All is not well in the Arsenal camp. The Gunners have had their worst start to the Premier League ever and lost 8 of their first 15 games in the Premier League for a woeful 17 points as they sit 15th in the Premier League table.
A lot of people blame the manager – Mikel Arteta for Arsenal’s problems. You cannot help but fault him in this situation. Arsene Wenger – Arsenal’s most successful manager, finished in the top 4 with Arsenal in every season barring his last two. In 2016/17, the Gunners finished 5th with 75 points and in the following season, his team managed only 63 points which was the lowest points tally under his reign. This ended up being Wenger’s last season with the club as they finished 6th.
Arsenal brought in Unai Emery after the end of the Arsene Wenger era and he had a decent first season in the Premier League as they finished 5th and on 70 points. 7 points better off than the previous season. However, he had a torrid start to his second year as Arsenal looked lackluster and managed only 18 points from 13 Premier League games as the Spanish manager was given the sack.
Mikel Arteta, one of Arsenal’s great players, took over the job and he made Arsenal fans around the world optimistic. It came at a time when 2 other of their competitors – Chelsea and Manchester United also had former club legends at the helm with Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taking charge, respectively. The Spaniard was in charge for 20 Premier League games in 2019/20 and they managed to finish 8th. Arteta’s side managed to pick up 1.65 points per match (PPM), which was still unfortunately lower than Arsene Wenger’s worst season as manager with the club (2017/18) where his team averaged 1.66 PPM over the 38 games.
One major key though is that Arteta led Arsenal to the FA Cup in his first season. They also beat Liverpool in the FA Community Shield on penalties before the start of the season. The Gunners were beating the big teams back-to-back so there were high standards set basis the finish of last season. However, things did not go as planned for the team from North London starting the Premier League season as they are close to relegation and stuck in the bottom half of the table than the top.
Arteta’s record must come into question. So far, in the 35 Premier League games in charge, he has won just 14 but lost 13 as well! This is, at best, a mid-table team record. Arsenal has struggled to score goals and evidence of that is the fact that they have only netted 47 times in these 35 games. Their defensive woes still stand as well having conceded 40 goals during this time.
It is fair to compare him to his counterparts in Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard although it may be a bit unfair to use Chelsea as comparison given the lavish spending that the England star was allowed this transfer market as the Londoners spent over $320 million on strengthening their squad.
Frank Lampard’s star-studded line-up has failed to win a Premier League game against any side in the top 10 so far this season but he does not seem to be getting the same amounts of flak as Arsenal who are clearly a side that lack quality. Having said that, Chelsea and Manchester United finished ahead of Arsenal last season. Both finished on 66 points with United pipping Chelsea for 3rd on goal difference.
Arteta’s 1.65 PPM was significantly lower in his first season as he joined midway through as compared to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who managed 1.90 PPM in his first season after Jose Mourinho was sacked by United.
United sit pretty on the table looking to go 2nd and Chelsea have been underwhelming but still are 8th currently 8 points ahead of Arsenal.
Arsenal’s overreliance on superstar, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is evident when it comes to goals and their defensive woes continue. Bernd Leno, although a terrific goalkeeper, has the worst clean sheet record ever for a goalkeeper at Arsenal and that is for no fault of his own. He averages a clean sheet every 4 games! This perfectly highlights the problems at the back. There is a lot of deadwood in players like Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis. There have been puzzling moves in the transfer market with signing older players like David Luiz and Willian on 3-year contracts.
Things are not looking good for the North Londoners but one wonders if the manager is to be blamed or is there just a lack of quality that could potentially make Arsenal a top 4 team once again. The player recruitment by Edu has been put under the scanner and rightfully so. However, Arteta did bring in Thomas Partey and Gabriel. They are lacking a pure central attacking midfielder with Mesut Ozil being omitted from the squad and the Arsenal manager will be keen on finding a player to fit into that role soon.
There are mixed reactions to Mikel Arteta at the helm amongst Arsenal fans themselves but maybe fan expectations need to drop and it is time they were a little more realistic about the chances of Arsenal being a team that can challenge for European football at the moment.
Are you “Arteta IN” or “Arteta OUT”?