Last season, Mikel Arteta managed to inspire a somewhat average Arsenal side to FA Cup glory. Arsenal backed up this triumph by beating champions, Liverpool, in the Community Shield.
It appeared as though Arteta could be the man to emulate Wenger and bring success back to the Emirates. Arsenal fans had a renewed sense of optimism and belief.
But as the saying goes – it’s the hope that kills you.
When Arsene Wenger finally decided it was time to say goodbye at Arsenal; it was obvious that there would be big changes at the club. Wenger’s Arsenal were so consistent, they were often snubbed as boring by rival fans.
However, Wenger’s replacement, Unai Emery was anything but consistent. Emery was not well-liked by Arsenal fans and in the end his sacking was inevitable. He left with Arsenal in a disappointing 8th place position in the table.
After Freddie Ljungberg failed to improve results, Arsenal made a move for Pep Guardiola’s number two, Mikel Arteta. Arteta knew the club well, having played for the Gunners for 5 years and even captaining the side. It was a risk for Arsenal to appoint someone with no previous senior-level managerial experience. However, the risk had appeared to pay off. Mikel Arteta rejuvenated Arsenal and led them to a record-breaking 13th FA Cup victory. So just what has gone wrong in such a short space of time?
Lack of goals
Arsenal have been worryingly poor in front of goal this season. In fact, Liverpool striker Mo Salah has scored more Premier League goals than Arsenal’s entire team.
A lot of the Gunners’ lack of potency comes down to their misfiring star man, Aubameyang. Last season, Aubameyang scored 29 goals and was a talismanic figure. There was much talk about whether Aubameyang would stay at the club and in the end, Aubameyang did sign a contract extension.
However, since signing the contract, the Gabonese striker has scored just 3 league goals. The contrast between Aubameyang’s form last season and his form this season is quite stark. He did get his campaign off to a good start, scoring an excellent goal against Fulham. But since then, he has scored just one league goal from open play.
Some might view Aubameyang’s poor form as running parallel with playing in a team that are struggling. However, in all truth, Arsenal are struggling because of Aubameyang’s lack of goals; not the other way around.
A more ruthless way at looking at Aubameyang’s poor form is that he has stopped working so hard since he signed his £250K a week contract. Whether or not there is any truth in that is unknown. However, Aubameyang needs to start scoring goals again if Mikel Arteta is to keep his job and if Arsenal are going to stay in the division.
Lack of discipline
Arsenal’s dismissals this season have all been rather petulant and unnecessary. But this is nothing new under Arteta as discipline has been a constant issue. It’s an issue that the Spaniard needs to address as well if he and Arsenal are to survive.
The north Londoners have seen a number of players handed their marching orders of late, with Nicolas Pepe, Granit Xhaka and Gabriel all being sent for early baths. And, speaking pre-Everton, the Arsenal boss was insistent that his side simply can’t afford to be dealing with red cards amid such a worrying spell of form:
‘I said the other day, think we have had seven red cards since I joined and two are disciplinary and the rest have been for different actions. But in this moment we cannot afford it, because the Premier League level is too high and the margins for us at the moment are too small to win or lose football matches.’
Arsenal cannot afford to have any more players suspended and Arteta knows it.
Lack of creativity
If only Arsenal had a world-class creative midfielder… oh wait. Mesut Ozil’s decline at Arsenal is sad viewing for any football fan. There is no doubt that on his day Ozil was quite simply one of the best players in world football. However, off-pitch and on-pitch issues combined to see Mikel Arteta cut ties with the German star. Ozil’s massive contract of £350K a week runs until the end of the season when he will surely leave the club.
However, Ozil is just the player Arsenal are crying out for – someone that can produce something special out of nothing. And even if the German is past his best, he is still considerably better than Arsenal’s other options. Arteta is a stubborn man and he is right to not include Ozil if the German is not pulling his weight in training. However, if Arteta could get Ozil included in the squad again and performing well, then there is no doubt that Arsenal could propel themselves up the table.
Fans are calling for Ozil to be involved again and despite us not knowing what has been said behind the scenes, you would be inclined to agree with the Arsenal fans. Ozil is a wonderful footballer and if he could get back in the team then Arsenal would definitely start creating more chances. But, in all fairness, this is very unlikely and if that is the case then Arsenal need to strengthen in January. Isn’t Eriksen keen on leaving Inter Milan?
Mikel Arteta is a bright young manager with a great future ahead of him. On a whole, you cannot really blame the Spaniard. Arsenal are in this situation because of years of poor recruitment and now they are relying on Aubameyang to rekindle last season’s form to survive.
Arsenal need to find something from somewhere, whether it will be Ozil returning from the ashes, or a January signing, otherwise Arteta will be unjustly sacked.
It is time for players to step up for the North London side and to step for Arteta.