Arsenal’s 1-0 Premier League defeat to Burnley brought with it a new low.
A new low? As in, one even worse than previous? Such the the trajectory of this Arsenal ship that even when the horizon is within view, someone manages dump the telescope overboard. On Sunday, it was Granit Xhaka who cast positivity aside in favour of lunacy.
Is Xhaka solely to blame for this slump? Against Burnley it was his idiotic pseudo-macho tendencies that ruined what momentum Arsenal had managed to claw back in the opening periods of the second half.
Losing sight of the matter at hand, one that is the most genuinely cataclysmic many supporters will ever have known, his lack of clarity or maturity succeeded in tarnishing his credibility and Mikel Arteta‘s logic.
Wretched performances from the whole team can be traced back to any number of roots, but the senior players who continue to hamstring the side are granted freedom to do so.
Because they keep being selected.
Arteta persists with Xhaka, likewise with others. Days before kick-off, and even after signs of encouragement from the younger players in Europe, the starting lineup was set in stone.
Sacking the manager will achieve nothing. No coach across Europe or even further afield could come in and pick up the pieces of a squad so frighteningly mediocre. Arteta knows this football club better than anyone who could come in. The positives he’s made behind the scenes need commending.
On the pitch, however, excuses can’t be made for his short-sightedness in staunchly believing the same few will alter the course of predictability.
Simply casting a host of academy players to the lions is a dangerous ploy in regards to their development. But this was the perfect opportunity to shake the team up. Blood some youth, try Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the central position where Arsenal look forlorn and in need of athleticism.
Alexandre Lacazette may do well against Rapid Vienna but he couldn’t be any less suited to Premier League football as a No. 10, and Emile Smith Rowe, who’d been personally praised pre-season and looked sharp with his unique skillset in Europe, remained an unused substitute.
And there’s Willian, who needs no introduction. They’re not alone.
This baffling reluctance to select his team on merit indicates that the ‘non-negotiables’ have long since gone. Arteta doesn’t follow them, nor do his players.
Bring on Southampton.