Just over a year ago, Mikel Arteta replaced Unai Emery as Arsenal manager, igniting a new ray of hope around the club.
The Gunners had been a shadow of their previous selves in Emery’s final months, winning just four of their 13 league matches and languishing in eighth position at the time of Emery’s dismissal.
They were winless in seven matches- their worst run of results since 1992.
However, one year down the line, the Gunners find themselves in an even worse situation.
Arsenal have made a terrible start to the current Premier League season, picking up just 13 points from their opening 10 fixtures. They have lost each of their last three home league matches- against Leicester, Aston Villa and Wolves.
The pressure is mounting on Arteta, with a section of supporters demanding that the manager be shown the exit door.
A promising start…
Arsenal’s sharp dip in form is particularly frustrating given the optimism that preceded the start of the season.
Arteta led the Gunners to FA Cup glory last season– a run that included wins over Manchester City and Chelsea- while he added another trophy to the cabinet with Community Shield success over Liverpool in the traditional curtain raiser to the Premier League season.
They also had a decent transfer window, managing to keep hold of star forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and bringing in Willian, Gabriel Magalhães and Thomas Partey.
Where has it gone wrong for Arteta and Arsenal?
When Arsenal won the FA Cup last season, Arteta employed a very conservative and super-efficient style of play. The Gunners were happy to sit back and play on the counter attack, trusting the finishing abilities of Aubameyang to get them over the line.
It wasn’t exactly pretty, but it delivered success and there weren’t too many complaints at the time.
However, you can only get away with those tactics at a club like Arsenal if you are winning matches. Arsenal fans are very demanding, after being spoilt by the entertainment and success they enjoyed during the best days of Arsene Wenger.
They have become turgid and difficult to watch under Arteta. It is one thing to park the bus against City, but to be outplayed by Aston Villa at the Emirates is almost unacceptable.
There is a troubling lack of creativity in this Arsenal team, as reflected by the ten goals they have managed this season. Only West Brom, Burnley and Sheffield United- the bottom three clubs in the league- have scored less than Arsenal. That is simply not good enough.
Where do Arsenal go from here?
The Arsenal board has a decision to make: Do they stick with Arteta and hope that he turns the club’s fortunes around? Or do they pull the plug and get in someone else to steady the ship? Bookmakers like bet9ja are already predicting that the Gunners will struggle to qualify for Europe next season.
Latest reports suggest that Arsenal will not sack Arteta, as they don’t want to fall into the trap of chopping and changing managers, but how long can they persist with the current mediocrity at the club?
Arteta’s appointment was always a gamble, and a bit of a sentimental decision. The former Arsenal midfielder didn’t have much going for him in terms of managerial experience, with his major selling point being that he worked under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
Is that really enough to get on the Arsenal hot seat?
Yes, he won the FA Cup last season, but could that just be a consequence of the famous new manager bounce?
If Arsenal are really serious about getting back to being one of the best teams in the land, they may have to part ways with Arteta and bring in someone with more experience and pedigree.