Is Mikel Arteta on borrowed time at Arsenal?
We are used to it now. Work hard Monday to Friday, take a breather on Saturday, watch Arsenal lose on Sunday. It is a worrying trend that continued at the weekend following our all-too-predictable defeat in the North London Derby, and morale at the club is lower than ever.
Our dismal form has inevitably led to questions being asked of Mikel Arteta, with some insisting that we should still ‘trust the process’ while others have now lost patience and want an immediate change in the dug-out. Here are some arguments both for and against Arteta remaining as Arsenal manager.
For – Signings
The present is quite bleak at Arsenal, but some of the signings Arteta made in the summer offer great encouragement for the future. The acquisition of Gabriel Magalhaes has been successful, with the Brazilian showing leadership, assertiveness and defensive instincts we have not seen at the club in a long time.
Elsewhere, Thomas Partey has looked head and shoulders above his fellow midfielders, even when only half-fit, and brings our play to another level with his impressive mobility, range of passing and composure in possession.
With rumours abound regarding potential moves for Houssem Aouar and Dominik Szoboszlai next month, a significant increase in midfield quality may enable Arteta to steady our sinking ship and hopefully give him something to build on next season.
For – The Squad is the Problem, Not Arteta
While I do not think that Arteta should get a free pass each week simply because of the squad he inherited or his inexperience, the bottom line is that this team is simply not good enough.
Over the last month, the team has looked incapable of stringing three or four passes together, regularly conceding possession under no pressure and even committing multiple foul throws.
As manager, Arteta must take some responsibility and the onus is on him to get the best out of his troops, but some of the mistakes made on a weekly basis are absolutely ridiculous at this level and the players really need to look at themselves in the mirror.
Against – Results
Of course, when a team experiences a run of form like we are, fingers will be pointed at the manager. Arsenal have mustered just two goals in the last seven league games and have made their worst start to a domestic campaign since 1981/82.
These damning statistics sum up our attacking ineptitude and show us exactly why we are hovering just above the relegation zone. Arteta talks a good game, and I really want him to succeed, but ultimately football is about results and if we do not start picking up points somewhere, his position may become untenable.
Against – Team Selections
This could probably be used as a stick to beat every manager, but nevertheless some of the boss’s team selections have left us all scratching our heads. Willian and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, among others, have made numerous appearances this season and continually disappoint, while promising youngsters like Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are struggling to get game time in the league.
Even more frustratingly, we were forced to wait a year for the arrival of William Saliba, who came with a reputation for being one of the brightest defensive prospects in Europe. Fast forward to Christmas 2020 and the Frenchman is yet to make a senior appearance for the Gunners.
In fairness to Arteta, we called for Partey to play on Sunday and for Joe Willock to get more opportunities and both decisions have backfired, so perhaps chopping and changing is not the answer either. However, there are far too many passengers in this team and Arteta has to either get a tune out of them quickly or drop them.
Next Sunday’s fixture against Burnley is huge and we simply must get the three points. We will be the home side, we will be facing a team that has actually done worse than us this season and it will be played in front of a small home crowd. I hope Arteta turns this around, picks up a few points over the coming weeks and invests in midfielders in January, but excuses and time are running out and I fear we cannot allow ourselves to fall much further without taking decisive action.