No wins in five league games, one goal in five, 15th on the table.
Do Arsenal keep pushing their top six ambition or relieve the mounting pressure by lowering their season goals and hold on for next summer’s revolution?
The players aren’t performing and the tactics still need improvement and fluidity. Arsenal’s last eight games in the league have accumulated one win, one draw and six losses. Scoring once in their last five league games and conceding eight.
Top four is a far faded view of a big challenge in the first place, and qualifying for Europa League is now slipping fast. Arsenal have the momentum of a bobsleigh on gravel.
On top of that, a tough and busy Christmas schedule is upon the club. Now could be the time for Arteta and the team to accept that through their poor performances and some bad tactical choices and selections so far, things aren’t going to get much better before it’s too late. There are no quick fixes.
Relieving the pressure of a top six finish, accepting a sub-par season, might actually be a step forward.
Fans should accept that as well, and Arteta needs to be crystal clear about what he needs in the upcoming two transfer windows. Player sales and recruitment in January and the summer is where change will come and it will decide Arteta and Edu’s fate, and Arsenal’s fate will be decided by the duo.
The club is a race car with the parts of a Volkswagen Beetle, and Arteta is the mechanic.
The manager revealed a lot in early December when he said the team is missing “the specificity in five or six positions” to play his preferred 4-3-3 system.
Almost exactly one year into his time at Arsenal, Arteta hasn’t got the players he needs and hasn’t managed to coach the players at his disposal into the players he wants.
Gabriel and Partey: Great signings. Willian: Atrocious. Mari and Cedric: Average. Runarsson: Not sure.
The new hierarchy has about a 50% success rate in the transfer window. Splashing the cash is working. Free players are free for a reason. The verdict on the Arteta and Edu transfer committee is still out but there is a head-scratching itch materialising.
To generate the cash to splash, though, Arsenal need to streamline the squad like they did their staff.
Luckily, Özil, Sokratis, Luiz, Mustafi and Ceballos, almost all peripheral players, are leaving the club next summer.
Lacazette, Chambers, Elneny and Kolasinac are players with one year left on their contracts next summer and might follow.
These players are the majority of the core of a team that has struggled under three managers: Wenger, Emery and Arteta. Non of these players have impressed with long-term form at any time, except for Özil. Newer signings like Tierney, Leno and Gabriel, alongside the younger players are the ones who are leading by performing on the pitch.
Part of the reason for the underwhelming, individual performances could well be that these players know they don’t have a future at the club.
Replacing this core with newer parts is what has to happen before Arsenal line up at the race track again. It’s a daunting task but half the work is done by expiring contracts.
Until then Arsenal fans should look away or accept the masochistic pain that will ensue, not until next season can this team take significant steps forward.
Is Arteta the right man?
This is a long-term project. Arteta has stated such as well and KSE and the executives.
The manager has made mistakes. Omitting Özil and Saliba. Trusting players that are continously letting him down. Abandoning the meritocrazy he implemented in his first few months at the club, when the players who played best continued to play.
But replacing Arteta, the guy who came in after Emery, sorted the team out and won two trophies, seems premature. And who would touch Arsenal at the moment? Even with gloves and a face mask…
Arteta’s managing career started onboard a sinking ship. His next challenge is replacing half his crew before taking on a new adventure.