“Don’t bring me good managers; bring me lucky managers” (Napoleon 1808). A very prophetic statement from the Frenchman. Arteta does seem to be lucky, his beaming smile at the end of the game said it all: we got away with that one and he knew it. A very scrappy win but hey ho, give me a scrappy wins over a well fought draws any day.
The general tone after the game seemed to be one of frustration as to how poorly we played, not without foundation, but I can’t help but feel really up about how things are going.
Arteta added rightly that we are going to get many more games like that and so we have to be prepared for them. The many more games like that I took to mean that West Ham had worked out how to nullify our style that had been so effective recently against City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Fulham last week, all of those teams came onto us allowing us to play out from the back and then play long passes for Aubamayang to run onto towards goal with great effect.
West Ham had clearly worked this out and deployed a plan to neutralise it; they simply sat back and crowded out our attack – and it worked. Willian was almost non-existent as were Aubamayang and Lacazette for pretty much most of the game.
The only way we were going to get something out of the game was if someone was able to thread an inch perfect pass to open up West Ham’s tightly packed defence and the only player we have capable of that is Ceballos; I am not trying to big him up as something really, really special, he’s not but he is the only player who has that talent to do what was needed, hence the reason you could hear Arteta shouting instructions to the defence to play the ball to Ceballos. (The only player that is, apart from one sitting on a beach somewhere being paid 300,000 a week, but hey ho that’s another story).
One thing is for sure; Elneny could not have done that — and a word on the Egyption. He played a good game against Fulham and understandably some made him motm, the bar was very low, is he the long-term future, of course not. Someone pointed out that Ceballos and Elneny are different types of players and could be deployed as and when needed depending on the opposition; I am going to be polite – the thought had crossed my mind.
Someone else may put forward the idea of: why did we play so well against Fulham, we looked so much more balanced — because they pushed up allowing Tierney to play Auba through with his telling passes that worked so well in the cup final etc. We had acres of space and Willian was running riot. This had little to nothing to do with Elneny.
The comparison that was running through my mind as I watched the game yesterday was liking the team with that of a tug of war team, with Tierney and Luiz out we lost so much of our strength, without those two and their long range ability, we were totally dependant on Ceballos.
Considering all this I find it hard to imagine that Arteta is not only on the same page but way ahead in the book and as such I equally find it hard to imagine that we will not add to the creativity of the midfield before the close of the transfer window.