Where Should Fingers Be Pointed?
Mikel Arteta is bearing the brunt of the criticism. After all, it is his outfit that managed a measly one shot in their 5-0 thrashing at Manchester City last weekend.
The reading doesn’t get much better when you look across the season so far, with Arsenal’s expected goals (xG) the second lowest in the division at just 1.9, ahead of only Crystal Palace.
It’s somewhat ironic that there’s an Arsenal legend in Patrick Vieira at the reins of the team with a worse xG (1.5), but at least his Eagles side have scored twice.
Arteta, who has lost losing 21 of his 61 top-flight matches in charge of the Gunners, has been backed heavily this summer.
Arsenal are the top-spenders in the division, with £129million forked out for Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Ben White, Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale.
Of course, all these new faces will need time to adapt to their new surroundings, with the exception of Odegaard, who had a positive loan spell at the Emirates at the tail end of last season.
Some negative attention is also being focused on the club’s technical director, Edu.
The Brazilian, who had a four-year playing spell under Wenger at Highbury, was appointed back in July 2019, to oversee everything from the medical department to scouting and analytics, alongside Arteta.
The pair are jointly responsible for the direction Arsenal are currently looking to take, which is why they are coming under so much scrutiny.
Why Such A Slow Start?
Arsenal were dealt a tough hand for their opening fixture, when COVID-19 ruled out both first-choice forwards Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
This led to chaos ahead of the short trip to Brentford, with the club ultimately having to hand hot prospect Folarin Balogun a Premier League debut, alongside fellow youngster Gabriel Martinelli up front.
Ben White was then sidelined with the virus for their games against Chelsea and Manchester City, which – alongside Gabriel Magalhaes and Thomas Partey’s injury-enforced absences – means Arteta has only ever been able to field a makeshift starting XI this season.
Will It Get Better?
On paper, the Gunners have a favourable run of matches on the other side of the international break.
Fixtures against Norwich City, Burnley and Brighton & Hove Albion await, but slapped in the middle of those is the visit of North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Spurs’ start has been the polar opposite to that of the Gunners, with a 100% record and no goals conceded.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side will be relishing a trip to the Emirates, but would rather it came much sooner than September 26.
Will Arteta Be Given Time?
It is highly unlikely that the former Everton midfielder will lose his job during the international break.
After all, this is his squad now, having had the whole transfer window to bring in the players both he and Edu wanted.
It’s also not the first time Arteta has been under real pressure – the Gunners went on an awful run ahead of the festive period last year and he was backed publicly, as well as behind closed doors.
Seeing #ArtetaOut trending on social media after matches is a common occurrence, but is something that’s unlikely to bother the Arsenal hierarchy.
There will be a reluctance to part ways with Pep Guardiola’s former assistant, as it would mean another whole new change of direction.
With Edu so intrinsically linked to this squad, he too would likely be forced to depart and the Gunners would be back to square one.
Arteta has time on his side, but the Arsenal board’s patience won’t last forever. A positive result is needed in North London, and quickly.