I’m just going to throw it out there. I know players individually go through low periods and a loss of form, whether they are world-class internationals or a level or so below that standard. It happens and it’s half expected, especially with the demands of the modern game and so many matches at club and European level.
Then, there are the additional duties some players have on the international stage. Flying off to far-flung corners of the globe during the week only to feature again for their club at the weekend.
In terms of Arsenal’s performances, it’s not the form of one player that is in question, it’s a handful. It’s fairly unusual for collective performances to be so poor unless the problem is significantly deeper than it appears, so what could this dip be down to.
Poor Quality Players:
Arsenal had a weak squad before Mikel Arteta arrived, but he has also had injuries befall players that could have had some impact on the season such as Martinelli, Mari, and Partey. It may be a case that the players at his disposal aren’t able to play the way the manager wants – good players adapt, poor players play poorly and play poorly often.
Problems With Tactics And Formation:
This could be an issue but having seen Arteta succeed last season and the early part of this campaign with two trophies in eight weeks, are those same players unable to carry out the same types of instruction from the same manager? It sounds odd doesn’t it, if it worked before, why isn’t it working now.
Problems Communicating With Players:
That’s not even an issue here, Arteta speaks several languages and is known to hold individual and group sessions with players.
Has Arteta Lost His Way:
A series of devastating results can impact even the strongest manager. Losses can cloud a manager’s judgement in times of desperation. I’m not saying that’s the cause but just look at Wenger’s inability to get his side back on track after they went in a losing run in 2018. It eventually cost him his job because he just couldn’t get the players performing how he wanted.
A Rift Between Players And Arteta:
This is now an uncomfortable territory because the modern players have so much collective power that a manager can find himself isolated quite quickly. Arteta has had spats with players and the players themselves have clashed in training, none of which makes happy reading.
This could be through frustration in the results or simmering tensions between individuals or groups. I know that Arsenal took steps to find out who informed the press of the training ground bust-up between Luiz and Ceballos. There are suggestions that it was more than just an isolated incident and that the club wanted the situation to be kept out of the tabloids. If Arteta is losing the players and I’m not suggesting that but if he is, there’s only one outcome.
Tensions From The Ozil Exclusion:
Players form tight bonds and sometimes a situation that involves a popular player can have an impact on the team’s mood. It’s unlikely that this situation is purely based on the exclusion of the German number 10, although his omission might be more baffling to the likes of Aubameyang and Lacazette who are devoid of service and goals.
It’s not unthinkable that even the best players in the world occasionally suffer from low confidence. Aubameyang’s goal drought is certainly partly down to confidence and partly down to poor service. Pepe could be another in that category, but he may be turning a corner after recent performances indicate some genuine improvement.
When results are poor, the collective confidence of a team and their confidence in each other disappears extremely quickly. It’s like a room full of steam, it takes ages to build up but open a window slightly and it’s gone.
Whatever the reasons for Arsenal hovering just above the relegation zone, it needs to be resolved swiftly after the worst start to a season in 39 years. Defeat to Burnley at the Emirates is now unthinkable.
Arsenal and Arteta have to win that game to put some daylight between themselves and the other sides in the zone including Fulham, who are favourites for the drop but have recently found some semblance of form. They are just six points behind the Gunners! Digest that.