Will Arteta stop the rot?

Jose Mourinho called Arsene Wenger a success in failure, but as I look back at the past and connect it to today. I can not help but notice that this was an accurate indictment on Arsenal as a whole, a precise description of what the board, manager and the players mainly.

When we ran Arsene Wenger out of town it wasn’t because we had an identity crisis and expected Premier League titles to rain on our dry and barren land. It was because we felt that the Wenger had got to a point that he couldn’t spark the team to life when a chance for the big trophies presented themselves.

The non-chase on the champions Leicester not so many seasons ago, squandering the opportunity of making the Europa League final due to customary lapses in concentration just to name a few.

The arrival of Emery though not lauded by the majority of the fanbase, there was optimism that the players would finally be held accountable. We dreamt of an Arsenal locker room that would own their performances good or bad. Far from it when the going got tough a glorious opportunity to make the Champions League was squandered despite Chelsea and Tottenham’s best efforts to fail, we didn’t capitalize. To top it all off there was the horror show in the Europa League final where sheep farmers masquerading as Arsenal players played Chelsea. The masked men who had locked up the poor Arsenal players in their barn were 4-1 down after seventy-two minutes, typical Arsenal.

This season it was a case of getting the same dosage as the team slipped to the worst start in their history, Unai Emery was sacked. Freddie Ljungberg was asked to take the reigns as a manager search ensued, no “new manager bounce” from the team. Ljungberg won one, drew two and lost three games in his six matches. If you look at Premier League strugglers Watford, who are on a run four wins, three draws and a loss in eight matches. That’s a real “new manager bounce”, where was Arsenal’s when Ljungberg took over?

Arteta is now in charge of the team and has improved the style of play vastly. There is dedication, commitment, and passion in their performances which is commendable. But a lack of concentration has seen the side lose valuable points as Arteta looks to steer the ship to the right shore. The performances show the work being put in by the manager, but the “new manager bounce” is missing yet again. Of Arteta’s six matches in charge, his record is a sorry sight to behold, two wins, three draws and a loss.

In what is the same period, Nigel Pearson has four wins and two draws, Carlo Ancelotti has three wins, a draw, and a loss. It leaves a lot to be desired when sides who on paper are weaker than Arsenal seem to have flipped the switch when Arsenal are yet to conjure up a string of wins.

Arteta has shown that he can coach up a side, he has even shown that he can get players to buy-in. But the question is can he stop the rot that has led to half-hearted performances from the Arsenal? Can he stop the rot and make accountability the moral fabric of the team? Too many lapses have watered down his work thus far and he has to be livid with his charges.

Arsenal mistakes/lapses in concentration leading to goals under Arteta

Dan Gosling goal: Arsenal lost the ball when they were trying to play out from the back as a pass ricocheted off Bukayo Saka into the path of an opposition player. Before the goal the side were cautious in playing out from the back but a poor split-second decision cost them a goal. The game ended in a draw.

Jorginho goal: Bernd Leno who has been Arsenal’s most consistent player all season made a hash of his attempt to cut the ball from a Chelsea corner kick. This left Jorginho with the easiest of tap ins into an empty net as he was unmarked after shaking off Lucas Torreira. Two of the better players any new manager would be depending on both went to sleep and the team was pulled back a goal.

Tammy Abraham’s goal: As Tammy Abraham charged toward the Arsenal 18 yard box, there were two defenders in front of him. Both opted to back paddle all the way to their own box instead of trying to pull a tackle. When Tammy Abraham’s pass found Willian, Bukayo Saka was a few meters away from the Chelsea winger but failed to get himself to close in on the Brazilian. Willian passed the ball with ease on rushing Sokratis as Tammy Abraham seemed to have Mustafi in a trance before putting the ball past Bernd Leno. The game ended in a loss for Arsenal.

Jordan Ayew goal: Quick thinking from a dead ball situation saw a ball played up the right flank to a player Kolasinac should have been close to. Before he could make up the distance the ball was played into Kouyate who needed two touches to find Jordan Ayew who found the back of the net to draw his side level. Arsenal’s top goal scorer was later sent off for a very bad tackled on Palace’s Meyer. The game ended in a draw for Arsenal.

These are what are the dropped points that would be the difference between a nervy period and an absolutely good period for any new manager. How hard will it be for Arteta to get the right character in his players as there is still a lot to play for. Is he the man to stop the rot that cost two other managers their jobs?

Philani Mukwakwami


Sports are a hobby horse of mine, what happens in-between the lines is just as thrilling as what happens outside of them.