Before you shout and scream at your computer having jumped to a conclusion after reading the headline, rest assured, I’m not backing Arteta to start performing well again.
Over the last season or so the Spaniard’s form has dropped considerably and, at this point, there is no hope of him recapturing it. His performance against Dortmund was possibly his worse in an Arsenal shirt. Most of the players on the pitch that night were well below par, but Arteta stuck out like a sore thumb. Quite simply, he just doesn’t cut the mustard at Arsenal any more.
At 32 years old, Arteta’s age is starting to show. His passing is sloppy, he’s always half a yard off the pace of the game and his vision now seems to reach no further than side-to-side. Obviously, at a club like Arsenal where pace and high-tempo play is key, this creates a problem.
Naturally, in the wake of a few below average team performances, Arteta has been landed with a large amount of the blame. Add to this to the fact that he was recently promoted to club captain and the criticism of him becomes more intense. In fact, in some cases it begins to border on abuse.
This has to stop and there are two reasons why. The first is a relatively obvious reason; a poisonous vibe towards Arteta will reverberate around the club and ultimately create an unpleasant atmosphere for the rest of the players. As fans, we now have no choice but to get behind our players. For at least the next four months our team isn’t changing and Arteta’s going nowhere.
The second reason is maybe the more pertinent one, and backs my reason for believing that the abuse Arteta is getting is somewhat misplaced. It isn’t Arteta’s fault that he is in decline and it isn’t his fault that his name keeps appearing on the team sheet. Responsibility for that lies solely with one man. Arsène Wenger.
All the hate that is being hurled at Arteta should actually be aimed at the man who failed, once again, to do his job properly in the transfer market. He had money, he had time, he had options and he failed. Every fan in the country was screaming at the top of their lungs for the club to bring in a defensive midfielder and it didn’t happen.
When Arsène brought in 19-year-old Calum Chambers from Southampton, he suggested that he had found his new defensive midfielder. Then, the Frenchman offloaded Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona and subsequently faied to bring in a replacement. In unison, Arsenal fans around the globe rolled their eyes. Another transfer window passed and with it, so did any real chance of winning the league.
We now find ourselves in a position where our first choice right back, Mathieu Debuchy, will not be available until Christmas and our defence is in crisis. With only five senior defenders available, any chance of Chambers being played in the defensive midfielder position has surely gone. No way could Arsène risk playing his only three centre backs all at the same time. It would be suicide.
So, what are we left with? A combination of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey in centre midfield seems the best option at this point. It’s either that, or play Mikel Arteta or Mathieu Flamini, neither of which are of a good enough standard to anchor our midfield.
As I watched us get taken apart by Dortmund on Tuesday, I watched as the camera focused on an image of an expressionless Arsène Wenger stood on the touchline. Completely out of ideas and completely out of his depth. And it’s entirely his fault.
So, the next time you watch Arteta walk out on to the pitch in an Arsenal shirt, just take a moment before you open Twitter and begin slagging him off. He didn’t write his name on the team sheet, the man in the suit on the touchline did. Your anger should be directed at Arsène, not at Arteta. At the end of the day, it’s Arsène who isn’t doing his job properly.