Can Arteta turn the tide?
Arsenal have made a poor start to the 2021/22 season under Mikel Arteta. The Gunners have not won a Premier League game and are in the relegation zone after three matches.
More will be expected of Arteta’s Arsenal in the 2021/22 season. He has had time to bed in and set his playing philosophy at the club. As a result, the board may be less patient if the poor form and inconsistency continue.
In the 2020/21 season, there were glimpses of form and promise in the Spaniard’s first season, but inconsistency was a big concern. Arteta can turn the tide for Arsenal, but he must address certain areas this season to be successful.
Keep Lacazette and Aubameyang to Stop Scoring Woes
Arsenal scored their first goals of the season in the thumping 6-0 win against West Brom in the EFL Cup recently. The result ended a three-match losing streak where Arsenal failed to score a single goal.
Arteta fielded a strong side against West Brom, and they were completely dominant. Returning striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a hat-trick, while Alexandre Lacazette, Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pépé were also on the scoresheet.
Although the likes of Aubameyang and Lacazette have been linked with moves away from Arsenal, Arteta must keep the two strikers to contend with the lack of goals early in the season. If the duo left the Emirates, Eddie Nketiah and new signing, 20-year-old Folarin Balogun, would be the only senior forwards left.
Between them, Aubameyang and Lacazette have scored 154 goals for Arsenal. Losing the pair during the transfer window would only see the Gunners struggle for goals as the season progresses.
Improve Home Form
Arsenal’s home form has declined in recent years, and this trend has continued under Arteta. Last season, the Gunners won just eight of their 19 Premier League fixtures at the Emirates compared to 12 in the previous season and 14 in the 2019/20 season.
In addition to the poor win rate at home, the Gunners lost some big games at the Emirates in the 2020/21 season, losing against Liverpool (3-0) and Man City (1-0). Dropping points to teams at the top of the table left Arsenal scrambling for a European place at the end of the season, which they eventually missed out on.
Already this season, Arsenal have lost a key match at home. In their second match of the season, the Gunners were comfortably beaten 2-0 by Chelsea. Arsenal showed few signs of a comeback after conceding two goals early in the first half, and there was little attacking intent or defensive solidity.
This season, Arteta has to address the amount dropped points to teams outside of the top six at home. In the 2020/21 campaign, Arsenal went on a four-game losing streak at home against Leicester, Aston Villa, Wolves and Burnley early in the season. They also dropped points at home against Crystal Palace, Southampton and Fulham throughout the season. These fine margins contributed to Arsenal missing out on the Europa Conference League qualification due to an eight-place finish.
Arteta showed signs of turning things around at home in the 2020/21 season, mostly in Europa League ties, as the Gunners lost one of their seven home ties in Europe. But to remain competitive at the top this season, the Spaniard has to win over the home crowd and make the Gunners harder to beat at home.
Utilise Young Signings
Arsenal have invested heavily this summer, particularly in younger players. 23-year-old centre-back, Ben White, was the club’s marquee signings. White arrived from Brighton for £50 million in August, and he will be key to a rebuild under Arteta. Having been back by the board in the latest transfer window, the current owners are fully aware that Arteta is trying to build a future squad to get the gunners back into the height of European Football in the form of the Champions League. This rebuild process will take years, as no fan would be looking to back the current squad in Champions League Betting given their woeful three opening games to the season domestically, meaning that a top-four qualifying spot seems highly unlikely.
As a ball-playing centre-back with experience retaining possession in systems under Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds and Graham Potter at Brighton, White comes ready-made as an ‘Arsenal’ style player. Additionally, his ability to defend effectively helped Brighton to have the best defensive record in the bottom half of the Premier League last season and helped Leeds win promotion from the Championship in 2019/20 with the best defensive record in the league. Arteta should rebuild his defence around White, and his proven consistency will help sure things up at centre back.
Martin Odegaard is another high-profile signing for Arsenal this season. The 22-year-old Norwegian is familiar with the club, having joined on load for the second half of last season. Odegaard is unproven in the Premier League and only made three-goal contributions in 14 appearances last term. But he comes with plenty of European experience that Arteta will hope to utilise this season.
Further signings include youngsters Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Aaron Ramsdale and Folarin Balogun. However, to get the best out of his new signings and to build a consistent squad, Arteta must retain some experienced players to support his new-look team this season.
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