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Arteta Under Intense Pressure And Unforgiving Scrutiny With Only One Way Forward Now

Amazon, Mikel Arteta, West Ham, Arsenal, rethink, Christmas

Confidence is like a room full of steam, it takes ages to build up but open a window slightly and it rapidly disappears. Winning also creates a belief in the manager who’s ultimately responsible for the tactics of the team. However, when wins are in short supply and nothing seems to arrest the decline, the players start to ask questions about the man in charge. Are Arsenal about to condemn Mikel Arteta to the ranks of the unemployed?

Well, let’s be clear here, it’s a results business and if Arsenal are stuck at the bottom of the table indefinitely, then they become less marketable to potential investors. If the players and fans are at odds with the manager’s approach, then time is unquestionably in short supply and it will be a case of when and not if.

Mikel Arteta appears to be committed to his task and direction, but he has to be flexible and inventive if Arsenal are to collectively turn the corner quickly. Arsene Wenger was known to be prone to periods of stubbornness and it eventually caught up with him and cost him dearly, will the Spaniard follow suit?

Let’s look a little deeper at this situation. Wenger couldn’t stop the rot with a wealth of experience at his disposal, so how is Mikel Arteta supposed to be able to deal with a highly pressurised situation?

In football, with crowds allowed back, there’s a sense of growing dissatisfaction from a basic football perspective and Arteta needs to think incredibly clearly at this point. At this moment in time, he has the loneliest job on the planet with few friends, a growing number of dissenting voices and with time in short supply.

Mikel Arteta
Image Obtained via Caught Offside

Time may be the one factor that is against him the most, with 6 points in 5 games (at the time of writing), 2 goals, 9 against and the club firmly rooted to the bottom half of the Premier League table, there is little patience to be found, especially from fans who have waited to so long to attend live matches.

It’s well documented that high-level stress situations can affect one’s ability to make decisions by believing in the positives of an outcome when the evidence suggests that a negative result is more likely. The most notable example of stress almost breaking a man are the two incidents that befell Kevin Keegan.

The first was in 1996 as manager of Newcastle when reacting to an Alex Ferguson barb. The second was when Keegan walked away from the Wembley turf as England manager for the last time after a 0-1 loss to Germany in 2000. Kevin Keegan found his breakpoint twice in his career, once when Newcastle were flying in the Premier League and looked overwhelming favourites to win the trophy, and then under the weight of English expectations.

It’s not a weakness to admit defeat, Keegan was an honourable man with many great qualities but he knew his limitations and when it was time to get out. Unable to change or adapt, the person he was, he decided that it was better for all concerned to leave the field of battle and more importantly, for the benefit of his own well being.

Mikel Arteta is starting to make several irrational decisions such as loaning Saliba for yet another season when he is better than the majority of what he has. Of persisting with players way below the quality needed in the Premier League or offering them extensions (Xhaka), misplaced loyalty is a clear sign of clouded thinking.

The defensive combinations make no sense whatsoever, his choice of systems and insistence on uncomfortably playing out from the back also raises many questions. He has also shown misplaced loyalty to players to the detriment of his team by excluding Pepe for Willian, playing Cedric instead of a fit Bellerin, constantly insisting on the services of Xhaka and pairing Mari with Holding who lack any sort of pace between them.

Then there’s Chambers, the enigma that is neither central defender nor right-back, whose inconsistency should be enough to ease him through the door whilst holding hands with Elneny, who at 26 years of age, is unlikely to get any better. Then there’s the treatment of Martinelli who looked like the only player capable of hurting Manchester City in a cup match until he was unceremoniously hacked down.

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Mikel Arteta, it appears, has much to learn and little time to do it. He has to get results and show that the team can perform at the highest level or offer a spirited performance that gives the fans something. 18 months into the process and it looks less defined than before, the football isn’t easy to watch and the enjoyment levels are few and far between.

It’s become so bad that I remember jumping out of my chair because Tierney took the ball forward with purpose against Chelsea, aggressively thundering down the pitch with real intent. It came to nothing like the general performance, but it was the only thing to be excited about. That says it all. Arsenal are near the bottom of the Premier League and Arteta is on the brink.

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The Highbury Flyer
Anti Kroenke , anti Gazidis but always a gooner. Still wishes he could watch from the stands at the Highbury library.

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