After yet another damaging league defeat without a goal, Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side continues to look hopeless and bereft of confidence, with the visit of high-flying Southampton coming up tomorrow.
Dropping points against the Saints would signal the first time in Arsenal’s illustrious history where the Gunners will have lost five consecutive league games at home. Whilst it is an example of how good the club has been over its 134 year past, it really puts into perspective how awful the team is doing at the moment.
Arsenal sit 15th in the Premier League table, without a win in a month and a half, and with just one goal from open play in over two months, however if you compare that to their opponents, it’s a completely different story.
Whilst you would normally expect Arsenal to be the team in 4th and Southampton to be five places off the bottom, it’s the latter who sit in the Champions League places, having scored more goals from open play in their last game than Arsenal have in their last eight.
A Brighton win against Fulham would see Arsenal drop to 16th in the table if they failed to pick up a point against Southampton and they will need to do it without the suspended Granit Xhaka and Hector Bellerin, although some fans will see this as a positive.
Gabriel Martinelli is now back in full training, which will come as a huge boost to the morale of Arsenal supporters, and hopefully players too, whilst Nicolas Pepe is also available after serving his three match suspension for headbutting Ezgjan Alioski in the Gunners’ 0-0 draw against Leeds United.
As a result of Arsenal’s updated match day roster, there’s a strong possibility we could see a right hand side of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Nicolas Pepe line-up against the Saints, however this will mean Arteta would need to drop the underperforming Willian, who has started all but one of the Gunners’ Premier League games this season.
One of Arteta’s downfalls this season has been the amount of faith he’s shown in some of his senior players who’ve let him down game after game, with Willian and Xhaka being a few examples. While it is good to see as a player that your manager has faith in you, there comes a time when change is needed, and given recent performances, that time is now.
Arsenal’s next opposition will certainly pose more of an attacking threat than Burnley, however Arteta will be relieved that for the first time in three games, his side won’t be playing a team which look to sit in a solid defensive block and counter attack. It will be another tough test to win for the Gunners, however at this stage, the main concern is actually scoring a goal, let alone netting more times than the opposition.
*stats provided by Orbinho.