Arsenal’s Premier League campaign got off to the worst possible start last Friday as Brentford celebrated their return to the top tier after a 74-year absence with a memorable 2-0 victory.
The Bees took to life in the big time with ease and fully deserved the lead given to them after 22 minutes when Sergi Canos drove low past keeper Bernd Leno before Christian Norgaard finished off a long throw to consign Mikel Arteta’s Gunners to defeat.
The Gunners were missing strikers Lacazette and Aubameyang, but the lack of resolve and lack of threat when they needed to fight their way back into contention will be of concern to Arsenal fans ahead of their Premier League clash with Chelsea this weekend.
“I can handle a lacklustre performance on the first game of the season if we get a result,” Gav from She Wore a Yellow Ribbon tells FansBet. “But the performance and the result wasn’t there.”
“There were only two or three players who turned up and looked like they actually wanted to win and actually played for the shirt.
“The rest of them didn’t and it was a very bad performance.”
It was a thoroughly wretched night in every respect for Arteta and his players with only Emile Smith-Rowe looking capable of providing a spark, while it was a harrowing start to life at Arsenal for expensive summer acquisition Ben White.
They were weak in all areas, especially in defence, with Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers struggling from start to finish.
But some who follow the club are refusing to put all the blame on the manager, aiming their anger at the club’s owners instead.
“I think I’m almost in the minority about my views on Arteta, I actually like him still,” says Gav.
“A lot of people want him out the door already due to the fact that we had a very bad start to last year’s season that cost us in the end.
“We had a poor pre-season and the players aren’t really coming in that actually excite us and look like they’re going to improve the team.
“But I like the way he’s building a young squad, players with potential and yes it might not be this year, it might be next year, but if we keep chopping and changing managers, we’re just going to get worse every time we do it and it’ll be another rebuild after another and another manager getting his players in.”
“I still don’t think Arteta’s got the players in that he actually needs to play the way he wants to play at the moment.
“I’m happy with White and I think he’ll only improve and I’m happy with the young fella from Anderlecht, he looks okay and looks like he can do a job for us, but that’s it.
“None of those are exciting the fans, there’s no big names or big young prospects or attacking players, which is what we needed. Our defence was fine last year so White’s really just a replacement for Luiz.
“We need some attacking midfielders and we’re also missing a backup keeper and the right back situation has got to be sorted out – we’ve got three players who can play there and nobody is good enough or nowhere near the strength of Tierney on the other side of the pitch.”
The relationship between fans and owner Stan Kroenke has been tumultuous of late and earlier this year it was reported that former stars Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira were teaming up with Spotify founder Daniel Ek to launch a takeover bid for the club.
Things became worse when the Gunners announced they had signed up as one of the founding members of a breakaway European Super League along with Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs, Manchester City and Manchester United – prompting huge protests outside the Emirates Stadium.
And Gav is in no doubt as to where the blame for the club’s recent troubles should be firmly placed.
“Ultimately, all the problems at Arsenal have stemmed from when we moved from Highbury and sadly Stan Kroenke getting overall control and buying the club outright,” he says.
“It’s completely down to Stan and Josh Kroenke, they don’t know how to run an English-based football club and that’s been shown by the way they’ve shown absolute disdain to all supporters, the way they’ve brought in new incentives which are just designed to get more money out of supporters on matchday.
“The state of the club unfortunately is down to our very bad ownership and the fact that we’ve got a CEO in Vinai (Venkatesham) who is completely clueless as well – I don’t think he knows quite what he’s doing either.”
Mikel Arteta has strengthened his squad this season by bringing in a first-choice centre back in Ben White for £50million.
And the Gunners are expected to announce the double signing of Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale for a combined fee of around £60million in the coming days, bringing their total spending in the summer transfer window to £129million.
Albert Sambi Lokonga arrived from Anderlecht for a fee in the region of £17.5million, whilst Nuno Tavares has come in as back-up for Kieran Tierney for £6.8million while Arteta is keen on adding to his squad even further with a forward and right back being targeted before the August 31 deadline.
However, despite spending the most of any team in the Premier League so far this summer, Gav feels Arsenal are still way behind their title rivals when it comes to the talent they have at their disposal right now – choosing to plan for the long-term instead.
“What I like about Arteta is he’s building a team and an age-group for the future. He’s trying to get players in that are under the age of 24 who could all come good in spells this year and hopefully next year and the year after,” he says.
“He’s building a team for the next three or four years with the signings that he’s making.
“We’re nowhere near anybody else; we’re nowhere near Man City, we’re nowhere near Man Utd, we’re nowhere near Liverpool and we’re nowhere near Chelsea, who have all been run and all had owners that are actually pumping money in and buying the players that they actually need.
“We can’t do that because we’ve got an owner who refuses to put a hand in his pocket and he wants the club to be run by the fans, so we’ve just got to accept the fact that we’ve got to go for these younger players and hopefully build up over the next couple of years to get to a point where we can compete at the very top again.
“The majority will be unhappy with Arteta at the moment. I’d like to see us fight and put 100% in every single game and I’d like to see us get some results and grind some results out.
“I’ll be happy if we get top-six but it’s very important, and obviously you do need a little bit of luck with the draw, that we do have a couple of good cup runs especially because we’re not in Europe.
“He’s got to play more or less full strength teams for the League Cup and for the FA Cup, there’s no excuses not to so hopefully we’ll get a little bit of luck with the draws and it’d be nice to have a decent cup run, perhaps a semi-final in either one would be absolutely brilliant.
“Sixth place in the league and a decent cup run is about all I think the club can handle at the moment.”
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