It’s been a bumpy road for Arsenal this season and Mikel Arteta in particular. Having been thrown in the deep end last December, the former Gunners skipper has had all manner of issues to resolve. He inherited a failing, demotivated side with a fractured team spirit, full of apathy and animosity.
It was clear to him from the day that he arrived that the job was enormous and that it would take two or three years and as many transfer windows to deliver success. In his first half-season, it was almost inevitable that Arsenal would finish outside the top four last season and although some thought the side should have finished higher than the 8th spot, it was never a realistic proposition.
The Arsenal manager has had the praise of many inside football circles for his ability to rebuild confidence and unity. Mikel Arteta has been credited with making Arsenal more competitive, organised and coherent but despite winning two trophies, some are starting to express their doubts about the revolution.
Some are pointing at the body posture of the Arsenal players, the apparent lack of ambition and commitment, and obviously, the performances and results. So are there unforeseen problems going on? Is Arteta finding resistance in the dressing room?
Some believe that there’s something not quite right, but there’s nothing like a series of victories to put smiles on faces and inject a skip back into the step. Of course, the team isn’t fluent and there are problems in key areas especially in midfield, where Arsenal lack creativity and that’s probably the biggest area of concern for Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu.
If let’s say, Kevin De Bruyne were introduced into this group, a player of that calibre would solve a multitude of issues, purely with his vision and quality. If there was any mistake made over the summer it was by not securing an attacking midfielder.
Lack of goals, lack of service, and series of demoralising losses, all lead to the same oversight in planning. It’s not so much of an oversight, more that the club didn’t have the finances in place to get a deal done for Aouar. Believe me that a midfielder will be drafted either in January or in the summer and rumours persist that Edu is already in discussions with RB Salzburg midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai.
It’s the obvious missing piece from Arteta’s puzzle, but I don’t believe he and his players are at odds. So, it’s a case of struggling together through adversity to get to the other side. There are players in situ that aren’t long term or of the quality required to compete at the top level. It’s not a surprise, we knew that already. I still think we’ll get there, but it’s going to take time.