What is going wrong for Mikel Arteta and how much is he to blame for Arsenal's calamitous start to the season?
What is going wrong for Mikel Arteta and how much is he to blame for Arsenal's calamitous start to the season?
SPORT  |  Wed - December 16, 2020 9:51 am  |  Article Hits:673  |  A+ | a-
In the Premier League, Arteta has remained faithful to some of his experienced players despite their struggles in recent weeks. Much more was expected of a senior figure like Willian, for example, but the Brazilian has kept his place in the team after a series of disappointing performances. “He needs a little bit of time,” said technical director Edu of Willian. “He is training properly. His behaviour is top, as always. For me, it is just a question of timing.” Arteta has generally trusted Granit Xhaka, too. The midfielder was impressive and consistent at the start of Arteta’s tenure but he let his team down with his foolish red card against Burnley. It is a shame for Xhaka, who is seen as one of the few natural leaders within the squad, but clearly his work on the pitch needs to match his character off it. Granit Xhaka grabs Burnley's Ashley Westwood by the throat - GETTY IMAGES Granit Xhaka grabs Burnley's Ashley Westwood by the throat - GETTY IMAGES Hector Bellerin has also endured a painful few weeks, yet he has started every league game this season. He will miss Wednesday’s match against Southampton due to suspension, which is likely to give either Cedric Soares or Ainsley Maitland-Niles a chance at right-back. It can certainly be argued that these players should have been selected sooner. Although selection has been made more complicated by the relentless schedule, Arteta has not always been willing to reward impressive performances in the Europa League with starts in the Premier League. Perhaps he deems it too soon for some of the younger players. Indeed, the struggles of Joe Willock in the league, compared to his dominant performances in Europe, would no doubt deter Arteta from throwing in the young players all at once. Sam Dean's Arsenal briefing Sam Dean's Arsenal briefing Attacking struggles It has been a curious quirk of Arteta’s reign that his team have looked far better defensively than they have going forward. Few would have expected this from Pep Guardiola’s protégé when he was first appointed last year. One of the major successes of Arteta’s start at the club was his ability to solidify the defence, and that newfound resilience was the key to their FA Cup triumph. But it has come at a cost, with Arsenal struggling horribly for creative expression at the other end of the pitch.
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