With Arsenal’s crunch Europa League second leg with Villareal fast approaching it may be time to take a look at the Arteta tenure so far. Unai Emery will be looking to inflict defeat on his former club and perhaps the final nail in Arteta’s coffin.
A blistering end to the COVID affected 2019/20 season saw Arteta pick up an FA Cup. A brighter dawn looked to be on the horizon. However 13 league defeats so far this season have turned optimism into disillusionment.
Mikel Arteta came to Arsenal under a shrowd of uncertainty. Up until that point he had been a very good assistant to Pep Guardiola at a Man City. The side that had broken several premier league records over the preceeding seasons.
At that time Allegri and Ancellotti had been linked, with the latter heading to Everton instead. Arsenal however decided to go down the same route as Manchester United and Chelsea. This was a young, hungry manager who had enjoyed a good rapport with the fans.
Arteta and the Process
Since the FA Cup win things seem to have gone from bad to worse for Arsenal. A poor run of form heading into the Christmas period had left a lot of fans wondering if they could look forward to a relegation battle.
Since the turn of the year however the main focus has been a Europa league run that has provided some silver lining.
Arteta will no doubt be a very good manager in the future. This could be the ultimate example of a job just being too big for someone so green. There is a strange loyalty among the Arsenal faithful to keep believing but if knocked out by Emery the ice beneath Arteta’s feet may begin to crack.
The away goal in Spain has been seen by some as a get out of jail free card. But starting as they did last Thursday is not an option.
Part of the problem has been that Arteta does not seem to know his best team. A defence often given for him has been that he needs time to bring in his own players. Arteta has bought in 6 players so far, which just so happens to be the same amount as the overacheiving David Moyes at West Ham. Some of his signings have been lourded one minute and then loathed the next. Thomas Partey is a great example of this, as well as Dani Ceballos.
The positives of Arteta’s reign so far has been the emergence of Emile Smith-Rowe. It does not bode well for the Spaniard that this emergence was not one that came from an eye for talent but more a need to cover vast injuries. Smith-Rowe came in and provided an imputus to the team that has since fallen away as a result of Odegaard coming in on loan.
This to me was another failure by the Arsenal manager to recognise the potential he had in front of him. Arteta has now been at the helm for 18 months and ‘the process’ is wearing thin.
The worrying thing for Arsenal fans is the gap between them and 11th. This is less than the gap between the Gunners and 8th, their final position last season.
Mid table mediocrity two seasons in a row for a club of such stature has to be seen as unacceptable. To my mind Arteta should thank his lucky stars that there are no fans in stadiums.
If by 10 O’clock on Thursday evening Villareal have been victorious and Unai Emery has reigned supreme over his former employers, questions over Arteta will undoubtedly be asked.
They may give him the summer but if what I suspect is true, by Christmas time Arsenal could be back with a more experienced manager in charge.