

“We’re so smart because we didn’t do the same dumb shit as last year and we did what fans were clamouring for last year (younger players; but that’s our idea of course), except then we spent a vast sum in an area where we have one of Europe’s most promising talents that I just don’t like, and I wouldn’t let them sell my granny. I mean we couldn’t do all the right things, no? “

Today feels like a massive day for Arsenal and Arteta. It’s as if the reset button is being pushed and today could be the start of a new era. I suspect in a couple of months time we’ll be in the top 6 and looking back at Brentford as a mere blip and at Chelsea/Man City as merely unlucky fixture timing. Arteta has made it click before after pushing the reset button – the FA Cup win after a change in tactics – and the second best form in the league from Christmas to end of season after integrating Odegaard… Read more »

SarcasmB0T

For the performances in the first three games, you should have a big go fuck yourself.

Der Kaiser

Today feels like a Cup Final. I wish Arteta all the best as he is clearly committed and has a vision based on assembling a very young talented squad

Let’s hope they win and gain the requisite confidence ( including from the supporters)

WayBackWhen

“Martin Odegaard says Arsenal’s ambition is to win Champions League “within next two years” – Daily Mirror.

Probably some uncomfortable shifting in seats in Highbury House when that headline popped up yesterday.

DaDude

“Err, did you understand Champions League, Martin? Sorry, we actually said Championship.”
Anyway, jokes aside, as Kenneth states below: Arsenal 3 Norwich 1. COYG!

Nainsley Aitland Miles

The Daily Mirror is a dog of a newspaper, so I think he meant in dog years. So win the Champions League in the next 14 years.

Kenneth

Arsenal 3 Norwich 1. Come on Gunners!!!!

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Norwich won’t score.

Viju Jacob

Emery was stubborn but couldn’t articulate much. Arseta meanwhile, is stubborn, arrogant and talks the talk in presscons. It all depends on his team selection (thank God Xhaka is unavailable & Willian is gone), formation and tactics, allowing the lads to express themselves on the pitch by playing to their potential. Arseta should shut up on the sidelines instead of confusing our lads.
It feels like a playoff for promotion and what a sad feeling that is.