Furious fans DEMAND Arteta be SACKED after Fulham debacle!


Okay, so no, they didn’t. Well, a few did. They’re the same “fans” who demanded Arteta be sacked after we stumbled to fifth place two seasons ago, after we failed to win the Prem last season, and after we lost to Man U over the summer. There are some fans whose emotional stability matches that of a ping pong ball in a bouncy house. Yes, on paper, we really should have trounced Fulham. That we ended up narrowly escaping with a point offers cold comfort. Arteta does deserve the lion’s share of the blame.

I say “lion’s share” because, let’s face it, the lads seemed more interesting in seeing how many passes they could put straight to a Fulham player rather than to a teammate. Time and time and time again, misplaced passes killed us, whether it was Saka’s brilliant through-ball into space for Fulham’s Pereira to score or any of the countless others. We were careless, and we got punished.

Having said that, Arteta did himself no favours with his squad selection. For one, I think we’ve all tired of Partey as an inverted full back. It’s not a role that suits him, it disrupts the midfield rhyhtm, and it denies Saka the support he gets from White. It’s one thing to ask a DM to play RB; it’s quite another to ask him to play this newly invented role on the fly. Partey often looked flummoxed and hesitant.

Deprived of any real support or service of the kind White offers him, Saka played like a man possessed, for good and for bad, veering into late-stage Sanchezian heroball. For as often as he rinsed Robinson, he also wasted chances by shooting when he should have passed (a problem compounded by the fact that he so often had no one to pass to). Partey either wouldn’t or couldn’t get high up enough to support him, and White had too much to worry about dealing with Jimenez and our tendency to cough up the ball, leading to quick Fulham counters and long balls.

Kiwior, a CB by trade, was pressed into service ahead of Tierney, whose exclusion continues to baffle even as a move to Real Sociedad develops. The Scotsman is no inverted fullback, but we shouldn’t need such bells and whistles against Fulham. Kiwior performed reasonably well but never looked comfortable, and Arteta really should have subbed Zinchenko in far sooner than the 56th minute.

None of this is doing Rice or Havertz any favours, either. Rice does seem to have settled in nicely, but he’s hardly dazzled or done anything to justify that astronomical fee. The situation with Havertz is somewhat worse even if the fee is somewhat lower. Having just left an unsettled, chaotic situation, he looks ill at ease, and fans are starting to turn on him. One misplaced pass elicited groans, and he was subbed off soon after.

The continued exclusion of Magalhães continues to baffle. Why exclude one of your best CBs, move your best RB to CB, one of your other CBs to LB, and your DM to RB? That’s just too many letters shifting around. We could pretend that it’s tactical, with Saliba the better ball-carrying CB and faster runner (as shown by his footrace with Traore in stoppage time), but it still doesn’t add up. All of Arteta’s tinkering has discombobulated the squad. There’s no chemistry, and each of these three matches has felt like we’re wearing someone else’s shoes…and they’re on the wrong feet to boot. Arteta has got to stop overthinking it and get back to basics. Keep it simple, sweetheart.

On a larger level, part of what we’re experiencing is the difference in expectations from last year to this. No one expected us to be anywhere close to the top of the table for any stretch of the season, much less spending 248 days there. It’s one thing to play the role of the dark horse coming out of nowhere, defying expectations, and surprising opponents and pundits alike. This time through, though, we’re more of a known quantity. We’ve lost some of that element of surprise, and, what’s more, we’ve lost some of the hunger and determination that came with having something to prove. Arteta should have anticipated that (and maybe he did), but all of this tinkering after all of that spending suggests that he’s gotten himself in over his head.

Hell, when Paul Tierney awards you a penalty and sends off an opponent, and you’re at home to Fulham, you really should come away with all three points. For it to feel like we were fortunate to come away with a draw feels rather damning. Arteta had better get back to what worked so well last year. Anything less than a confident, comfortable win next week, and I get the sense that certain sections of the fanbase may start warming tar, plucking feathers, and sharpening pitchforks.

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15 thoughts on “Furious fans DEMAND Arteta be SACKED after Fulham debacle!

  1. Peter Lindstedt

    Good summary. Arteta is brilliant but appears too stubborn to see the obvious. We have been poor and predictable as a result. This nonsense has to stop before more damage is done. Pep realised that you have to use the strengths of the players you have (Walker) even if you prefer a different system.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Thanks – one angle I wanted to explore (but this post was getting lengthy…) was the idea that Arteta is willing to risk dropping points here and there as he pursues deeper formational flexibility that will pay off in the long run. If that’s the case, it’s a high risk plan, all the more so when you’re missing key players.

  2. Palladio43

    Well you said it all. Obviously we are not yet at AMG (sounds familiar), but only because some fans have Havertz and others to blame first, I guess. Based on this article we may have had at least five players in the wrong position and several more not being played or waiting to be shipped off. Does Arteta risk losing the team if they feel they are being blamed while trying to play in a system that does not work? The public is fickle and the honeymoon never lasts that long, especially when fans recall what could have been last year and see signs of chaos or unraveling this year. Granted a few good wins especially against better clubs will dispell some, but not all doubts, but this time other sides are better, have better managers, and we cannot blame our roster on the predecessors.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Indeed. Arteta seems to be overdoing it, maybe feeling pressure after all of the investment & backing he’s gotten, or this may have been his plan all along – formational fluidity. We’ll get some more tea leaves next weekend against a Man U side that has its own issues. Will Arteta continue to push the envelope or will he fall back on more tried-and-true tactics?

  3. Eric

    Agree with every word said. The players look uncomfortable in this new system and , to be honest, it doesn’t work.
    Best to go back to the system we used last season with the only change being Rice for Xhaka, this would give us the stability we need. Gabriel , although he can be a bit erratic, gives us a bigger presence in defence and Partey as a holding midfielder would give us the control to play the attacking football that we know we can produce.
    Mikel, don’t over complicate things !

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      well-said, Eric. Arteta seems to be borrowing too much from Pep’s earlier playbook, trying some mad-scientist stuff (remember Bernardo Silva at LB?) to surprise opponents.

  4. Stan Adams

    Many people think Declan Rice was the best transfer business done this summer but everyone at Chelsea must be rolling about on the floor laughing at banking 65 million for Havertz.
    Apparently the new “in” song at the Bridge is “We sold Havertz to Arsenal,we sold Havertz to Arsenal hahahahaha”
    And to make things worst Arteta is disrupting the team to play him and defending him when hes dragged off after doing nothing.
    Love you Mikel but gotta say what do you see in this guy ?????

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      I’m hoping and praying Havertz proves his critics wrong if only to shut up those Chelsea fans. It’s one thing to sign Pepe only to see him flop; we don’t have any beef with Lille. I don’t know if I can take 3-4 years of Chelsea fans taunting us over this one. Please, Kai, score against Man U…

      1. Palladio43

        OH NO!!!!!! It seems as if everyone including Jon is in basic agreement on both the post and the overall issue. Can this be? Have all the planets aligned? What next?

        1. A Simple Truth

          no doubt P43…never in my wildest dream did I actually contemplate the notion of hell freezing over, then the unspeakable happened by the Kool-Aid man himself (lol)

        1. Jon Shay Post author

          When I was about 7, we visited London to stay with friends whose dad had been transferred. Little did I know, we were but blocks from the Bridge. Had the dad been a more-avid fan, he might have taken us to see it ,and I might have ended up a Chav [shudder].

  5. reg

    Well Jon you said it all. I must say I’m really perturbed with the Tierney situation.
    He was brought in by Unai and the fact he is gone makes me come to a very uncomfortable conclusion. We have disbanded a very successful line up and except for Xhaka we could put in Rice and probably be much more balanced.
    I really hope that my fears are unfounded.


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