Thursday 23 January 2020

Arsenal look to be mission impossible

Mesut Ozil
Mesut Ozil

When I played in the Premier League, Arsenal away was one of those fixtures you hated. It was a really hard place to go, one of the worst in the league, always a tough fixture.

Even when they weren't winning leagues any more, they were a top-four team.They had a great manager who had the respect of everyone in the game. Maybe they weren't always great against the teams above them in the table, but they could always cope with the teams below them. They could give everyone else a hiding, especially at home.

Arsenal now, as a team and as a club, are nothing like that. Teams go to the Emirates and they thrive on the fact that the crowd are completely against their own team. The away players feel that the Arsenal players will crumble under any sort of pressure.

And bringing in Mikel Arteta as manager is no quick fix.

I don't think it's an easy job for an experienced manager, never mind a new one like Arteta, because the squad that they have assembled at the club over the last four or five years is nowhere near good enough.

The position they are in is a good reflection of the squad they have, just not good enough. There seems to be no team spirit, no ethic, nothing.

You look at the last game, Mesut Ozil walking off the pitch and kicking his gloves away as if he feels he deserves more respect

His team was losing the game, he should have been in a rush to get off so they could get another player on, maybe try and impact the game, but he strolls off.

I don't see any respect for the jersey in that squad.

And the first thing Arteta has to do is address that, demand 100 per cent effort from the players. If the result doesn't go their way, then you can cope with that, but he needs a complete effort, not the half-hearted stuff we have seen from them for so long.

Even the appointment of Freddie Ljungberg didn't give them any sort of lift, and you would have expected some sort of a reaction.

It shows it was not all down to Unai Emery, it was down to the players and the squad.

As players, they didn't feel as if they had to answer to anybody.

They have shown who they are as footballers, they have been hiding and I can't see any of them playing for a club bigger than Arsenal again in their careers.

In the game against Manchester City, City were brilliant but Arsenal were terrible, very little there to give you hope.


It's easy for fans to say that the players don't care and for a player new to the league, like Nicolas Pepe, it can take time for them to adapt to the style of play.

But if someone like Pepe sees players around him taking the piss, not caring, he's just not going to try.

It comes down to the character at the heart of Arsenal and there is no one in charge of the club. Most of the board are in their seventies or over, they have done things a certain way for a few years and are not changing.

And someone like Arteta, on his own, cannot change that.

I don't know Arteta as a person or as a coach, but he needs to try and instil something into those players to get them to another level.

Things like a player leaving the pitch to go to the toilet or strolling off when they are trying to get a sub on, that has to change.

Arteta needs to do that right away, fine players if he has to, or drop them, but he has to stamp his authority on it, get rid of a few high-profile players to show he is in charge.

It's difficult for Arteta going in there like this, he will just want to get to January and try to get three or four players in, but he needs players who are ready to go straight into the first team and I can't see many players out there right now begging their agents to get them to Arsenal at this point in time.


A club like Sheffield United are the antidote to Arsenal.

It's nothing to do with the money a player earns, because the Liverpool and Manchester CIty players are on the same wage scale as the Arsenal lads and they don't behave the same way.

At Arsenal, I see players who have lost respect for the game, for the club.

Then you see a club like Sheffield United, people say they are over-achieving, but they have got to where they are on the back of hard work.

I don't see the same effort at Arsenal, their players seem to do what they want and maybe that's down to the lack of competition in the squad as players know they won't be dropped but at Sheffield United, hard work and discipline are key.

They have carried on what they were doing for two years, they have performed really well in the Premier League.

The key for newly-promoted teams is that they can't rely on one man, they work as a unit. They depend on each other as a team, every player in that Sheffield United dressing room knows his responsibility.

The players play for their manager, he demands a lot from them but sticks to his principles and he gets the rewards.

It's simple stuff, but the players understand it and it's refreshing to see.

People are expecting Sheffield United to crumble at some stage during in the season but they are still there.

There's a lot to admire about them as a team and as a club, especially their manager Chris Wilder, left, and you can't say the same about Arsenal right now, so Arteta has a tough road a head of him.

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