Well, that was embarrassing…


We went into London Stadium knowing that West Ham had lost three on the bounce. What’s more, we knew that Man City and Tottenham had already crashed out. One of Man U or Newcastle would also be out by evening’s end. We went into halftime down just 1-0 with Man U losing 0-2. Yes, Liverpool has advanced, but this cup was looking more and more like low-hanging fruit, and it’s a shame that we let it slip through our fingers.

We just didn’t have enough to cope with Moyes’s all-too-predictable strategy of soaking up pressure and hitting on counter-attacks. Mohammed Kudus, whom I implored Arteta to sign, was instrumental as our midfield was overrun. Jorginho was clearly not up to the task, not that he got much help from Zinchenko tucking in to try to create those overloads. Zinchenko is increasingly turning into our squad’s Alexander-Arnold. Going forward, he’s quite good and occasionally sublime. In defense, though, opponents are finding altogether too much joy in exploiting the space his inverted role creates on the wing—and that’s a problem compounded by the fact that Zinchenko is not a strong 1v1 defender.

Indeed, it was Zinchenko’s failure to deal with a long ball from long ball forward from Aguerd to Kudus, whose superb first touch bamboozled the Ukrainianv and whose second flew past Ramsdale, who hardly bathed himself in glory. From 2-0 down, it felt like there was no coming back.

To be frank, I really think Arteta dropped the ball here, if not with his Xi then with his too-late adjustments and substitutions. When we find ourselves thinking, “Moyes’s men are running rampant,” that should raise all sorts of red flags. Moyes is the mind of guy who thinks he’s living on the edge by shunning the handrail while on an escalator. Seeing that we were getting cut open too often on counters, Arteta really should have sent Rice and Tomiyasu on for the second half instead of waiting until almost the hour-mark. By the time they joined the fray, it was already all over but for the singing and shouting, and Rice had to endure a half-hour of jeers and boos. That West Ham scored a third shortly after his introduction only salted the wounds.

In the end, we can console ourselves and rationalise about how it’s “just the Carabao Cup,” a piece of silverware not really worth fighting for…but it’s silverware all the same, and our chance at winning it had grown quite a lost by halftime. In the end, to quote Arteta, “we have to use the pain on Saturday,” If he had looked past this fixture to prioritise the trip to St. James’s Park, it didn’t quite pan out. We still finished the match with Rice, Saka, Martinelli, and Ødegaard on the pitch with nothing to show for it except for maybe the fact that Ødegaard looked much livelier than he’s looked for weeks.

If this result does in fact fuel a more-furious performance when we travel north to play Newcastle, enough fury to come away with all three, then this result may have been worth it. Even if Newcastle have some injury dilemmas, even if they’ve not matched the impressive pace they set from last season, this was always going to be one of our most-difficult fixtures, highlighted by the fact that they blitzed Man U at Old Trafford (even if that is becoming quite commonplace these days).

We’re left hoping that we enough time to lick our wounds and rise to the next challenge. While it may be true that Newcastle will be without Tonali and Isak and may be without Barnes (plus a few fringe players), they showed that they still have more than enough to go into Old Trafford and thrash Ten Hag’s side. We’ll be without Smith Rowe, Partey, and Jesus (and Timber, of course). We’ll have our work cut out for us, so I hope Arteta is more prescient after this fixture than he was prepared beforehand. A win—or, to be honest, a draw—would represent a significant if not massive step forward for our tilt at the Prem title.

Average rating 4.3 / 5. Vote count: 27

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

12 thoughts on “Well, that was embarrassing…

  1. Jax

    Was it that bad? I gave up just before half time when my stream went down at 1-0 and I couldn’t be arsed to reset, we looked so poor.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      We never looked likely to score, and West Ham were getting forward far too easily. We can console ourselves with that “well, it’s just the Carabo” but that can only gloss over the result and now how we played.

  2. Dan Juma

    Truth be told Arteta is more often than not delusional (generally masked by good fortune). He thinks the name Arsenal without more is his work half done. There was no way a team that had Nketia, Alexander, Kai, Vieri at the same time could ever work. Think about it. Between them, no guaranteed skills set, no drive, no guts, no drive and palpably plastic. These quartet doomed the other members of the team. Put them together any day, I wager Arsenal looses the match

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      I’d dispute the first two sentences but do agree with the rest. Even with the injuries to ESR, Partey, and Jesus, and even on the assumption that Moyes would set up to absorb pressure and hit on counters and set-pieces, Arteta went too far in resting players ahead of Saturday’s trip to Newcastle. Let’s hope then that we at least get the benefit of fresh legs…

  3. jod

    From the manager’s viewpoint he’s trying to make sure his key players last the season. Postecoglu doesn’t have to rotate much because Spurs have relatively few games, Arteta doesn’t have that luxury. For the fans though its easy. Firstly everybody knows footballers can run forever so the number of games doesn’t matter right ? There’s also what’s implied in the article – just beat West Ham and the cup is won. The reality is if your squad players aren’t good enough to win a game like that you don’t belong in the competition. Arsenal’s problem last season was they had nowhere near the depth of the City squad, it remains the case. Running the first eleven into the ground won’t solve that.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Fair point, Jod. We’ve come a long way from the days when this fixture would have seen 3-4 academy players sent out among a midst of backbenchers and a few regulars on the idea that progressing is fine and all if it happens. These days there’s at least a sense of that we’re capable of competing on all fronts…but our squad depth isn’t quite there yet. We’re deeper than last season but the fall-off from first team to squad players is still too much. Key players–White, Zinchenko, Trossard, to name a few–were far from their best.

      We’ll have to hope that the sting of this result impels us forward on other fronts.

  4. jw1

    Perused the lineups of each of the top-half-table PL teams involved yesterday, and 5-of-6 went with the same strategy of fielding a heavily rotated outfield lineup– the exception being West Ham– who only left out Antonio, Zouma and Ward-Prowse.

    5-of-6 also used all five subs, bringing on their regular starters, except, again, West Ham– who played 8-of-10 outfield players the entire 97 minutes.

    Moyes values this cup more than the other five top-half PL managers.

    Not to excuse how dreadful we looked– but we weren’t set up to succeed yesterday. Which, in terms of the number of potential additional games (3) we might avoid by crashing out? Particularly as how our squad has thinned dramatically in just the past 2 weeks? The result was acceptable.

    Maybe had I sat in the rain and paid to see that match– then I might be upset. But in perspective– it was only the second match Arsenal have lost this campaign.


    1. Jon Shay Post author

      well-said. For myself, if resting Saka, Martinelli, Rice, Saliba, and Odegaard (for the most part) allows us to win or draw on Saturday, I’ll take it. Winning the League Cup is a far-lower priority than winning the Prem.

      That said, Arteta didn’t set us up to win nor did he make adjustments until it was too late. It’s worth remembering that he’s still learning and, like so many players in the squad, will continue to improve.

  5. palladio43

    Granted that CL and Prem have the highest priority and that quite a number of players are injured, both long and short term, but that does not excuse what happened. Even if one allows that shirt-tugging without VAR present is a commendable strategy, White cannot be excused for his play nor can Zinchenko. As to others chosen to represent Arsenal, we have Harvetz who seems to continually represent a very bad purchase who may have to be released at a loss within another year or so (Is this going to become an annual even during the Arteta era?). None of the others did much to distinguish themselves and, do we allow for rust in Ramsdale’s case? What was said at half-time that spurred Arsenal into action that allowed two more opposition goals?

    As to any strategy, either long- or short-term, why bring some of your starting players in just before the end, when any but the most ardent believed anything would change. Why not accept what everyone could see? Why not allow them a full rest until the weekend? Why, of course, why risk injuries when you already have a bench filled with injured players? Finally, while I conceded that these are professional players and should be expected to play hard at all time, when does the manager fully concede that lineup, strategy, substitutions, and other such decisions fall on him?

  6. Tikpo

    The team didn’t play well because the midfield was non-existent. It didn’t connect to attack enough to really threaten the West Ham goal. Calling out any of the attackers is futile… Nketiah especially.They had to have had some service to make the impact you expect.
    All in all, I would have felt better if we lost with a team made up of fringe and academy players. They couldn’t have done much worse!

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      true. while we may have had complaints about the first goal, we didn’t do ourselves any favours. Jorginho, Havertz, and Vieira were letting too many counters through and weren’t offering nearly enough going forward. I want to believe that Vieira & Havertz will eventually prove their critics wrong (Havertz was probably one of our better players at the weekend, but that’s faint praise).


Leave a Reply