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Mikel Arteta project in a serious doubt

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Repetitive Defensive mistakes cast serious doubts on Arteta’s Arsenal project

Repetitive Defensive mistakes cast serious doubts on Arteta’s Arsenal project

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The fact that the Spaniard was spared the executioner’s block despite leading his side out of Europe for the first time in a quarter of a century last season was testament to the faith that the club seem to have in his vision.

With the Premier League transfer deadline on the 31st of August, the Gunners have come out to be the biggest spenders yet in the Premier League 2021-22 season. This is the first time since the 1995-96 season that the North London club will not play in European competition, and Mikel Arteta has made it his priority to bolster his squad.

They have backed him heavily in the transfer market. sanctioning around $177m or £129m of investment this summer. All of it has gone on younger players, suggesting Arteta expects to be given more time to shape the Gunners in his image. What that image actually is, however, is still not clear.

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One thing is for sure, though, and that’s that Arsenal start to the season has been almost entirely absent of any redeeming features. Arteta may have been handed a significant curve ball in the form of a coronavirus outbreak and several other fitness issues, but even still his failure to adapt and overcome these problems has been pitiful.

The most worrying theme of the Gunners’ opening two Premier League games against Brentford and fellow London rivals Chelsea respectively has been their overly accommodating backline. Ivan Toney had a lovely old time on the opening day, slipping $68m or £50m to having Ben White into his man bag like he was a pint-sized chihuahua.

White won just three of his seven aerial duels and was fortunate that Bryan Mbeumo did not put away Toney’s flick-on midway through the second half. White’s Centre-back partner, Pablo Mari, fared marginally better but looked seriously flustered in possession early on and struggled to find his passing range.

Out wide Arsenal were porous, with Calum Chambers’ sluggish reactions allowing Sergi Canos to fire home Brentford’s terrific opener.

Losing to a newly-promoted side, even one energized by a rabid home crowd, is never a good look and Arsenal’s performance was similarly haphazard when Chelsea came to town.

The reasons for the Gunners’ woes were numerous. Again, it should be stressed that Arteta has far from perfect conditions to succeed. Of those absent on Sunday, White, Alexandre Lacazette, Thomas Partey, Gabriel, Martin Odegaard and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – who enjoyed an encouraging cameo from the bench against Chelsea – would likely be starting.

They were also playing a very good side, led by a world-class coach who has an enviable level of squad depth. Another issue is that individually, Arsenal’s squad players are just not good enough, whether due to lack of experience in the case of Albert Sambi Lokonga – who did well in patches – or lack of footballing ability in the case of a good few others.

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Arteta must shoulder a significant portion of the blame too. Every Premier League manager manager will face adversity this season and all will be aiming to deal with it better than the Arsenal boss did this weekend.

Tactically speaking, Arteta was feeble. Rather than match Chelsea’s back three and deny their wing-backs space out wide, he instead set up his side in a comically narrow 4-2-3-1. This was likely a ploy to deny new arrival Romelu Lukaku the ball, but Jorginho had no problem firing balls into the imperious forward all game long.

Whenever Lukaku got the ball he attracted red shirts like flies, and this tactical misstep created the first goal with the Belgian laying the ball off to Reece James before spinning behind, sending Mari topping to the turf and tapping home.

It was the nadir of Mari’s horrific display. Lukaku toyed with him all afternoon and it took just half an hour for the Spaniard to strop his way into midfield and commit a brainless foul on his tormentor.

 

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