Arsenal are STAGNANT! Mikel Arteta is not improving players

Arsenal are STAGNANT! Mikel Arteta is not improving players, especially Nicolas Pepe, with the club stuck in mid-table… it is hard to see the Spaniard as the man to get the Gunners out of mediocrity

  • Arsenal once again slipped up in the Premier League after drawing 1-1 at Burnley
  • It has been a horrid season throughout, with the club languishing 10th in league
  • Mikel Arteta has struggled to get the best out of his players, especially in attack 

You have to assume that Arsenal thought they were getting the Mikel Arteta who did so much to turn Raheem Sterling into a goalscoring predator at Manchester City.

If they had done their homework on Arteta, rather than approach him because he was young, Spanish and formerly one of their own, they’d have learned that he was the one who encouraged Sterling to operate closer to the six-yard box and look to score every game, even if that meant missing two or three chances.

Unfortunately for those who yearn for a competitive Arsenal in the mix, it’s beginning to look as if Sterling’s transformation was more about Pep Guardiola than his former assistant. We were expecting a similar change in Nicolas Pepe by now, though the abiding memory of Arsenal’s beige performance at Burnley was the Ivory Coast winger kicking thin air instead of the ball which Kieran Tierney had teed up.

Nicolas Pepe struggled to make the difference for Arsenal as they drew 1-1 at Burnley

Nowhere near good enough. Arteta is a reasonable, amenable and articulate man but his superficial appeal cannot take away the fact Arsenal have one of the most expensively assembled strikeforces in Europe, with Pepe (£72million), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£55.4m) and Alexandre Lacazette (£52.7m). Yet they have scored 35 goals in 27 matches.

The discomfiting aspect of Arsenal’s financials, released on Friday, was the picture they painted of exactly how much the team are underperforming, given that wages are the most accurate barometer of how good a side should be.

The Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Chelsea do shell out more than Arsenal but the average £104,000 a week was £20,300 more than Tottenham and considerably more than double the £40,247 paid out by Burnley, whose level of performance remains a miracle.

There was more life from Willian again on Saturday as Arsenal started strongly and scored through Aubameyang. He was still berating himself several minutes after losing a duel with Johann Berg Gudmundsson. But this was not a £220,000-a-week contribution. His presence, on a salary way beyond his value, also adds up to Arsenal signing marquee names for no other reason than wanting to look significant.

Mikel Arteta has endured a turbulent season, with the Gunners languishing 10th in the league

All it took was the freak goal that Granit Xhaka gifted Chris Wood to knock the breath out of Arsenal. Thomas Partey regressed from box-to-box operations to waging a losing battle to shield his own box. Even Bukayo Saka lost his head. When Arsenal finally raised themselves to try to win, James Tarkowski and Ben Mee, the defensive sentinels, stood resolute.

Arteta’s players felt a sense of victimhood over a penalty, for a Pieters handball, which was not awarded. But perhaps instead of Instagramming pictures of the episode, as Pepe was doing on Saturday night, he might take a look at himself.

When Sterling missed a sitter in a 1-1 draw at Burnley, during Arteta’s time at City, he was substituted and admonished by Guardiola. ‘I don’t expect you to make a mistake like that,’ Guardiola told him in a scene captured by City’s fly-on-the wall documentary.

There is no sign that Arteta has players on the edge in that way, instilling a little of the fear of God as Guardiola does. He cannot spend his way out of this malaise at a club which, as of May last year, owed £154m in outstanding fees —double that of the previous year. It’s hard to see him as the man to bring Arsenal deliverance from the grim middle reaches of the Premier League.

Granit Xhaka gifted Burnley their equaliser as Arsenal slipped up once again in the top-flight

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