Is the Arteta the right man for Arsenal?
By Edward Steel
Mikel Arteta’s 50th Premier League game in charge of Arsenal did not end as he would have hoped for, as his side lost 3-0 at home to Liverpool.
Diego Jota netted two and Mohammed Salah added to his Premier League goal tally to sink the Gunners hopes of a top six finish.
When interviewed after the game Arteta apologised to fans.
“Liverpool completely deserved to win the game, probably by a bigger margin. We were extremely poor. We apologise,” he told Sky Sports.
"Mikel Arteta" by Kieran Clarke is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“They made the right decisions, we didn’t. It is my fault. I have to set the team up to perform in a different way and that is it. he added, as he shielded players from any blame.
“Congratulations to Liverpool because they were exceptional today. That showed the difference between the two teams – that when they play at that level, the margin is incredibly high.
“I don’t have to use any excuses – that we don’t have five or six players – the standards are much higher at this football club and I have to get them to perform at that level. It was technical as well.
“We gave every ball away and could not put three passes together. The basics weren’t there today. If you do that against this kind of opponent, you get punished like we have.
Arteta took over as Arsenal manager from Unai Emery in December 2019 and won the FA Cup and Community Shield by the start of his second season.
However, Arteta's first 50 Premier League games at the Emirates have been anything but smooth for the Spaniard, who is attempting to improve his team's league place and has a WORSE record than previous managers Unai Emery and Arsene Wenger.
With a win percentage of 42, Arteta has won 21, drawn 12, and lost 17 of his first 50 PL games in charge. The statistics show that goals conceded, and clean sheets have improved with Arteta brining better shape and more solidity. However, the goals scored is significantly lower, the struggles in front of goal and lack of creativity at times have ultimately pushed the Gunners down the league.
Areta has struggled to identify his best attacking set up with constant changes and alterations. The most expensive front three in the league Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette started together against Liverpool for just the first time this season and given their failure to break down a resilient Liverpool backline, Arteta may well have paid the price for not playing the trio together more often and letting them build up a partnership.
Although Aubameyang has not been his usual self this PL campaign with only 9 goals in 25 appearances, this could be part of the reason Arsenal have struggled so much this season. In the previous two seasons the Gabon international was such a vital role in the team getting results and ultimately winning the FA Cup.
It has been the younger members of the squad who have taken the responsibility this season with the likes of Kieran Tierney, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe all featuring regularly and taking their chances in the first team, repaying Arteta’s faith in the youth.
Arteta's only chance of salvaging what has been a miserable first full season in charge is to win the Europa League. Winning the Europa League would guarantee Champions League football, which hasn’t been played at the Emirates since Bayern Munich’s 10-2 demolition job back in 2017.
Gaining a Champions League place would restore some faith for the Gunner’s fans after a disappointing PL campaign, which has caused some fans to question whether they should trust Arteta’s process or not?
Arsenal fell to tenth place in the Premier League table over the weekend and will have to bounce back on Thursday evening when they face Slavia Prague in the competition's last eight.