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Last season Mikel Arteta managed to inspire a somewhat average Arsenal side to FA Cup glory. Arsenal backed up this victory by beating champion Liverpool in the Community Shield.
It seemed that Arteta might be the man capable of emulating Wenger and bringing success back to the Emirates. Arsenal fans had a renewed sense of optimism and faith.
But as the saying goes, it is hope that kills you.
When Arsene Wenger finally decided it was time to say goodbye to Arsenal; it was obvious that there would be big changes in the club. Wenger’s Arsenal was so consistent that rival fans often dismissed them as boring.
However, Wenger’s replacement, Unai Emery, was anything but consistent. Emery was not to the liking of Arsenal fans and in the end his dismissal was inevitable. He left with Arsenal in a disappointing eighth position in the table.
After Freddie Ljungberg failed to improve the results, Arsenal made a move for Pep Guardiola’s number two, Mikel Arteta. Arteta knew the club well, having played for the Gunners for 5 years and even captained the team. It was a risk for Arsenal to appoint someone with no prior experience in senior management. However, the risk seemed to pay off. Mikel Arteta rejuvenated Arsenal and led them to a record 13th FA Cup victory. So what has gone wrong in such a short time?
Lack of goals
Arsenal have been worryingly poor in goal this season. In fact, Liverpool striker Mo Salah has scored more goals in the Premier League than the entire Arsenal team.
Much of the Gunners’ lack of power is due to the failure of their star man, Aubameyang. Last season, Aubameyang scored 29 goals and was a talismanic figure. There was a lot of talk about whether Aubameyang would stay at the club and, in the end, Aubameyang signed a contract extension.
However, since signing the contract, the Gabonese forward has only scored 3 league goals. The contrast between Aubameyang’s form last season and his form this season is quite stark. He made a good start to the campaign, scoring an excellent goal against Fulham. But since then, he has only scored one goal in the league in open play.
Some may see Aubameyang’s poor form as paralleling playing for a struggling team. However, to tell the truth, Arsenal are struggling due to lack of goals from Aubameyang; not the other way.
A more ruthless way of looking at Aubameyang’s poor form is that he has stopped working so hard since he signed his £ 250K a week contract. It is unknown whether or not there is any truth to that. However, Aubameyang needs to start scoring goals again if Mikel Arteta is to maintain his position and if Arsenal are to remain in the division.
Lack of discipline
The layoffs from Arsenal this season have been quite petulant and unnecessary. But this is nothing new under Arteta as discipline has been a constant problem. It is an issue that the Spaniard must also address if he and Arsenal want to survive.
North Londoners have seen a number of players deliver their marching orders of late, with Nicolas Pepe, Granit Xhaka and Gabriel all dispatched for the first few baths. And, speaking before Everton, the Arsenal boss insisted that his team simply can’t afford to be dealing with red cards amid a spell in such worrying fashion:
‘I said the other day, I think we have had seven red cards since I joined and two are disciplinary and the rest have been for different actions. But at the moment we cannot afford it, because the level of the Premier League is too high and the margins for us at the moment are too small to win or lose football matches.
Arsenal cannot afford to suspend more players and Arteta knows it.
Lack of creativity
If only Arsenal had a world-class creative midfielder, wait, wait. Mesut Ozil’s decline at Arsenal is sad for any football fan. There is no doubt that in his day Ozil was simply one of the best players in world football. However, problems on and off the court combined for Mikel Arteta to cut ties with the German star. Ozil’s massive contract of £ 350K a week runs until the end of the season, when he will surely leave the club.
Yet Ozil is just the player Arsenal are crying out for, someone who can produce something special out of nowhere. And even if the German is past his prime, he’s still considerably better than Arsenal’s other options. Arteta is a stubborn man and is right not to include Ozil if the German is not doing his best in training. However, if Arteta managed to get Ozil into the team again and with a good performance, then there is no doubt that Arsenal could push themselves up the table.
Fans are asking for Ozil to get involved again and even though we don’t know what has been said behind the scenes, you would be willing to agree with Arsenal fans. Ozil is a wonderful footballer and if he could come back to the team, Arsenal would definitely start creating more opportunities. But, to be fair, this is highly unlikely and if that’s the case, Arsenal need to get stronger in January. Isn’t Eriksen interested in leaving Inter Milan?
Mikel Arteta is a brilliant young coach with a great future ahead of him. In general, the Spanish cannot be blamed. Arsenal are in this situation due to years of poor recruitment and now they rely on Aubameyang to rekindle last season’s form to survive.
Arsenal need to find something from somewhere, be it Ozil returning from the ashes or a January signing, otherwise Arteta will be unfairly fired.
It’s time for the players to side with North London and Arteta.