The Gunners have been enjoying plenty of plaudits in recent weeks but there are clear issues Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta must rectify if they are to cement a Champions League place
Arsenal are reeling from a frustrating 3-2 defeat away at Manchester United on Thursday night in a game the Gunners will feel they should have taken something from.
Having taken the lead in controversial fashion courtesy of Emile Smith Rowe ‘s peculiar goal that found the back of the net beyond the stricken David de Gea, Mikel Arteta ‘s men let United take charge of the contest.
A Cristiano Ronaldo -inspired Red Devils outfit turned the tie on its head to take all three points and keep their hopes of Champions League qualification alive, but it continued a worrying trend for Arsenal.
Arteta’s side have now played all four of the sides that finished in the top four last term in Manchester City, United, Liverpool and Chelsea and their record in those games makes for grim reading.
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Four games played, zero wins, four losses with 15 goals conceded and just two scored – a frightening reality check for an Arsenal side that have been flying high in recent weeks.
After a disastrous start to the season, Arsenal enjoyed a 10-game unbeaten run that was ended by fellow big-six side Liverpool just over a fortnight ago.
Morale was lifted slightly after last Saturday’s victory over bottom-placed side Newcastle United, but it will now feel flatter than ever after a loss at the Theatre of Dreams.
Arteta’s tactics in another big game will come into question, even from Gunners legends like Thierry Henry.
The former Arsenal star was speaking as part of Amazon Prime’s coverage of the contest, bemoaning the Spaniard’s decision to replace club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with fifteen minutes to go.
“Aubameyang is your captain. He is your goal scorer. You put him as your captain. 15 minutes to go, you’re losing 3-2 and you take him off,” an exasperated Henry complained.
“3-2 away from home, you need a goal and you take your captain, your symbol, off the field, that’s your talisman and you take him off?
“You know he can score you goals so something is not right there.”
However, the Arsenal boss took an optimistic approach when reflecting in the immediate aftermath of the loss.
“We’ve come a long way since the game at Anfield. We were able to maintain higher periods for longer”, Arteta added.
“When we were in control we had a better structure and created chances. When it was 2-2 we needed to build momentum to get the win.”
Thankfully for the Gunners, they do not face any of last season’s top four now until the turn of the year when Pep Guardiola’s Man City make the trip to north London on New Years Day.
Struggling Everton are up next for Arsenal as Arteta shifts his focus to a contest played at a ground he is very familiar with after six years on the blue half of Merseyside as a player.