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Mikel Arteta eased the pressure on his shoulders as Arsenal hammered a second-string West Brom side in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a hat-trick, with further goals from Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette restoring some confidence at the club.
The thumping win came after back-to-back 2-0 defeats in the Premier League which have laid bare Arsenal’s weaknesses.
Those deficiencies exist in spite of the £130million the club has spent in the transfer window this summer to recruit five new players.
The problem for Arteta is that defending champions Manchester City await in the Premier League this weekend and that he is currently the heavy favourite to be the next top flight manager to be sacked.
Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers and ex-Bournemouth coach Eddie Howe are the favourites with the bookies to take over in that eventuality.
If that does come to pass, here are the main issues facing them.
1. Sort the defence out
The Gunners shelled out £50m to sign Ben White from Brighton this summer but the addition of one big-money player is yet to make a difference.
Arsenal were pulled apart by Brentford’s front two, Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo, on the opening day of the season and completely dismantled by Chelsea last weekend.
White, Pablo Mari and Rob Holding have been far from convincing, while right-back remains a hugely problematic position.
Calum Chambers and Cedric Soares have played there so far, with Hector Bellerin trying to force an exit from the club, but none have made the position their own.
A new manager would need to quickly decide on his first-choice personnel and drill them repeatedly on the training pitch.
2. Get Aubameyang firing
Aubameyang made a very welcome comeback with a hat-trick against West Brom and Arsenal fans will be hoping for more of the same in the coming weeks and months.
The 32-year-old picked up two rebounds before curling in a trademark finish at the Hawthorns – and he must build on those strikes.
Aubameyang was disappointing last season, scoring just 10 Premier League goals compared to his 22 in the previous campaign.
As captain and the leader of an inconsistent forward line, he needs to step up alongside fellow senior players Lacazette and Pepe.
What is Arsenal's biggest problem at the moment? Have your say in the comments section below.
3. Ditch the banter club stereotype
When Jamie O’Hara is taking the mickey out of your club, you know you have problems.
“They are Banter FC right now,” O’Hara said ontalkSPORTlast week. “They are Banter FC!”
The galling thing is that his opinion is a widely-held one. Arsenal have been underperforming for years now and Arteta has done little to change the club’s image of a flagging giant.
The stakes have been raised by the recent expenditure in the transfer window. There are no longer any excuses: Arsenal need to show they are a serious club with serious ambitions.
4. Get back into Europe
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The Europa League was often derided as a secondary competition of little interest. It used to be Champions League or nothing when Arsene Wenger was in charge.
Wenger oversaw 19 successive seasons of Champions League qualification between 1998/99 and 2016/17. The Gunners failed to even reach the Europa League, or the newly-founded Europa Conference League, for the 2021/22 season.
That is a huge failure and should be a source of immense embarrassment, not a cause for celebration.
Qualifying for Europe should be a bare minimum for a club like Arsenal.
5. Woo Kroenke
While there are clearly wider issues surrounding Arsenal’s ownership, which came to a head after the failed European Super League, a new manager would undoubtedly need to woo owner Stan Kroenke to be successful.
Kroenke is wildly unpopular with fans but he has at least loosened the purse strings this summer after a hugely disappointing 2020/21 campaign.
Arsenal need financial backing to return to where they once were. If Kroenke is serious about restoring the club to its former glory then he would need to help bridge the gap.
Sweet talking the American billionaire would be time well spent for a new boss.
- Champions League
- Premier League
- Europa League
- Arsenal FC
- Mikel Arteta
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