Arteta’s next crucial test is the Everton vs Arsenal fixture. The Gunners visit Goodison Park tonight to face the Toffees, which promises to be an exciting Premier League fixture and certainly a stern test for Arteta.
Mikel Arteta has had a hell of a year. Firstly, he inherited a side devoid of cohesive quality and which came with one or two dysfunctional players. Then, there was Covid-19 but the Spaniard managed to work with what he had, and under incredibly difficult circumstances, he made what little he had, go a long, long way.
But, since unexpectedly picking up trophies against top opposition, Arteta’s magic has started to fade and he finds himself under intense pressure almost every match when the result isn’t a win. He now faces his former club at Goodison Park where he occupied the midfield for six years and unfortunately for him, Everton are in good form. The way this tends to work is that Arsenal get vested by a former player such as Walcott at Southampton and now, it’s the turn of Alex Iwobi.
This Arsenal side is battered and bruised, it lacks an identity and gets confused very easily. There hasn’t been a single match after the opening day at Fulham, where they have seemed able to compete with the clubs at the top, in the middle, or at the bottom of the Premier League.
Let’s say it like it is shall we, this is the first time in many years where Arsenal supporters should be genuinely worried about the final result. Everton began their campaign well but spluttered slightly after heading to the summit of the division.
They have since got back on track with wins at Chelsea and Leicester, having scored 8 goals in 5 matches and conceded 4. The threat isn’t contained to one or two players with, Everton’s quality evenly spread throughout.
Calvert-Lewin may be the talk of Merseyside for his goals, but Richarlison is a menace on his day, and Sigurdsson and Doucoure can split the Arsenal lines and provide the chances.
Then there’s Iwobi if he plays. He will be super pumped to prove a point in the Everton vs Arsenal game and determined to give Tierney or Bellerin the run around down either flank.
We can talk tactics and formations but at the end of the day, what’s needed here is guts and grit. This assortment of mismatched players haven’t shown any ability to combine. The service at the top end is desperate and the creativity minimal and one can only see an Arsenal goal coming from a moment of unexpected genius or an unfortunate mistake.
Arteta needs to help himself because if he’s waiting for divine intervention or Lady Luck to smile in his direction, his side could be in the bottom three at Christmas. He needs to be bold, he needs to push his players, rid them of complacency, and get results.
Arsenal will need to cut out space where Everton could hurt them and that will be down the flanks. Calvert-Lewin will occupy the defenders but that allows someone else to profit, so the Gunners will have to be on their toes.
Above all, no more red cards and no allowing the Everton vs Arsenal game to get beyond them. As a result, I’m going to suggest a team that will probably not even be close to the one that steps out at Goodison Park, but it’s one I feel would give us a fighting chance.
Preferred Team: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Mari, Tierney; Ceballos, Smith Rowe, Saka; Pepe, Aubameyang, Martinelli/Balogun.
Result: I’m genuinely not sure, it depends on which Arsenal shows up.