Arsenal went down to a 3-1 defeat at Manchester City on Sunday afternoon, with Mikel Arteta’s attempt to change the club’s fortunes coming in for heavy criticism.
The man city news is that Arsenal imploded at Man City as shambolic display showed up Mikel Arteta’s attempt to change things.
Mikel Arteta is supposed to be changing Arsenal, so the most damaging aspect of Saturday’s 5-0 loss to Manchester City was that it was more of the same: a shambolic display devoid of organization, discipline, and belief, similar to the one that put his predecessors Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery out of business.
The 39-year-early old’s promise as Arsenal manager was based on his ability to build a squad capable of competing against teams with more resources. They defeated City and Chelsea in the 2020 FA Cup final, capping up a season that included a victory against Premier League winners Liverpool in July.
With wins at home and away versus Chelsea, a win at Old Trafford against Man United, and just a close 1-0 loss at the Etihad against City, there was a similar thread amid the overall disappointment of last season.
What evidence is there that Arteta should keep his position if Arsenal lost 13 Premier League games last season and finished eighth? If Arteta has lost his touch in applying a fundamental structure to the squad, what evidence is there that he should keep his job? This is essentially the problem of hiring a manager with no prior managerial experience, which Arsenal doubled down on last September when he was formally promoted from “head coach” to “manager” in acknowledgment of the club’s shaky success to that point.
His potential to turn things around today, though, is entirely based on faith, based on his coaching skills and the club’s development behind the scenes, tackling a culture of underachievement. Arsenal will give him time, with games against Norwich, Burnley, AFC Wimbledon [in the Carabao Cup], Tottenham, and Brighton scheduled after the international break. The Spaniard, on the other hand, was profoundly troubled by the Spaniard’s weak surrender, which captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did not even attempt to conceal at full-time.
“We have to play with bravery, you have to play with everything in this kind of game, take chances; we simply didn’t do enough today and that’s it,” he told BT Sport. “Definitely, we need to speak between ourselves as players; it’s critical because we are Arsenal, and we must maintain our pride. That’s it; we have to speak, tell it like it is, and be honest.”
Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was unable to conceal his displeasure with his team’s performance. Getty Images/OLI SCARFF/AFP
Arteta couldn’t argue with such candor. “If he [Aubameyang] feels that way, I totally agree because they are the ones on the field with emotions that no one else can have. That’s great if that’s the case “he said
City were clear favorites before start, and the major absences at Arsenal — most notably center-back pair Gabriel and Ben White, as well as midfielder Thomas Partey — certainly helped, but Arteta went with a game plan he didn’t have the players for.
Sead Kolasinac had been a target for the club all summer, but he began as a left-sided centre-back in a three-man defense that was, let’s face it, a five-man defense for almost the entire game. Pablo Mari was benched, Cedric Soares started at right wing-back, and Granit Xhaka was left as the sole pivot in a midfield with the more attacking trio of Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe, and Bukayo Saka ahead of him, while Albert Sambi Lokonga, the new signing who has shown some promise in Arsenal’s first two Premier League games, was an unused substitute.
Before kickoff, each choice seemed strange, but that perception was quickly disproved. In all competitions, City has won 10 of their last 11 encounters with Arsenal, scoring nine goals in the first 25 minutes on nine occasions. Perhaps City has a psychological issue, a “rabbit-in-headlights” feeling that Arteta, as dedicated and thorough as he is, was meant to be treating, along with the schoolboy defense and inferiority mentality.
Nonetheless, they were 2-0 down at the Etihad Stadium when Ilkay Gundogan was allowed to head home Gabriel Jesus’ cross from close range, and Ferran Torres took advantage of even more baffling defence to score a second.
In the first half, Granit Xhaka was sent off. Manchester City FC is represented by Getty Images.
Arsenal’s performance then devolved into frightening complacency, missing the basic dedication and desire needed to overcome the apparent class divide. There was also minimal discipline, as shown by Xhaka’s blunder in the 35th minute when he was sent off for a two-footed lunge on Joao Cancelo, an unnecessary challenge committed with reckless power that placed his teammates at a numerical disadvantage against the league’s greatest passers. Xhaka receiving his 11th red card in his club career was unacceptable for a veteran player who had just recently signed a new deal.
Arsenal were beaten last weekend by a Chelsea side that had acquired a big-money striker in Romelu Lukaku, and they seemed to be susceptible against another squad who had failed to do so. Despite missing out on acquiring Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane, City’s firepower overpowered Arsenal, even with winger Fernando Torres playing as a striker.
On the stroke of halftime, Jesus scored his third goal, thanks to some excellent work from Jack Grealish. Attack versus. defense was the theme of the second half. Rodri added a fourth from the outside of the box, Torres added a fifth, and City could have added a few more if they had gone for broke.
Arsenal cowered and camped on the outside of their own box in the second half, while City enjoyed 86.3 percent possession. In the whole game, the visitors attempted just 68 passes and had only one shot.
It’s impossible to overstate how disastrous Arsenal’s start has been. For the first time since 1954, they have lost their first three league games, and they are just the second club in Premier League history to start with three defeats and a goal differential of minus-9. In 2003-04, Wolves did so and were demoted as a result.
Arsenal will almost certainly escape that fate, but they spent more than £130 million this summer in the hopes of finishing in the top six rather than avoiding the bottom three. They did so with complete confidence in Arteta’s ability to build a team on the foundations he has previously built. However, their underpinnings seem to be weak right now.
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