Is Arteta to Blame for Arsenal’s Huge Weakness?
Looking for reasons to explain this, the most obvious candidate is the general lack of experience. Fans have informally accepted that this young team is going to have to learn as a group and the bumps in the road they face will be ones that collectively they have to tackle together.
Players like Smith Rowe, Tomiyasu and Gabriel are key functions of the team. These three are not the sole contributors, far from it, yet their lack of experience in leading matches of this magnitude can set off internal doubts over their positioning and approach.
A lot stems from the defensive line, and Gabriel and White, despite how brilliant they’ve been, are still adapting to the changes. Perhaps it’s their natural instincts to drop a few yards deeper. The entire side suffers from an inferiority complex, a lack of conviction in how they play, which is remarkable to think considering how confidently they will start matches and take the game to the opposition. Just as they did on Thursday.
Arteta sounds like a broken record after matches. Each passing post-match press conference echoes variations of the words spoken in prior explanations, stating how the team has to be more aggressive in positive game states. Even on the touchline he frantically waves at his team to push up into a higher block. He obviously doesn’t want it, so why aren’t they?
For a team that follows its manager’s instructions down to very fine detail, the reasons as to why they seem to gloss over this particular demand can only rest on their shoulders for so long. The fact that this has been ongoing means the manager can no longer be infallible.
Focussing so heavily on positional play, his yearning for occupying the right spaces at all times has to be feeding doubt into the players. Such emphasis on zones and space limitation has manifested itself in an obstructive way. It’s the only plausible explanation. Otherwise, why does a team that lives by Arteta’s every word go against his clearest mandate?
Manchester United were there. Everyone watching on could smell the blood. Defensively average, rattled from the start and with the Old Trafford crowd quieting, Arsenal lost the game at that moment. It’s infuriating, as they could so easily have also put the game to bed.
Where inexperience previously stood front and centre, something in the manager’s coaching methods is rooted in the problem. Why does Aaron Ramsdale get told to go long, when the ball invariably comes straight back to him 20 seconds later?
It has to end. And quickly. The season depends on it as the moment that gets eradicated, 3-2 defeats like the one on Thursday don’t happen. Everything else is taking shape while this trait is making it all fall apart.