Arsenal's wretched start means things may get much worse ahead of City

Arsenal are in the bottom three beyond the first day of the season for the first time in 29 years… Mikel Arteta has lost a THIRD of his games in charge and with Man City up next it could get much worse before there are signs of improvement

  • Arsenal were easily dismantled by Romelu Lukaku and Chelsea on Sunday 
  • Mikel Arteta has now lost 20 of his 60 matches in charge of the Gunners 
  • Manchester City are up next in the league following Carabao Cup action  
  • And the Spaniard has barely any answers to a mounting number of problems 

Mikel Arteta was one of around 56,000 despondent faces at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, and the pressure is only increasing by the day on the Arsenal boss.

The Spaniard watched on as his side were easily dismantled by a Romelu Lukaku-inspired Chelsea in Sunday’s London derby, making their worst ever start to a campaign in the club’s 118-year history in the process.

A 2-0 defeat by Thomas Tuchel’s men ensured the Gunners sit in the Premier League’s bottom three beyond the first game of the season for the first time since August 1992, having also lost at Brentford on the opening night of the season.

The pressure continued to mount on Mikel Arteta (second from left) after Arsenal’s defeat by Chelsea

Romelu Lukaku (right) scored as Arsenal got off to their worst start to a season since 1992

The former midfielder looked dejected in the first half as Chelsea took control of the derby, and even an improved second-half performance could not help save face nor the extent to which his side were outclassed by the European champions.

He felt the ire from the fans after losing the 20th of his 60 games in charge, with supporters surrounding his car demanding he leaves the club after stopping him from driving away from the Emirates Stadium.

All of this took place with Josh Kroenke in attendance as the pressure mounts on Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, despite releasing £130m in funds for new players this summer. 

The reasons for fans’ frustrations are numerous beyond the two defeats and their failure to score competitively this season, as well as the fact they have lost as many home games under Arteta as they did in the last six years of Arsene Wenger’s reign. 

And those issues may yet increase with the trip to Manchester City up next in the league for the north London outfit, following their Carabao Cup exploits at West Brom in midweek.

These performances are not good enough #arsenal #arteta #premierleague #football #artetaout #chelsea #aftv

Gunners fans showed their frustration after the game, surrounding Arteta’s car and demanding he leaves the club

The Gunners still lack a style of play despite Arteta being in the job for more than 18 months

A lack of identity and playing style on the pitch was a criticism levelled at Arteta last season, and despite a full pre-season he appears no closer to solving that dilemma.

‘What is the plan?’ ex-midfielder Emmanuel Petit asked on Sunday. Well, Arsenal’s main attacking ploy surprisingly seems to come through left-back Kieran Tierney.

The Scotland international often gallops down the left-hand side and from there it is a case of hit and hope to see if one of his team-mates can get on the end of his deliveries. 

Emile Smith Rowe tried to create with some surging runs from midfield, but there was a lack of substance and often purpose to his side’s attacks, a trait that almost never reared its ugly head when Bacary Sagna was playing for the club. 

The former Gunners right-back told French outlet RMC on Sunday: ‘When I was playing, anyone would be excited to join Arsenal, now we have lost our DNA.’ That much, worryingly, appears indisputable.

Arsenal director Josh Kroenke was in attendance as pressure continues to mount on KSE

Kieran Tierney was Arsenal’s only attacking outlet and was at fault for the Blues’ second goal

Gary Neville also criticised Tierney for the Blues’ second goal, getting sucked in centrally and therefore taking up a ‘poor defensive position’ to leave him sliding in vain to try and block Reece James’ shot for the second goal.

But it was just one of many examples of lapses in concentration in defence, with Romelu Lukaku bullying Pablo Mari and Rob Holding and Cedric Soares failing to step up to play offside for the first goal and struggling to contain the runs down his side from Marcos Alonso.

‘When I watch Arsenal now, honestly, I know that they are going to lose the majority of the time, that something is going to happen, that we are going to concede a stupid goal,’ Sagna said.

The errors against Chelsea may not have been as glaring as at Brentford a week previous, but they were hardly fewer in number, albeit against one of the favourites for the title rather than a newly-promoted side.

Albert Sambi Lokonga’s performance was perhaps the only positive for Arteta but one pass often split him and the underwhelming Granit Xhaka, enabling his compatriot Lukaku to wreak havoc.

Bernd Leno was much improved from Brentford but doubts have also started to emerge about his long-term future at the club, especially after the club splashed out £24million on Aaron Ramsdale.

Albert Sambi Lokonga (left) impressed but midfield partner Granit Xhaka (right) struggled

It therefore leads to a situation where none of the areas of the pitch are settled for the Gunners, and Arteta was understandably keen to point that out through the large number of absentees due to coronavirus and injury. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was only fit enough to be a second-half substitute after his bout of Covid while Alexandre Lacazette is believed to have just come out of his self-isolation period.

Ben White is the latest member of the squad to be struck down by the virus and is doubtful for Saturday, and with Thomas Partey and Gabriel Magalhaes also missing due to injury, the spine of Arteta’s team was effectively missing.

Martin Odegaard should also help on the creativity front after he completed his £30m move from Real Madrid last week, but that will not suffice in appeasing the fanbase in the same way Partey’s arrival did to a certain extent last summer. 

Moreover, England international White aside, those absentees have played some part in at least one – if not both seasons – in which the Gunners have finished eighth and therefore outside of the European places under Arteta.

There are fears that Aubameyang is on the slide after a goalless pre-season and just 10 top-flight goals in 2020-21, while Partey’s failure to avoid niggling injuries is also of great concern.

The Gunners were hampered by a number of absentees against the European champions

And that is before taking into account Arteta’s bloated squad, with Sead Kolasinac, Willian, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Alex Runarsson, Hector Bellerin and Mohamed Elneny still on their books with just more than a week of the transfer window remaining.

Arteta spoke extensively last season about the detrimental impact on the atmosphere at the club when first-team members are seeing little action on the pitch, and they are at risk of a repeat if some there are no departure before the deadline.

But his most recent comments are among the most bizarre after he thanked fans for their support despite overwhelmingly audible boos at half time at full time of their defeat by Chelsea.

‘I must thank the fans, even when things were looking difficult they tried to give the players a boost,’ he said.

‘I see a lot of positives with the crowd and the team today. At the end I didn’t see any bad reaction with any of the players. But that is my opinion.

Alexandre Lacazette (L) missed the game due to Covid while Thomas Partey (R) was injured

The arrival of Martin Odegaard should help the north London side on the creativity front

‘Feeling sorry for yourself does not help. You have to face the challenge, face the criticism – because it will come.’

In fact it has already arrived, with fans also left confused by their apparent inability to significantly improve the first team despite spending the most of any side in the top flight this summer. 

It is not the first time his comments have riled the Gunners faithful, after using statistics to try and defend his side’s poor form in December last year.  

And it has even come to the stage where even a brand-new, expensive signing may not placate supporters as it so often has with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Aubameyang in recent years. 

But before the window slams shut, Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions welcome them for the early kick-off on Saturday, and the Gunners have not won there since 2015.

But up next are Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions in the early kick-off on Saturday

In fact, since that Santi Cazorla-inspired win in January 2015, Arsenal have won just one Premier League fixture against City, which came in December that year.

They have also failed to score on their last two visits to the Etihad Stadium, and could therefore conceivably go into the first international break of the season with no goals or points on the board.

The doom and gloom has well and truly set in in the red half of north London for this season, and it could yet become significantly worse for them before there are any signs of improvement. 

Arteta’s worry however may be facing the very real prospect of not being in charge by the time that upturn in form comes to fruition. 

The Gunners have not won there since Santi Cazorla (L) and Olivier Giroud (R) scored in a 2-0 win in January 2015

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