First day defeats are hard to take, especially if you’re an Arsenal fan. Coming into the season, there appeared to be a split on how the fans viewed their chances. The rebuild is happening, some what, but the orchestrated effort is questionable.
With the squad now lacking in various departments, and an unsure defensive performance against Brentford, Mikel Arteta is facing opening day questions. The lack of key first team members is undeniable, but this result (2-0 loss) comes as no surprise, and this is the real issue. With fans walking out before the 80th minute mark, it can only be a matter of time before the previously backed ex player (Arteta), is being urged towards the door, unless results improve.
There remains many possible routes over the coming weeks, but the fact is that Arsenal have tumbled so far from the title picture, it’s no longer even in sight. Arsenal are a legendary club, one of the three biggest in English history (alongside Manchester United & Liverpool) and belong in the elite mix. The Invincibles of so many years ago now seems an absolute life time away from where they once were. With good money invested, the finger should possibly be angled at recruitment under another former Gunners player, Edu. With key signings made over Arteta’s reign, there appears to be logic with some deals, queries with others. William Saliba being shipped off on loan to Marseille, there was a clear preference for Ben White. Saliba is a very talented young player that could have seen the White signing unnecessary, allowing the funds into other areas. The £50 million outlay on a relatively untested defender could have brought in the perfect Thomas Partey partner, or depth at least. The quota may have been involved, but still it seemed an expensive signing that wasn’t entirely needed.
With many youngsters looking prosperous, this may be the only saving grace Arteta has left. Bukayo Saka & Emile Smith Rowe are the young jewels in the crown, but the control of matches is no longer assured. In order to give these young players a platform for truly flourish, a certain Rafael Benítez may have offered the much needed experience and demand for structure, that appears lacking. That ship has sailed, and Arsenal may have to be more offensive in order to beat teams, until the formula and missing pieces are in place. This luxury of time is now in short supply, so a remedy must be swift if Arteta is to survive.
For every young manager, a steep learning curve can make or break a promising career. Arsenal were banking on appointing the next Pep Guardiola (in Arteta), which should have been mirrored by the appointment of an elite Sporting Director. Though it’s early days at White Hart Lane, Fabio Paratici has made a positive start in his recruitment policy, and this has allowed the tools for Nuno Espírito Santo to implement a strong plan. How and who is actually choosing the Arsenal incomings is unclear, but there appears some inexperience in their approach. With Ben White having past frailties in aerial duals, they could find themselves having to defend multiple direct approaches against certain sides, with teams targeting this weakness. A move to a back three, and a more familiar right sided role (for White), would suit him and perhaps the side going forward. His ability to play out and break lines would be more progressive in this outside role, instead of a completely central defensive position.
With big guns to return, Mikel Arteta will need a strong response at home to Chelsea next week. Arsenal have the talent within the squad to hurt teams, but must find a steelier approach in order to combat direct attacks. The next week could be the making or breaking of the young Spanish coach, and with Chelsea showing true ambition to climb the league this year, next weeks game will certainly be a highlight for fans.
The ruthless nature of the Premier League means demands are high, and the Arteta honeymoon period is well and truly over. The former Inter Milan manager, Antonio Conte, is waiting around for the next big European job to emerge, and Arteta may find his role under pressure even more so, if his two opening games read two defeats.