That was hard to watch. Arsenal more or less loafed around the pitch, looking mostly lost for 90 minutes as Manchester City put 4 past a clearly over-matched Alex Runarsson to knock the Gunners out of the Carabao Cup. Aside from a few fleeting bright spots, watching today’s match made me embarrassed to be an Arsenal supporter.
A few thoughts, because this match doesn’t deserve more than bullet points:
- Gabriel Martinelli is one heck of a player. He willed Arsenal to the first goal. Hopefully whatever injury he picked up in the collision with Zack Steffen isn’t too serious. The medical team, I guess, determined he was okay to start the second half, but he quickly had to come off. Maybe it was a question of pain tolerance. Either way, the optics aren’t great, especially with a young star coming off a serious injury. That’s several times in the last few weeks where the decisions of the medical staff have left me scratching my head (Partey and Luiz).
- Great headed finish from Alexandre Lacazette on Arsenal’s goal. Actually think he had one of his better games of the season, for whatever that’s worth.
- That was definitely a foul and should have been yellow card for Steffen’s challenge on Martinelli. It would have been reviewed for a red card if VAR was in use at this point of the League Cup, but I don’t think it would have been given. They also would probably have reviewed Fernandinho committing what looked to be a deliberate handball to take the ball away from Alexandre Lacazette, who had a chance to shoot from 40 yards at an empty net.
- Speaking of VAR, if it was in use, the City 3rd goal wouldn’t have counted. Phil Foden was offside. I don’t think it would have mattered in the long run, but even at 2-1 down with the body blow of Alex Runarsson’s shocking mistake for the second goal, the match didn’t feel out of reach. At 3-1 down, it was over.
- Alex Runarsson shouldn’t play another minute for Arsenal. He’s just not good enough. He made one really good save in the first half on Gabriel Jesus and a strong one in the second half on Riyad Mahrez. But the rest of the performance was terrible. He makes me yearn for David Ospina.
- Why play Shkodran Mustafi? I’ve been more of a supporter of him than most, but the guy is out of contract soon and probably doesn’t have a future at the club. He also was caught flat-footed on multiple City goals. Calum Chambers would have been a better option. Or just throw William Saliba out there. You know, the guy the club spent $30M on who hasn’t played a competitive, senior match. It’s a really weird situation. There has to be more going on behind-the-scenes that better explains why he can’t get near the senior side.
- Emile Smith Rowe and Folarin Balogun both looked good in cameo appearances. Why not give them more playing time? We’ve seen what the older, established players can do (not much). The younger players really can’t be any worse, and they’ve got the upside of having room to grow and needing the minutes to develop.
- Dani Ceballos was awful today. He has developed a penchant for simulation, trying to get opposing players booked that I could really do without. He looks a completely different player than the one from over the summer during the restart.
- This is your periodic reminder that Sead Kolasinac is still at Arsenal and is still not good enough to play for Arsenal. He did more than most of the players on the pitch and put in a good shift of running, but he lacks the finesse and passing quality to make an impact.
- You could say the same thing about Cedric Soares. Why Arsenal gave a multi-year contract to a late-20’s, replacement level player is beyond me.
There is just so much wrong with Arsenal right now that it’s impossible to point to one thing as the root cause (other than maybe the guys upstairs running the show). You patch a leak and two more spring up. As I’ve said all along, it’s tough to imagine any manager surviving this, yet I am confident Mikel Arteta won’t be sacked. I also don’t know how much, if anything, sacking him would fix.
Arsenal play Chelsea on Saturday. That should be fun.