Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can’t score, Mesut Ozil can’t play, and wonderkid William Saliba is sidelined – What’s going wrong with Arsenal under Mikel ......
Nov. 23, 2020
Arsenal’s dismal start to the Premier League season continued as they drew 0-0 with Leeds United.
It was a tough Sunday evening with the Gunners significantly outplayed, even before the second-half red card Nicolas Pepe received for a headbutt on Ezgjan Alioski.
Overall, they barely threatened the goal of Illan Meslier, with their inability to maintain an attacking threat over the course of 90 minutes now a very real issue
Their top scorer is Alexandre Lacazette, who has hit the back of the net just three times, and they have managed a total of only nine in the Premier League this season – the same amount Tottenham forward Heung-Min Son has by himself.
“The fact we need to score more goals, it’s a concern,” Arteta said . “We need goals and a lot of goals to win football matches to be the top team that we want to be. Without that it is impossible.
“It doesn’t matter how we are defensively.
“It’s not the lack of attacking players we have or the attacking players we are putting on the pitch, but we need some moments where we have to make better decisions and be more ruthless.
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“But it’s the most difficult thing in football and sometimes we go through these patches and we have to overcome. I have to help the players to overcome and do it as quickly as possible.”
Is scoring goals the only issue at the Emirates right now though?
It’s a little more complex than that with several other narratives seemingly affecting their start to the campaign. So, what is going wrong at Arsenal? talkSPORT.com have taken a look.
No attacking threat
Arsenal have managed just nine goals this season – the joint-fifth lowest in the Premier League along with Fulham – that’s how bad it’s looking at the moment.
Sure, they have had some tough fixtures. Liverpool, Man City, Manchester United and Leicester have all been played but so have four sides you associate with the bottom half of the table.
And let’s not forget three of the nine goals came on the opening day against the Cottagers, too.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, fresh off the back of his new bumper contract has only scored twice in the Premier League, and only managed one shot on target against Leeds, while the team in total only had two.
It says a lot when their most creative players were Hector Bellerin and substitute Bukayo Saka at Elland Road.
Even moving to a 4-2-3-1 for the match, away from Arteta’s previous 3-4-3, failed to trigger anything positive and this is becoming an urgent situation which needs to be rectified immediately.
A lack of discipline
Pepe’s red card was a selfish act which showed no real consideration about the situation Arsenal are in.
Caught up in the heat of the moment, he was unable to control himself and was perhaps fortunate his teammates managed to dig in and get a 0-0 draw out of the game.
The Ivorian’s dismissal was the Gunners’ FIFTH since Arteta took charge of the club late last December – that’s two more than any other Premier League side over the same period.
If the Gunners are serious about getting back into the top six this season then they really need to stop putting themselves at a disadvantage with foolish red cards.
This season they have not had too many yellow cards, which suggests it’s only moments of recklessness which are costing them dear.
Nicolas Pepe’s £70million transfer
Speaking of the winger, it’s a year-and-a-half into his time at Arsenal and we are still yet to consistently witness why the club spent so much on him.
When buying attackers from Ligue 1, it’s always wise to accept they won’t get as many goals and assists as they did in France. But even so, Pepe has now managed just six goals and six assists in 24 starts and 15 substitute appearances. It just isn’t good enough.
Over in north London, the benefits of giving a player both time to settle and a kick up the backside has worked wonders for Tottenham’s Tanguy Ndombele, and he’s now dazzling for Jose Mourinho.
Arteta really needs to use all his man management skills to bring the best out of his attacker or risk a huge loss on the player.
Mesut Ozil going rogue
When a player, earning £350,000-per-week, isn’t even in your squad for the Premier League this season, that’s pretty alarming.
When the player is then just tweeting about your games and getting into spats with famous fans of the club then there really is cause for concern.
This matter should have been dealt with in the summer with Ozil, one way or another, leaving the Emirates.
Instead we have a truly bizarre situation, especially when creativity is the one thing Arsenal are crying out for on the football pitch.
Willian international week issues
When the Brazilian was pictured in Dubai over the international break , it was expected he would be sanctioned for the travel, especially in a pandemic which saw him need to test negative for coronavirus before he could return to training.
Instead, the matter was seemingly brushed under the carpet by manager Arteta.
“I don’t confirm anything, that only it is an issue that has been resolved, explained and let’s move on,” the Spanish boss said prior to the match with Leeds.
“Whatever happens internally with any issues, or things that we don’t expect, always we will try them internally. That has been dealt with and explained, and we move on.”
Arteta did also hint at ‘personal factors’ but, even so, many believed Willian would be absent at the weekend.
He ended up starting the match, leaving many wondering why his ‘indiscretion’ had been treated differently to those of other players within the Arsenal squad.
Universally acclaimed for his performances with Saint-Etienne before and after his £27m switch to Arsenal, it seemed the French youngster would be fast-tracked into the first-team upon his return from the Ligue 1 side, with whom he spent last season on loan.
It appears personal issues may have affected the player but even so, the Gunners were unable to organise a beneficial loan return to Ligue 1.
Meanwhile, he wasn’t even included in Arsenal’s Europa League squad , further limiting his ability to progress as a footballer.
Arteta believes the player needs a ‘transition year’ but failing to get a deal done in the summer has just created a bad situation which must be resolved early in January.
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