Things that must change at Arsenal if we are going to return to the top
By Rob Worthington
Since Mikel Arteta’s homecoming, Arsenal have come on leaps and bounds with defensive performances in particular improving significantly. The team have found a consistent formation and structure which has provided stability, and thus limited opposition sides to few quality chances. Additionally, the ‘five-man’ frontline have shown glimpses of what they could produce in the future and the lads certainly look more confident, calm and motivated.
However, the results (two wins, three draws and one defeat) show that there are still glaring issues which need to addressed by Señor Arteta. Three areas of concern for the new boss are mentality, personnel and fitness.
If the fortunes of Arsenal are going to improve at all, the mindset of everyone at the club has to change, including the fans. Mediocrity must stop being applauded the way it is currently. For me, a mediocre performance is one where a player gives their all, plays solidly, but fails to demonstrate quality and have a significant impact on the game.
Yes, it is nice to see players running harder and seemingly playing for the badge, but this must turn into an expectation and the minimum that a player supplies to the team on a weekly basis. From this point onwards, the onus is on the players to give even more by consistently showing the fans and the manger their talents. In other words, the players, coaching staff and fans need to regain a winning mentality in order to help this club return to the top.
Unfortunately, Mikel Arteta can only do so much with our current squad. Very few players in our squad can be referred to as world-class anymore and there are certainly players who we over-reliant upon. Since he has joined the club, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has provided just under 50% of our goals and without him we look much less threatening on the front foot. Moreover, our midfield looks disjointed without the Torreira-Xhaka pivot and we have a severe lack of depth in the right-back area.
Dead wood needs to be removed and adequate replacements need to come in. With regard to the attack, we need to see goals dispersed throughout the team by introducing more players to the project with a taste for goal and we need to bring in midfielders who are better suited to our system. Of course, this is easier said than done and we’ll need to spend a fair amount of money in order to enforce such changes, but the clubs at the top of the league have shown that is the way to gain dominance in this day and age. Recruitment from those at board level must improve.
Our performances under our former captain thus far have exemplified that individual player fitness is a major issue. This has been portrayed in almost all of our games so far under the Spaniard. We have started the majority of our games strongly and began to wilt as the clock ticks down. This was shown most vividly against Chelsea at the Emirates. For large periods of the match, Arsenal dominated the game and clearly looked the better side. In fact, I would argue that Arsenal have looked like the better side in every game so far under Arteta which certainly wasn’t the case under Emery.
Regrettably, we are failing to convey superiority through our results. Through improving fitness mentally and physically, we’ll be able to maintain high-levels of performance throughout the game and this will lead to results accurately reflecting our level of performance.
I truly believe that if we can improve these three areas, Arsenal can once again become a force to be reckoned with.