As Arsenal Slide Worsens, Scrutiny of Mikel Arteta Rises

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“We’ve been better than the opponent every single week but we are not winning football matches,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said yesterday after his side fell to Everton 2-1. It’s not seven matches, in Premier League play, without a win and it has the club hovering near the drop zone in the table.

Arsenal currently sit 15th, just four points ahead of Burnley, the team currently in the final relegation slot. It’s unfathomable to think of Arsenal getting relegated…until it actually happens. If there is one lesson that the year 2020 has taught us, it’s that what is highly unlikely is actually quite possible.

Goal scoring is the main problem as Arsenal are fourth from the bottom in the league in this department. The only three teams below them in total goals scored are, you guessed it, the three in the drop zone.

And that’s actually a bit misleading as one of those teams has a game in hand on the Emirates club and the other another actually has two in hand on Arsenal. In other words, Arsenal are absolutely dreadful right now, far far below any kind of reasonable expectation for this club and this side, and there doesn’t really seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.

The problem seems to be more with the players than Mikel Arteta, and No. 1 Bernd Leno has even said so publicly. Of course, motivating and managing the players is the duty of the manager so Arteta does shoulder some of the blame there.

However, at the end of the day, there is only so much one man can do, and when his players act stupidly and get really bone-headed red cards, well it’s on the player on the pitch, not the man on the touchline. You can’t get results, no matter who you have on your side, when you’re playing a man down much of the time.

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of Mikel Arteta taking the job, following the earlier sacking of Unai Emery.

The Emery tenure did not last long at all, as his predecessor, Arsene Wenger, stepped down after 22 years at the end of the 2017-18 season.

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It was going to be tough for the guy who came in after Wenger, but the guy who would take the job after the guy after Wenger, was expected to be handed a great opportunity.

Wenger said at his final press conference, you’ll miss him when he’s gone, and that’s indeed true.

Just ths past week, Arsenal Technical Director Adu said his manager was “doing a great job” and that Arteta was set to lead the club to a “beautiful future.”

Obviously, those concepts seem pretty alien to the current state of affairs, and it’s hard to even remember that Mikel Arteta has already won a trophy with the club (the FA Cup).

Ultimately, it appears the board are backing him right now, despite the brutally awful run of form. That’s understandable and justifiable, given how he was whom they wanted for the long haul. Because of who he is, being an Arsenal man, he should be afforded additional time to make his rebuilding project work.

However, if they fall into the relegation zone, and it’s deeper into the season, he’ll be sacked and justifiably so.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of  “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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