What next for Arteta and Arsenal?

The latest three consecutive draws have just cemented that feeling of ‘meh’ around Arsenal’s 2019/20 season.

Having finished fifth – just one point off a Champions League spot in last season’s Premier League – many Gunners fans could be forgiven for having some optimism going into the current campaign. However, an early-season 3-1 defeat at Anfield seemed to just throw a spanner in the works for then-manager Unai Emery.

The Arsenal board finally removed Emery from his position at the end of November. The team had gone seven games without a win in all competitions.

Fredrik Ljungberg then took charge until the Festive period when Mikel Arteta was finally formally announced as the club’s new first-team boss.

Arteta’s first game in charge was a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth on Boxing Day. His record-to-date is two wins, four draws and one defeat in all competitions.

The former Spanish midfielder, Arteta, had been learning his craft under Pep Guardiola’s guidance at Manchester City since mid-2016. Now, he’s the man in the hot seat for the first time ever and is still only 37.

A rebuilding job under the glaring media spotlight is what awaits Arteta over the next year or two – if he’s given that time.

Currently, Arteta’s side sits 10th in the league with just six wins from 24 games. The Gunners’ goal difference is in the negative which must be an extreme rarity for Arsenal at this stage of a season in the Premier League era.

Everyone’s favourite recommendation for a team in transition such as Arsenal is to “get rid of the deadwood”. That’s easier said than done, however. Arteta may not be given huge support when it comes to transfer funds due to his relative inexperience in such a job. Some players Arteta feels like moving on can make life very difficult for the Arsenal boss if they insist on staying to see out the duration of their high-paying contracts.

There is no quick fix for a team of Arsenal’s stature now. Like Manchester United, The Gunners are realising that they cannot survive on the back of past glories any more.

Arteta must be given the club’s full support for an agreed period of anything between 3-5 years. Just like with Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, nothing can be expected in the first year or two. Yet, they stuck with him because they believed they were right in appointing him in the first place. And look at them now.

Unless Arteta appears to be completely out of his depth, he must be allowed the room to fail and learn. That is the only way a new, young manager can grow in his role. Whether he’s allowed to do that with Arsenal still remains to be seen.


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