Saturday, September 30, 2023

Arteta: Age is not an excuse for us

Arsenal may have the youngest team in the Premier League but it’s no excuse not to perform at their best, says Mikel Arteta.

The Spaniard has regularly fielded a starting lineup with an average age under 25 and on occasion, like Monday’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace, inexperience has played a part in our ability to manage opponents.

Left frustrated by the dropped points four days ago, Arteta was delighted that his players were quick to shake off a below-par performance with a promising 3-1 victory against Aston Villa.

“I really enjoyed watching them play and the way they started right from the beginning,” the manager told

“I always said the way they were in the dressing room after Palace, I think that was when we started to win this game. They weren’t happy with some moments we had in that game and they know they have more ability, more quality to do it.

“We talked about it, they had a great reaction and they know that the age is not going to be an excuse. We cannot change it.

“We are the youngest team in the league and we can change other things, we can improve other things and it has to happen now. Today they showed the level that they can play and I think the fans enjoyed it.”

At the centre of all things good against Aston Villa was midfielder Emile Smith Rowe. On a night when the England under-21 international was full of verve and energy, he also helped himself to a fourth goal of the campaign.

Arteta is clearly over the moon by the way he’s taken on the challenge to make more decisive contributions.

“That should be a habit and he should demand that in his game, because he’s capable of doing it,” he said in his post-game press conference.

“I’m pleased he’s developing that. He still needs to develop more in other areas. The other night he wasn’t 100 per cent fit but he made a step forward and wanted to play with a difficult injury that he had.”

He added: “When you want to take the game to the next level, when you become a really important player in such a big club, that should be the only priority, and every detail is important and relevant,” he said.

“You have to make them aware of that – you cannot give percentages away that can make big differences.

“He’s changed that, and credit to him and the staff here that are monitoring and trying to build that education with him, and it will get only better.”

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Johnny 4 Hats

When I woke this morning I had a pleasing flashback of Danny Ings stupid annoyed face that he didn’t get a penalty when Gabriel had the temerity to touch his arm in the box.

It was a nice visual image and made me chuckle quietly to myself as my partner in the bed next to me slowly drifted further away from me emotionally.


If your partner is in another bed that is another sign.

Johnny 4 Hats

We push them together for boom boom.


saturday or sunday?


That’s very Nick Hornby-esque, mate.

They really ought to make a film about chaps like us ….😉


Youngest manager too…


That was His 3rd goal of the campaign blogs, not 4th.

Funsho Patrick

Salient issues… Arsenal has played better games with bukayo on the right,Pepe kills transitions and loses possession a lot…cannot be part of a long term plan unless as back up centre forward…Emile Smith Rowe has a turbo booster! I love the acceleration…if Odegaard doesn’t find consistency he could end up as back up….Tavares is direct and stronger than Tierney…if his defending improves he’ll be a threat to Tierney… Finally I noticed the back four is only as good as the energy transmitted from up top…


I totally agree, I was really waiting for Pepe to kick on but the team just looks infinitely more balanced with Saka and ESR on the wings.
The level ESR is playing at having not even been in the team this time last year is pretty insane. Couldn’t make the game so had to watch on Sky; Carra and Neville going absolutely crazy over the two of them, the former saying he thinks he’s “the best dribbler in the Premier league”. Been a while since anyone has said similar to that about one of ours!


Pepe is the new Alexis without the end product. Its will be a real shame if he turns out to be our Lamela. Really hoping thats wont be the case.


It does sometimes look like Pepe kills moves but his goal contributions are pretty good. Both goals against Palace for example involved him


True. Pepe has been our one of the most threatening players (if not the most) since the end of last season. His goal tally this season do not tell the whole story as there were a few shots denied by the post and few near misses. Despite all this, I cant help the feeling that it is a tough job fitting him into any system, unless we play only counter attacking football. I also have this feeling he could be a decent striker- strong, can hold up if he doesn’t try fancy stuff, passes well, and very clinical in front… Read more »


yep. is frustrating as hell. he has been our most productive player for a while now but it still feels like he doesn’t fit into this team in a wide position. given how much we spent on him and how talented he is i would love to see him have a run down the middle. he seems to have most of the attributes we are looking for in a centre forward. laca is off in the summer and auba has likely only one season beyond this so has to be worth a shot?

Brady’s bunch

It’s already happened


I would not be so quick to blame Pepe or write him of. He seems a bit chaotic but his chaos creates chances for us when we don’t play the kind of football we played last night. Bar the first half against the scum we havent seen much of organised power play. Better manager would get more out of Pepe I am sure! Up until last night I haven’t seen us ONE SINGLE time even trying to play counter attack right after our keeper would winn the ball in the box. Ramsdayle last night, apart of his superb passing with… Read more »


Might actually be a good time to cash in on him with money bags newcastle – he’s just the sort of player City and Chelsea signed at the start of their windfalls. Financial (un)Fair Play.

Brady’s bunch

He’d be a great signing for them 🤥


Off topic. Just a quick note to thank those of you for your beautiful messages of support regarding Mum. Arsenal fans can fight like cats and dogs at times, but as a fan base collective, they have always been a cut above the rest in terms of decency, respect, class and an appreciation of what really matters in life. I believe it’s called ‘The Arsenal Way.’ At full time last night, I smiled and said to my family “I stand corrected. Arteta is indeed the man to take this club forward.” Their eyes nearly popped out of their sockets –… Read more »


Top Qwaliteee, take care.


Thank you Vonnie. 👍


As mentioned in another thread, Arteta may not be the one who will win us the league title but he is the right man for the current phase of rebuild. People who keep asking for a managerial change forget that there are not that many who can guarantee success and the ones who can guarantee success is unlikely to come to club like Arsenal who can not guarantee them resources in the same manner as Chelsea, City or United. Managers who do well in smaller clubs or leagues like Erdevisie are more likely to “fail” in a top, high expectation-high… Read more »


Arteta , a loved and respected former captain, of Arsenal, is a great leader. His management is evolving, time will tell. As someone who always loved seeing Wenger blood young players, I seriously love watching this team play and grow with this manager. I am excited each game. Football is a journey, not a destination.


Well said.

Teryima Adi



Thank you 👍🍺

No foot Norbert

I’m still not convinced but I can wait until the end of the season. Still think it was criminal not signing a good centre mid last summer but we have what we have.

I wish you and your fam all the best, stay well!


Thank you 👍🍺


With you all the way our friend ! Been the toughest of weeks for me too Tuesday saw me doing CPR on my 84 year old Mam until the brilliant paramedics arrived Can’t quite wrap my head around the fact I’d saved her life but I did & she’s still here & amazingly improving ! Some things transcend football itself but the friends you have made throughout a lifetime of playing coaching managing supporting & just being a fan finds those self same people are your lifeboat to cling to ! I love Arsenal but for now at least I’m… Read more »


Thanks mate. 👍🍺


Take care


Thank you. 👍🍺


All the best Q


Thank you 👍🍺

Brady’s bunch

Best wishes to you and yours ❤️ Been there myself 🙏


I don’t go so regularly anymore, but yesterday evening was probably one of the most enjoyable games I’ve been to in a long while. The connection between the team and the supporters is almost like it used to be, lockdown has definitely reignited that link with the players celebrating to and with the crowd and both they and the fans feeding off of each other. Loved Lacazette and the energy he brought to the team, he was a warrior and I have to say that I really enjoyed the buccaneering runs of Tavares, he really takes it to ‘em. Credit… Read more »


I dont understand the “The manager should take the handbrake off/The manager should stop ordering them to pass backwards” comments. Do these people honeslty think any manager in the Pl doesn’t want his players to score, or, instructs, and they hear him over 50000 hooligans, that they should pass backwards and they stop the attack and go back. Cracks me up tbh haha


Yeah, I’ve never understood that either, but it is legion on here after a loss; I guess we just need someone to blame. I think the first half yesterday is the design of football Arteta wants his team to play, and Blogs describes it perfectly in his morning post in contrast to the Palace game. We dominate, create plenty of shots, and give up absolutely nothing to the opposition. That’s Arteta-ball — hungry, quick, resilient. Whereas Sp*rs were garbage against us, I think we were so good against Villa that we made them look so bad – we simply didn’t… Read more »


Partey-Sambi combo needs a long leash. They were amazing last night. If they develop a partnership we could be sorted in midfield for the next halfa decade. Can’t praise Sambi enough for last night. He was very close to MOTM (edged by Smith Rowe – equal 2nd with White). Not only did he do it, but he did it off the back of an error that as a 21 year old took ownership of, and immediately said he wanted to be back out there to make up for it. Refreshing change from the exuses and finger pointing that have been… Read more »

Wrighty's hats

Agree with this comment Futsboller, thanks for articulating it well!

Hank Scorpio

I’m sure every manage wants his team to score but it boils down to how you set your team up to do so. We have been consistently playing as a whole being less than the sum of the parts. The heavy reliance on Tierney to be camped in the attacking third and RB tucking in as a CB, while avoiding the centre of the pitch at all costs are big contributors to the turgid horseshoe ball on display and I suspect that attacking approach is a very deliberate thing. But we have been completely predictable and easy to play against… Read more »


“If Arteta is paying any attention” the ignorance of couch managers has become hilarious.

Hank Scorpio

In the past he’s done exactly what I’ve said. Xhaka worked once at LB and he flogged it to death. That’s the kind of thing I’m referring to. You don’t need to be a ‘couch manager’ either to see how Tierney is used. It’s there for all to see. Dare I say it, even opposition managers may have possibly picked up on it too, hence Tierney’s reduced effectiveness this season. I don’t think what I said is particularly controversial. I’ve stated Tierney spends a lot of time in the attacking 3rd and is a key attacking outlet. I’ve stated we… Read more »


This is a strawman argument. Deflecting away the actual point. Which is valid. Or balance with tierney as a left winger and not a full back is bad, as Hank said, it worked until it didn’t – until teams knew that was our main attacking option. We threatened down the left and right because we were set up in a way that we could against villa.


I don’t think he’s making an argument; merely pointing out the absolute and complete absurdity of the fact that some fans claim that they know more about our football than the manager does. If the manager would just listen to them, we’d be better. Seriously, that’s really funny. 😆 The criticisms of our performances are accurate; but the notion that Arteta wants to play horseshoe football is downright false. When we don’t perform well, when we aren’t quick, brave, aggressive in the press, and move the ball with pace, the opposition resets so quickly that the middle of the pitch… Read more »


Sorry man, you know I respect your opinion and our discussions, but this is I strongly. We’re here discussing tactics and ways to improve the team (which, by and large has underperformed for some time. Your saying we shouldn’t do this because managers are infallible and all knowing. We played great against villa, because we had a better balance. Quite a few people have mentioned how our pover reliance on tierney had become too predictable (some warned it would happen as early as last year). The villa game was by far the most balanced right/left and even middle attack we’ve… Read more »


Strongly disagree on*


And I respect yours, but please read mine again because you are misrepresenting my point considerably. The criticisms of the performances, the discussion of tactics and ways to improve are all great, all exactly what we all do here obsessively every single day. All of us. It’s the suggestions that fans know more than the manager, that if the manager would just listen to them, we’d be better, that I find rather funny. Arteta and our players are not above criticism; that’s not what I’m say at all; moreover, a lot of commentators on here are really intelligent in their… Read more »


I just think it’s semantical – focussing on just that part of the statement is ignoring the point and derailing the discussion. There are things he might miss (that sort of thing is why managers have assistants – who I still have no idea about and still have some concerns that they are very much Arteta yes men – probably good tacticians in their own right, but hopefully not just students of Arteta’s tactics). As for the second part, I’m less convinced than you are. Ideally, Arteta probably would love to play more through the middle, but you’re saying that… Read more »


Appels&Pere pointed out something funny about the way some commentators go about presenting their criticism – not sure why that’s out of play … I’m saying it is down to performances; when we aren’t sharp, when we aren’t moving the ball quickly, we fall into the horseshoe. When we’re slow, we lose our outlets for the ball, and we are forced out wide. Xhaka is an excellent passer of the football; but when he’s too ponderous, we horseshoe. Of course, Tierney is an excellent fullback and he offers an excellent attacking option, and his, and other’s positioning on the left… Read more »

Hank Scorpio

Do you genuinely believe ongoing issues with largely laboured play is a matter predominantly of execution / performance?

Wrighty's hats

I don’t think it’s all a matter of execution and performance, but I do think that those two things have contributed a fair amount to the laboured play we’ve seen this season, so I guess that could count as predominantly. Retreating, not pressing, not going for second balls, not having the confidence to make forward passes, inaccurate passing, shooting off target, I think combinations of those things afflicting several players at once across multiple games have dampened our efforts this season. I love our current squad and I also don’t think they’re above constructive criticism. All of those things I… Read more »

Wrighty's hats

Futsboller and Daveo, I thought I would chime in, don’t mind me. I wanted to echo how great it is to read commenters’ thoughtful analyses of the games and players here, in addition to blogs and co’s articles (thanks blogs and co as always), I really enjoy the intellectual discussions that come up. I have to say it’s really nice to read and write about Arsenal with people who love the club as much as I do. I think raising the funniness of those comments is essentially a way of airing one’s grievances/bemusement about how some commenters frame their criticisms… Read more »

Hank Scorpio

Which fans are these? I didn’t claim that. I did point out that Arteta often perseveres with things after they work once or when they clearly don’t work. Xhaka at LB was an example. Playing Auba wide is another. I recall the hilarious assertion of some people here who supported Arteta fully in this and claimed Auba was not capable of playing centrally – a complete denial of the reality of his prolific career. I can’t recall if you were one of them so feel free to out yourself if so. Being critical of the manager’s decisions doesn’t imply I… Read more »


I wish for Odegaard to get a little bit more ESR energy in his play. He is the most technichal gifted and secure player in this team and a bit more forward plays and runs from him would take this team a level up.


It’s not just this that worries me about Odegaard. He also seems to lack body strength. In the Palace and Brighton games (and even in parts of the game with Spurs) he got muscled off the ball too easily too many times.


Yeah.. his first touched is followed by his opponent barging him off the ball. Needs to work on strengthen that part of his game or adapt his game to release the ball instantly under pressure. I am sure it’s possible, Cesc was a master at this and he wasn’t know for his body strength.


Cesc? I disagree. I think he was a lot tougher than he sometimes appeared. I don’t think he ever got muscled off the ball so easily


That’s the point he’s making I think?

A Different George

This is very common for players coming into the Prem from Europe–a lot of that “muscling off the ball” would be called a foul in most leagues. (It is even more true with this season’s “let it flow” directive.) Players who are obviously physically strong–like Partey, for example–are surprised when pushing is not limited to something at least approaching shoulder-to-shoulder.

Wrighty's hats

Interesting point, I think it will come with time for MO – players tend to get stronger and bigger the longer they’re in the EPL and the older they get as an adaptive response. Iwobi, Saka, Danny Welbeck, Hector were very all lean guys initially. Saka looks much stronger these days, you can tell he’s been working very hard the last couple of years! Sometimes you don’t want players to get too much bigger/stronger as it can slow them down, and take away the pace that made them so effective at first, like with Hector… But then again sometimes getting… Read more »


ESR better than Grealish at this age. Saka better than Sterling at this age.

kampala gooner

shhhhhhhhhhh we are trying to keep both of them


Adding Haaland to our team will take that average age down even further. Just saying! 🙂

Brady’s bunch

We can dream John 🤔

Bill Hall

Something to cheer you up, Liverpool are murdering Man U, 5:0 so far. Tell you what Salah is an amazing player, I wish he was ours!


Yeah, but they might just get Ole fired, which is not what we want. Conte loves a team with money to burn …

Merlin's Panini

The other thing with Conte, though, is that he can’t seem to stay in one place for more than a couple of seasons. He’s managed 8 teams in 15 years. I think he’s the kind of guy that’s so intense the players are initially amazed by him then get tired of him and down tools.
United are full of prima donnas so I don’t see much changing there if that’s the way it goes.
Maybe that Moyes bloke at West Ham could do a job for them…

Ben EagerBeaver

Umm… He’s been there before, Moyes. Hasn’t he?

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