28 October 2022

Gooners want Arteta OUT NOW after SHOCK loss to PSV!

Just so we're clear—I only capitalised "PSV" because it's already done that way. Don't shout it out like the other capitalised words. Go back and re-read the title again. I'll wait.

Welcome back.

Be careful what you ask for, or something like that. My match preview asked for rotation, even at a risk of losing the match, believing that Saka, Martinelli, Jesus, Partey, and
Ødegaard were looking leggy. For a good hour, I got the best of both worlds: just two of these players started, and our new defensive strategy—let VAR bail us out—was working. However, it all went somewhat sideways soon after that, and we now occupy a precarious perch just two points from our hostile hosts. We now face much what amounts to a must-win against FC Zürich.

This has been the latest in a string of wake-up calls, and each successive one was louder than the one before. To be honest, we haven't looked all that great since defeating Liverpool, with lacklustre wins over Bodø, Leeds, and PSV preceding the draw with Southampton. If none of these suggested that we were struggling to keep our heads above water, PSV's two disallowed first-half goals should have sent klaxons roaring. No, not the band. I would have capitalised the word. If Arteta had been serious about winning this match, he really should have made changes at the half. Instead, his changes—sending on Partey and Saka after PSV finally scored a goal that VAR would tolerate and sending on Jesus after de Jong made it 2-0—seemed reactive and, to be honest, too late. At least he used all five subs, sending on Gabriel and Blanco to stanch the bleeding.

Having typed all that, I start to feel like I got less than I asked for. We ended playing all of the players whom I wanted to see rested without getting the result Arteta apparently wanted all along. Bah. Humbug. Sod it all. Fiddlesticks. Have I expressed my outrage eloquently enough? One can only hope. Well, that's the way the cookie crumbles when you have to rotate your squad. Not only are you sacrificing quality, you're sacrificing cohesion—and there was precious little of that on the pitch even as we did dominate possession. I suppose this means that we should be warming up the tar, plucking the chickens, sharpening the pitchforks, plucking the chickens, and hiring a plane to fly an #ArtetaOUT banner over the Emirates on Sunday. Failing that, we should at least take to social media to harangue and insult each other and set up and then knock down straw-man versions of each other's positions so we can feel good about winning an argument online with someone we'll likely never ever meet in person. For myself, I have a solid half-dozen arguments going on the Twitter and a few more on Reddit. I may stir something up on Facebook just for kicks.

Raise your hand if you thought we'd be atop our Europa League group with one match to play. Okay. That ...didn't work as I planned. For one, we pretty much all expected that. More importantly, for two, I can't see any of you. Let's be less silly about this. If any of you expected that we'd be in first place at any point this season, much less to be there longer than a Prime Minister's term in office ("first in the Prem longer than Truss's term in office, you'll never sing that!"), much less to be free and clear since matchday three, I'd call you a deluded fool. Of course, you're a deluded fool if you expect us to stay there all season long.

Look, my point is this—take this result in stride. Arteta did what he should have done, if only as a half-measure. He rotated the squad for a match we didn't have to win but then doubted himself and threw on players to try to chase a result. It might have made more sense to use the five subs in other ways, protecting Saka, Martinelli, Partey, Jesus, and Ødegaard. The substitutions didn't achieve their desired end but did send an unfortunate (however true) message to those deputised: "I don't trust you." It might have been better in the long run to stick with the original plan, even if it yielded the same result. Players would have gotten valuable experience and heard a similar message but from a different direction. It would have been the scoreline saying "you're not good enough", which is a far cry from their manager saying he doesn't trust them.

Nonetheless, ignore the chicken littles and the naysayers and the doomsday prophets. This result no more spells the end of Arteta as manager than it does the end of this club's ambitions. We all know it's only a matter of time before the other shoe drops, and I say that knowing full well how far that other, other shoe drop back in May. This squad and its manager have grown by leaps and bounds. They've just been knocked down. Something tells me they'll be getting back up. If I'm Nottingham Forest or FC Zürich, I'm not licking my chops in eager anticipation. I'm rubbing my forehead in nervous premonition.

Thoughts? Weigh in below the fold. Don't be shy. 

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