Mikel Arteta is gearing Arsenal up for a huge Premier League clash.
Being thumped by Aston Villa was the lowest point during his spell in charge of Arsenal, one which has featured the highs of Wembley and the disappointments of Europa League exits.
Eight matches into the season with four wins and four losses is not where the club wanted to be, regardless of having played Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United away from home already. Leicester and Aston Villa are not to be scoffed at either.
It’s the manner of performances which is of the biggest worry, and nothing less than the antithesis of their most recent outing will do when Arsenal make the trip north to face Leeds on Sunday.
“We’re a long way, I’m afraid. It’s part of a process. The results have to be immediate, and the challenge we have with the club we are representing is that we have to win as quickly as possible every game in every competition.
“There are a lot of things to do, short term and medium term, we have seen a lot of changes not only on the pitch but structurally as a club as well, it’s been difficult, it’s been a challenging time in the last three or four months, a lot of things have happened.”
In the short time he’s been in the dugout, we’ve become accustomed to the Spaniard’s straight talking. No sugar coating his words or deflecting from the issues at hand, whatever your opinion may be of his tactical blueprint, his candid manner is refreshing.
Indubitably, Arsenal are a long way off reaching nirvana. Football fans worldwide are guilty of getting carried away with certain results, losing sight of the larger issue and the gulf in quality from what would be perceived as the ‘ideal’ version of their team. It’s normal.
Bumps in the road are inevitable, as are criticisms, but to assume change is going to take place overnight is a dangerous mindset. Tempering such notions is part of Arteta’s remit, yet do not absolve him from blame – especially after Villa.
Short-term progress is required, but preparing for a slightly different eventuality wouldn’t hurt.