Formerly known as dka91
Many here forget the last game xhaka/partey played together was vs. top ranked team in PL whom we were dominating until we were robbed by the refs. In all games since, we've operated a makeshift MF, to which all our total lack of offence can be attributed, because we had no one else in MF with sufficient quality to move the ball to our attackers in the middle of the pitch with speed and we were forced into the U-shaped failed offence many of us are familar with from late 2020.
So the games were a free hit / **** planning from Edteta, depending on your opinion of those 2. But so long as those xhaka/partey can regain their December form and don't get hurt, we still have a good shot at Top 4.
Yes we did well against City which did buy Arteta goodwill in my eyes.
Also yes it's true that we've struggled in MF since then but a few things to point out;
1. We knew about AFCON beforehand and inevitably we will go through periods when our first choice MF isn't available, it does not suddenly make those games "freehits". I'm sick to death of that ridiculous phrase, no game is a freehit, we have a squad for a reason. And momentum is important.
Sure I'm not that upset about dropping out of the cups (for me top 4 is the priority) but back to back to back bad performances isn't good.
2. We played Nottingham Forest, Burnley and a Liverpool side without their two best attackers.
Let's even ignore Liverpool because fair enough they are a strong team even without Mo/Mane.
Missing your starting MF isn't an excuse to look so timid and flat against Forest and Burnley.
I do agree that top 4 is still on but we will have to start performing better and I'm not fully convinced that even with Partey and Xhaka we will suddenly perform consistently well for a long period.
We seem to go through patches of good form but can easily throw up absolutely shocking displays and then continue to look terrible.
We will see.