Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has issued a warning to Mikel Arteta over Arsenal’s tactical set-up following a dismal start to the season.
It’s been an utterly disappointing opening stage of the season for Arsenal, who have endured their worst Premier League start in 39 years. Their woes were deepened in a dismal 4-1 defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup midweek, as pressure continues to pile on under-fire Mikel Arteta. The Gunners are set to take on Chelsea on Boxing Day this weekend in a massive all-London showdown that could well decide the faith of former Pep Guardiola’s assistant.
Arsenal suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Chelsea at the Emirates back last season. However, they can take some confidence from the fact that they have not lost back-to-back home league defeats to cross-town rivals since November 2009. What’s more, the struggling London heavyweights have avoided losing in each of their 12 previous Premier League fixtures on Boxing Day (W10, D2).
Yet, Arteta’s men head into this encounter on the back of a disastrous seven-match winless Premier League streak (D2, L5), facing the risk of equaling the club’s worst run without a victory in the competition since January 1993. Furthermore, despite boasting a star-studded attacking line, Arsenal have netted one goal or less in each of their last ten Premier League games!
Changes are necessary and have to be applied before it’s too late to save Arteta’s job. The 38-year-old Spaniard has to shake things up a bit, and he has to do that quickly, as Arsenal are currently closer to the relegation territory than to the summit. Already trailing fourth-placed Everton by a staggering 12 points, they face an uphill task of fighting their way back into contention for the top-four finish.
Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has dug deep into the subject, urging Arteta to learn from his mistakes and shift his footballing philosophy back to Arsenal’s fast-pace counter-attacking system. Instead of getting the most out of his team’s potential, the under-pressure manager seems to have been trying to copy-paste Guardiola’s ball-possession tactics. Unfortunately for him, his efforts have failed to bear any fruits so far.
Bild reports that out of favour Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has held a secret meeting with Fenerbahce bosses 👀 pic.twitter.com/jYP8RmK7YX— Goal (@goal) December 24, 2020
“You’d be shocked if Arsenal won, and that’s where this has got to. That can’t be right. I can’t even make a case for Arsenal winning. I watched them against Southampton, and I was thinking how many Arsenal players would get into the Saints team. Burnley went to the Emirates and fancied it. Wolves went there and experimented! They played four at the back, which they never did before,” Merson told Sky Sports.
“Of course, confidence isn’t great at Arsenal, and that can play a major part. Man United looks like a different team with confidence. But Arteta needs to go back to what brought Arsenal success – the tactics against Man City in the FA Cup semi-final, the game against Chelsea in the final. They need to go back to that way of playing. But he’s in a position now as a young manager new in the game, he feels he needs to keep impressing.
“He has to go back to being hard to beat, using pace on the counter-attack. At the moment, it feels like Arteta is shying away from using what are seen as negative tactics. And is focused more on trying to entertain – it’s no good. Leeds are like the old Arsenal of the past eight or nine years. Arsenal didn’t win anything but everybody loved them because you knew you would watch a good game.
“Arteta needs to go back to what brought him success at the first time of asking. They beat a very good Man City team at the time. And Arteta needs to show the players that video and get back to that.”