After another limp Arsenal performance against Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday, it’s another case of ‘same old, same old’ and questions on what improvements have been made must be asked.
After 14 months in charge it’s unrealistic to expect perfection from Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal. At the very least we should anticipate progress, but aside from a slightly improved defensive record, you’re left scratching your head as to where there has been a marked improvement during Arteta’s tenure.
By comparison, when you consider that David Moyes and Carlo Ancelotti both took over West Ham and Everton around the same time as Arteta and have turned their respective teams into top four contenders in their first full seasons – with worse squads than Arsenal – it really doesn’t bode well. What’s even worse is that Everton and West Ham were both below Arsenal in the Premier League table at the time of Arteta’s appointment.
We expected some teething problems in his first full season. Yet, unequivocally, it’s been nothing short of a disaster. It doesn’t matter how you spin it, 11 defeats in 25 games is an unacceptable figure. It can only be defended to a certain point, especially since the widely revered Unai Emery lost only 13 in his entire Premier League career.
All the numbers are against Mikel Arteta as his time as Arsenal manager must be questioned
The statistics don’t get better when you look at the attacking side of things either, with just 31 goals scored all season in the league and not one player reaching double figures. It took just 14 games to score the same amount in Emery’s first season.
After 25 games this season Arsenal are just inside the top half of the table by a point and haven’t been in the top six since the opening six games of the season. Since November they haven’t been higher than eighth. You can argue that Arteta has underachieved with an even better squad than his predecessor when you consider that the likes of Thomas Partey and Gabriel have joined and Bukayo Saka has blossomed into the talent he is.
What is even more frustrating is that for the most part after fourteen months, Arteta is still not getting the best out of certain players. Nicolas Pepe hasn’t improved, nor Hector Bellerin and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is declining. In turn, results have spiraled downwards. Fast.
It’s easy to put on a brave face and look for excuses, but unfortunately, the numbers don’t lie. If we are being honest it’s hard to find much difference (if any) between the reigns of Arteta and Emery, which makes it more unbelievable that one was hounded out of the club and the other is being given extended periods of time.
I’m certainly not sympathetic towards Emery and I don’t believe he was right for the job, but I do question why we are showing more faith in Arteta. And, it’s unacceptable when he is being given protection from certain areas when there are no signs of improvement in the future. Stuck in that same old rut where progress hinted at only turns out to be a false dawn, we then end up moving backwards again.
As ever I’m fully expecting Arteta to be backed, and he will see out the season, but the hope is that if things continue in this vein then someone at the club must have the foresight to ask whether the process is worth trusting.