It’s been a pretty dismal start to the season for Arsenal and a trip to the Etihad at Saturday lunchtime was hardly ever going to brighten the mood around the club.
A truly tortuous opening set of fixtures which saw Arsenal start the season with a number of injuries and COVID-related incidents, not least to new summer signing Ben White, who was unavailable for the trip to Manchester.
Mikel Arteta decided to start with a back-five. The formation had worked wonders when Arsenal had beaten Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final in 2020 and would surely work this time.
How wrong he was.
Manchester City tore through Arsenal like a hit knife through butter.
It’s easier to speak about the chances that Arsenal didn’t concede. So numb to the pain of conceding, it’s actually difficult to recollect just how Arsenal managed to concede five goals.
While Mikel Arteta will have his critics, the recruitment in the summer has done very little to ever really alleviate the issues that permeate in the squad.
Arsenal enter their third game of the season, away at the league champions with Calum Chambers and Rob Holding being partnered in defence by Sead Kolašinac. Surely this was result was the only ones on the cards?
Even with such a makeshift defence, Arsenal looked sluggish. They didn’t even look like a team that were that bothered by the result. It seemed as though Mikel Arteta had told them that he expected them to lose and the team went out and did just that.
The afternoon was worsened further by the red card of Granit Xhaka, the only saving grace being that Arsenal fans won’t see him again for three matches.
Xhaka hadn’t been having the worst game in the world up until that point and his red card was perhaps hastened by the play-acting of João Cancelo, however, the Swiss captain should really know better than to dive in two-footed, even if he did win the ball.
The display obviously raises questions on just how much longer Mikel Arteta will be able to stick this out for, but so too, for Edu.
Arteta’s job is perhaps contingent on the next run of results. Wins were never expected against either Chelsea or Manchester City, even their game against Brentford was perhaps a little up in the air, given how many absentees there were, but his performances against Norwich, Burnley and Tottenham will be an interesting indicator on his viability.
As for Edu, the clock is most certainly ticking, perhaps not at board level, but certainly with the fans.
A COVID-affected market is understandable, as his inability to shift under-performing players in a market that doesn’t exist, but the lack of a proven goalscoring midfielder and a competent right-back is not doing anyone any favours at all.
Arsenal have (at the time of publishing) two days remaining in the transfer market and while the outgoings will be watched with great interest, the incomings are so much more important.
Arsenal are crying out for a decent right-back and are practically having Houssem Aouar shoved down their throats by Lyon and they are still inexplicably yet to act.
It’s almost as if Arsenal are deliberately waiting as long as possible to sign players and it’s costing them on the field as well as off it.
An international break is a welcome sight for once and the transfer market closing will likely be welcome too, but Arsenal need to sort their season soon, or else be confined to yet another season of no European football.
1.) Bernd Leno
17.) Cédric Soares
21.) Calum Chambers
16.) Rob Holding
31.) Sead Kolašinac
3.) Kieran Tierney
34.) Granit Xhaka 🔴
10.) Emile Smith Rowe
7.) Bukayo Saka (Elneny 45’)
8.) Martin Ødegaard (Maitland-Niles 71’)
14.) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (c) (Lacazette 59’)
32.) Aaron Ramsdal
33.) Arthur Okonkwo
22.) Pablo Marí
20.) Nuno Tavares
15.) Ainsley Maitland-Niles
25.) Mohamed Elneny
23.) Albert Sambi Lokonga
35.) Gabriel Martinelli
9.) Alexandre Lacazette
Manchester City team:
2.) Kyle Walker (Zinchenko 45’)
3.) Rúben Dias
14.) Aymeric Laporte
27.) João Cancelo
20.) Benardo Silva (Sterling 58’)
8.) İlkay Gündoğan (c)
9.) Gabriel Jesus (Mahrez 61’)
10.) Jack Grealish
21.) Ferran Torres
Manchester City subs:
13.) Zack Steffen
5.) John Stones
6.) Nathan Aké
11.) Oleksander Zinchenko
69.) Tommy Doyle
80.) Cole Palmer
26.) Riyad Mahrez