The three key reasons behind Arsenal’s slump

Three main reasons for Arsenal's decline - Stuart MacFarlane/Getty Images
Three main reasons for Arsenal’s decline – Stuart MacFarlane/Getty Images

Arsenal didn’t have time to lick their wounds. two and a half days after losing a place at the top of the Premier League table, they’re back in the game against one of the last managers they’d like to face: Unai Emery is waiting at Villa Park, no doubt more motivated than ever as he once again tries to prove his point against his old employers.

After four matches without a win in all competitions, he has every chance of a dangerous trip for Mikel Arteta’s team. Arsenal are expected to be without Thomas Partey again following his injury ahead of the defeat against Manchester City on Wednesday. and Gabriel Jesus is still unavailable.

This is undoubtedly a drop in form, even if Arteta believes that the team’s performance remains at a high level. So, what can the Arsenal manager do to revive his team in this title race, and what is behind their recent slump?

Landing of Xhaka and Martinelli

One of the defining features of Arsenal’s kit at the start of the season was Remarkable new invention Granit Xhaka as an attacking midfielder. Xhaka was never a prolific goalscorer, but in the first half of the campaign he unexpectedly became decisive in the last third.

In Xhaka’s first 15 appearances for Arsenal this season, he has scored four goals, more than in the previous three seasons combined. However, in the next 15 games, he never scored. Against City in the middle of the week, Xhaka found himself in a promising position in the second half but didn’t seem to know whether to pass or shoot.

Another problem was Lack of sharpness in Gabriel Martinelli in recent weeks. The Brazilian has been one of the most exciting and prolific young strikers in Europe this season, but hasn’t scored in eight games since the start of the year. No wonder if Leandro Trossard, who found the net to replace against Brentford last weekendtakes Martinelli’s place on the left for the trip to Villa Park.

“He made an impression every time he stepped on the pitch,” said Trossard’s Arteta. “He’s an option.”

Gabriel Martinelli against Manchester City - three main reasons for Arsenal's decline - Matthew Childs/Reuters
Gabriel Martinelli against Manchester City – three main reasons for Arsenal’s decline – Matthew Childs/Reuters

No rotation

Arteta has made just 16 changes to his starting line-up this season, the fewest of any Premier League side. As an indicator of how unusual this is, the average number of substitutions for other members of the Big Six this season is 59.

Obviously, this has been one of Arsenal’s biggest strengths this season. Arteta has a definite system and a clear idea of ​​what kind of players will make it work. This is in stark contrast to a club like Chelsea, who have made 79 changes to their squad this season and are not going to come close to finding out what their top team could be.

But that’s just what the team can get through without using their full squad, and it’s clear a rotation will be needed in the coming weeks, especially with the resumption of Arsenal’s Europa League campaign. Not least because some minor players need a chance to create some kind of rhythm rather than waiting to be thrown out of the cold during emergencies.

Youthful inexperience

“I’ve always said that especially with young players on our team, the bills have to be paid,” Arteta said at the start of this season. “And that law is that at some stage they will make mistakes, they will experience something for the first time, and they will have to go through this process.”

Unfortunately for Arsenal, they paid off one of those “bills” against City on Wednesday, with isolated mistakes costing his team. Takehiro Tomiyasu and Gabriel Magalhaes made mistakes in defense, while Eddie Nketiya squandered at the gate.

It’s just the reality of the Arsenal team, although they were able to add more experience in the January window. thanks to the signing of Jorginho and Trossar.

Gabriel Magalhaes protests referee - Three main reasons for Arsenal's decline - Mark Atkins/Getty Images
Gabriel Magalhaes protests referee – Three main reasons for Arsenal’s decline – Mark Atkins/Getty Images

Arsenal were the youngest team in the Premier League season with an average age of just 24 years and 255 days (exactly the same average age as Southampton). The vast majority of these players have never raced for a title before and have never felt the pressure to do so. At times, especially in recent matches against Everton and Brentford, the pressure seemed to cloud their judgement.

Arteta needs more experienced players like Oleksandr Zinchenko, Jorginho and Thomas Partey to lead and keep a cool head.

“You need players with that kind of experience who can guide, inspire confidence and show them [the young players] way of how it’s done,” Arteta said on Friday.

“That’s what we’re talking about. If you want to win the league, you must dig deep. Sometimes you lose one or two matches, sometimes you deserve to win, sometimes you have to win it in the 96th minute, sometimes you have to play with ten men. You have to play in a variety of contexts.”


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