Arsenal

Arsenal are going backwards! Mikel Arteta’s position should be called into question after latest loss as toothless Gunners once again pay for his transfer choices

The north London club’s abysmal recent run continued against Liverpool in the FA Cup, and the spotlight should be on the manager

Merit-wise, there is no question that we deserve to win the games, but the results are very different,” Mikel Arteta said after Arsenal’s 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool on Sunday. “But when my team plays with that courage and attitude against probably the best team in Europe right now in terms of momentum, what can I do but stick by them and support them?”

 

Arsenal are going backwards! Mikel Arteta’s position should be called into question after latest loss as toothless Gunners once again pay for his transfer choices

The north London club’s abysmal recent run continued against Liverpool in the FA Cup, and the spotlight should be on the manager

“Merit-wise, there is no question that we deserve to win the games, but the results are very different,” Mikel Arteta said after Arsenal’s 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool on Sunday. “But when my team plays with that courage and attitude against probably the best team in Europe right now in terms of momentum, what can I do but stick by them and support them?”

The Gunners have now lost three successive games, after also being humbled by West Ham and Fulham in the Premier League, and another clear route to silverware has been closed off. And no matter what Arteta might believe, Liverpool are deservedly in the hat for the FA Cup fourth round.

A grand total of 16 chances went begging for Arsenal in the heavyweight tie, with Kai Havertz spurning the best of them during a one-sided first half. Inevitably, Liverpool gradually upped their game in the second period, and showed the clinical edge their opponents were lacking by scoring two late goals.

 

Arsenal are going backwards! Mikel Arteta’s position should be called into question after latest loss as toothless Gunners once again pay for his transfer choices

The north London club’s abysmal recent run continued against Liverpool in the FA Cup, and the spotlight should be on the manager

“Merit-wise, there is no question that we deserve to win the games, but the results are very different,” Mikel Arteta said after Arsenal’s 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool on Sunday. “But when my team plays with that courage and attitude against probably the best team in Europe right now in terms of momentum, what can I do but stick by them and support them?”

The Gunners have now lost three successive games, after also being humbled by West Ham and Fulham in the Premier League, and another clear route to silverware has been closed off. And no matter what Arteta might believe, Liverpool are deservedly in the hat for the FA Cup fourth round.

A grand total of 16 chances went begging for Arsenal in the heavyweight tie, with Kai Havertz spurning the best of them during a one-sided first half. Inevitably, Liverpool gradually upped their game in the second period, and showed the clinical edge their opponents were lacking by scoring two late goals.

Article continues below

Pressed on whether his squad are developing a psychological issue in front of goal, Arteta added: “Probably it has. That’s why I think we need to reset.” The Spaniard isn’t running away from Arsenal’s main problem, but he does seem oblivious to the fact it is a result of his poor choices in the transfer market.

Arteta was given license to spend over £200 million ($254m) in the summer, but the players he brought in haven’t made Arsenal any better. In actual fact, the Gunners are now clearly going backwards under Arteta, who should count himself lucky that he’s not under more pressure.

Arsenal’s season is in danger of going down the drain, and the blame has to fall on the manager. For all the progress made in terms of playing style during Arteta’s tenure, they are no closer to any tangible rewards, and it’s unlikely that the January transfer window will provide a timely boost.

Arsenal are going backwards! Mikel Arteta’s position should be called into question after latest loss as toothless Gunners once again pay for his transfer choice

The north London club’s abysmal recent run continued against Liverpool in the FA Cup, and the spotlight should be on the manager

“Merit-wise, there is no question that we deserve to win the games, but the results are very different,” Mikel Arteta said after Arsenal’s 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool on Sunday. “But when my team plays with that courage and attitude against probably the best team in Europe right now in terms of momentum, what can I do but stick by them and support them?”

The Gunners have now lost three successive games, after also being humbled by West Ham and Fulham in the Premier League, and another clear route to silverware has been closed off. And no matter what Arteta might believe, Liverpool are deservedly in the hat for the FA Cup fourth round.

A grand total of 16 chances went begging for Arsenal in the heavyweight tie, with Kai Havertz spurning the best of them during a one-sided first half. Inevitably, Liverpool gradually upped their game in the second period, and showed the clinical edge their opponents were lacking by scoring two late goals.

Article continues below

Pressed on whether his squad are developing a psychological issue in front of goal, Arteta added: “Probably it has. That’s why I think we need to reset.” The Spaniard isn’t running away from Arsenal’s main problem, but he does seem oblivious to the fact it is a result of his poor choices in the transfer market.

Arteta was given license to spend over £200 million ($254m) in the summer, but the players he brought in haven’t made Arsenal any better. In actual fact, the Gunners are now clearly going backwards under Arteta, who should count himself lucky that he’s not under more pressure.

Arsenal’s season is in danger of going down the drain, and the blame has to fall on the manager. For all the progress made in terms of playing style during Arteta’s tenure, they are no closer to any tangible rewards, and it’s unlikely that the January transfer window will provide a timely boost.

Kai Havertz Arsenal 2023-24Getty Images
Havertz & Raya over a proper striker?!
Arsenal came agonisingly close to winning their first Premier League title in 19 years last season, with Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard admirably sharing the main goalscoring burden amid Gabriel Jesus’ struggles for fitness.

In the end, the difference between the Gunners and eventual champions Manchester City was Erling Haaland’s presence in Pep Guardiola’s line-up. City scraped a number of wins without playing at their best purely because the Norwegian was in the right place to make a decisive contribution, but Arsenal didn’t have that luxury.

When the Gunners’ star attacking trio inevitably ran out of steam, so too did their title push. Yes, they were also hampered by the injury-enforced absence of William Saliba at the back, but it seemed like a no-brainer for Arteta to target a proper No.9 in order to take his side to the next level.

Instead, he made Havertz his priority target, and Arsenal successfully negotiated a £65m ($82m) deal with Chelsea. The languid German had just endured his worst season yet at Stamford Bridge, but Arteta decided he was the right man to come in and replace outgoing midfield general Granit Xhaka.

Securing a goalkeeping upgrade was also deemed to be more important than going for a new striker, with Arteta drafting in David Raya on loan from Brentford. Predictably, those two signings have since proven to be huge missteps.

Havertz has looked like a fish out of water when playing in Xhaka’s old spot on the left of Arsenal’s midfield three. He’s also underwhelmed when filling in through the middle, with his lack of killer instinct clear for all to see once again during Sunday’s loss to Liverpool.

Raya, meanwhile, has been every bit as error-prone as Ramsdale, with his poor distribution and positioning often putting Arsenal on the backfoot. Arteta wasted resources and time on two players that have done nothing to improve the team, and the Gunners have actually fallen further behind City as a result.

Never one to mince words, the polarising TalkTV journalist and life-long Arsenal supporter Piers Morgan captured the mood of the entire fanbase when tweeting after the Liverpool game: “We didn’t need a new goalkeeper, and we definitely didn’t need Havertz for £67m. We need a proper striker. This awful run is on you @m8arteta – stop being so stubborn and sign someone who can score goals, or our whole season will be over very soon

Arteta paying the price
With Arteta currently unable to rely on Jesus, supporters are clamouring for Arsenal to dip into the January market for another striker. The Gunners were strongly linked with Napoli’s Victor Osimhen last summer, and have been mooted as the leading contenders to sign Brentford’s Ivan Toney, who is approaching the end of his eight-month suspension for breaching betting rules.

The problem is, Arsenal would likely have to spend £80m ($102m) or more to sign one of those frontmen. That’s money that they simply do not have after coming so close to reaching the Financial Fair Play limit in 2023.

“At the moment it does not look realistic,” Arteta said when asked if the Gunners could bolster their attacking ranks this month. “What my job is and what we have to do is improve our players and try to get better results with the players we have.”

A temporary deal could still be arranged, but Arsenal are unlikely to find the match-winner they so desperately need in the loan market. Arteta blew the bulk of the club’s budget and must now deal with consequences.

He will now have to decide whether to persist with Havertz upfront, or give Eddie Nketiah another chance to prove himself until Jesus is back in the fold. Either way, it seems probable that Arsenal’s profligacy in the final third will continue when the Premier League gets back underway.

Arteta might just be regretting his decision to offload Folarin Balogun, who looked sharp in pre-season before being sold to Monaco. At the very least, the United States attacker would have given the Arsenal boss another option, and he may even have exceeded expectations given he has already recorded seven goal contributions in 14 Ligue 1 outings for his new club.

Related Articles