Arsenal have slumped to their worst start in almost 40 years after their FIFTH defeat in just 10 Premier League games… a year on from sacking Unai Emery and despite a bright start and an FA Cup – they are back to SQUARE ONE under Mikel Arteta
- Arsenal fell to their fifth defeat in 10 Premier League matches on Sunday night
- The Gunners went down 2-1 against Wolves at the Emirates in Premier League
- The defeat highlighted that Arsenal are back to square one under Mikel Arteta
- Sunday signalled a full year since Unai Emery was sacked as Gunners manager
Arsenal’s woeful start to the Premier League season continued on Sunday night after going down to Wolves, and any last glimmers of optimism are quickly vanishing under Mikel Arteta.
The Gunners were consigned to their fifth defeat of the Premier League season after just 10 matches following their 2-1 loss against Wolves – who were also struggling for form – at the Emirates.
It has signalled Arsenal’s worst start to a league campaign since 1981, when they picked up a mere 12 points compared with this season’s 13.
Mikel Arteta has plenty of thinking to do to turn Arsenal’s fortunes around after a dismal run
Unai Emery was sacked by Arsenal a year ago yesterday following a woeful run of results
While Arteta has made Arsenal much more compact in defence, up top they are void of any creativity and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is enduring a horrible slump in form which is hugely alarming for the fans.
The Gunners have scored just 10 times in 10 games – with only the bottom four netting fewer.
After their FA Cup triumph which was then backed up by their Community Shield success, there was hope that Arsenal had turned the corner but all of a sudden they appear to be back to square one following the sacking of Unai Emery a year ago on Sunday.
While there are still high hopes that Arteta will succeed as a manager, he is finding proceedings tough at the moment at a club that has been on the decline for several seasons now following years of mismanagement.
Here, Sportsmail takes a look at what has actually changed since Arsenal decided to part ways with Emery, who was sacked following a poor run of results and dull football, on November 29, 2019…
COMPACT STYLE OF PLAY
After legendary manager Arsene Wenger departed, Arsenal went away from their philosophy of free-flowing football under Emery but their fortunes didn’t necessarily change in defence.
Emery wanted his Arsenal team to soak up the danger and kill teams on the counter-attack, but on the whole, this plan didn’t work out as the Gunners were still conceding plenty.
In came Arteta, and after a couple of months of acclimatising to the players at his disposal, he soon stamped his authority on the squad and set about implementing a clear plan.
Similarly to Emery, Arteta opted to take a defensive-minded approach, but there was a clear game plan for all to see which seemed to be paying off.
Arteta guided Arsenal to their 14th FA Cup at the end of last season, beating Manchester City in the semi-final before overcoming London rivals Chelsea in the final at Wembley.
And the main reason behind their success? Defending as a unit and allowing talisman Aubameyang to provide the magic up the other end.
Arsenal have now lost five of their opening 10 matches in the Premier League this season
The Gunners were extremely resilient against City and Chelsea, especially in the semi-final as the likes of David Luiz produced heroic displays after coming in for plenty of criticism previously.
The speed on the counter-attack and their slick passing allowed Arsenal to punish City and Chelsea, while they also managed to claim the scalp of Liverpool both in the Premier League and Community Shield.
Arteta had finally made Arsenal much tougher to beat, and their journey appeared to take another step in the right direction after a dominant victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford at the beginning of November.
But the Gunners have endured a worrying slump and it came to a head when they were defeated yet again by Wolves.
While Arteta has made Arsenal considerably more resilient in defence, their problems now are up front and their football certainly isn’t pretty or free-flowing anymore.
AUBAMEYANG AND THE ATTACK ARE NOWHERE TO BE SEEN
While Arteta has come in and prioritised the defensive side of things, it has cost them in the attacking department.
The Gunners were once again outplayed as Wolves put them to the sword on Sunday, with Aubameyang and Co nowhere to be seen.
The Gabon striker hasn’t scored in open play since the opening day of the season against Fulham and on Sunday, he had just one shot on target and had only nine touches in Wolves’ penalty area.
During Aubameyang’s first full season with the club, he scored 22 of Arsenal’s 73 goals in the 2018-19 campaign before netting another 22 last term as the Gunners only fired home 56 overall.
But this season, the Gabon striker has only scored twice in 10 Premier League encounters.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was once again nowhere to be seen in the defeat against Wolves
Willian has underwhelmed since joining on a free transfer from Chelsea in the summer
Since signing his new lucrative contract, which was viewed as a major step in the right direction in the club’s bid to reclaim their place among England’s elite, he has been completely out of sorts.
But a major reason behind that alarming form is the way Arsenal are set up. The prioritising of the defence has led to the attack somewhat being neglected, and there is very little link-up between midfield and attack.
Long gone are the days of Arsenal’s tiki-taka football that terrorised opposition defences and left fans in awe.
The current attack is so disjointed, and there appears to be no understanding whatsoever among the frontline and midfield – who it has to be said are massively under-performing.
Most worryingly, there is no obvious solution to Arsenal’s woes, and if anything, their attacking form has got worse under Arteta.
AWFUL RUN OF RESULTS
When Arsenal decided enough was enough with Emery after 18 months in charge, the Gunners had not won in seven matches – culminating in a dismal home defeat in the Europa League against Eintracht Frankfurt.
It was the their worst run without a victory since February 1992, which was eight games under George Graham.
Arsenal said the decision to sack Emery – having sat eight points off the top four at the time – had been ‘taken due to results and performances not being at the level required’.
But fast forward 12 months, and results are not better. The Gunners limped through last season to an eighth-placed finish, a massive 10 points off fourth.
The Gunners have endured their worst start to a league season since all the way back in 1981
Their FA Cup triumph somewhat saved a disastrous season as they claimed a Europa League spot.
But it papered over the cracks, and the problems have continued for Arsenal this season.
Five defeats in 10 Premier League matches is simply not good enough for a club like Arsenal, and their awful run now sees them sitting in a lowly 14th position with a goal difference of minus two.
And unfortunately, it won’t be getting any easier for the Gunners as they prepare to face north London rivals Tottenham away on Sunday.
Arsenal fans are fearing the worst and if they don’t pick up another victory soon, with fixtures against the likes of Chelsea on the horizon, things could get ugly with the team shot of confidence.
ARTETA TRYING TO ADDRESS PROBLEMS IN THE WINDOW
After years of mismanagement from the hierarchy in the transfer window with money being wasted on players past their peak, it has been up to Arteta and Edu to try to reshape Arsenal again.
Arteta has certainly been given more say on the recruitment front working closely with technical director Edu, but there is still plenty more work to do.
The Gunners boss brought in a left-footed centre-back in Pablo Mari in January to bolster his defence while he enjoyed a positive summer transfer window.
Thomas Partey was the box-office signing, joining in a £45million deal from Atletico Madrid on deadline day while Gabriel Magalhaes checked in for £27m from Lille in what has turned out to be an astute piece of business.
Gabriel has been Arsenal’s stand-out player so far in the heart of the defence while plenty more is expected from Partey when he recovers from injury after starring against United.
Gabriel Magalhaes has proved an astute signing but Arteta needs much more going forward
They have been brought in to improve the spine of the team and it certainly showed against United on November 1.
But the Gunners have for a while now been crying out for a creative midfielder who can work his magic in the middle of the pitch, and help unleash Aubameyang.
Houssem Aouar was a major target for Arsenal in the summer but Lyon played hardball and kept their star player. There is no doubt they will go back in for him again.
A playmaker is the priority for Arteta as he desperately looks to find that one star who can turn defence into attack in an instant, and provide that link between the back and the frontline.
BUT DESPITE THE DARK CLOUDS… THERE ARE STILL POSITIVES
Despite his inexperience and amid Arsenal’s dismal form, Arteta is certainly a manager who has plenty going for him – and the Gunners hierarchy have their full faith in him.
At the beginning of the season, Arsenal changed Arteta’s job title from head coach to manager – with the club recognising the brilliant early work he had done at London Colney.
‘Mikel’s been here since the end of December and the last nine months have probably been the most challenging nine months in Arsenal’s history – and we’ve been around for 134 years. Despite all of those challenges, Mikel has been driving this football club forward,’ chief executive Vinai Venkatesham told Arsenal Digital.
‘He has lifted the spirits and lifted the energy here at London Colney and with Arsenal fans all across the world. He is doing an absolutely phenomenal job.
‘The other thing that’s clear is that right from the day he walked through the door, he was doing much more than being our head coach. So we’re going to be changing his job title going forward. He’ll move from head coach to be the first-team manager. That’s recognition of what he’s been doing from the day he walked in the door, but also where we see his capabilities.’
Arteta had lifted spirits at Arsenal thanks to the club’s FA Cup success at the end of last season
Arteta has demanded authority ever since stepping foot inside London Colney after taking the reins, and that has been reflected in Arsenal’s change in fortunes defensively.
The players seem to have much more confidence in Arteta than they did in Emery despite recent results – knowing there is a more concise game plan in place that has paid off previously.
But to make sure things don’t turn even more sour, Arteta needs a big win to change the mood at the Emirates.
While it will always be the manager in the spotlight, the Arsenal players need to stop hiding behind Arteta and take responsibility for their own downfall.
And there would be no better place to stand up and be counted for than at their bitter rivals Tottenham…
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