The Athletic’s David Ornstein believes the Arsenal hierarchy will want to give Mikel Arteta the summer transfer window to prove he is the right manager for the club.
When Arsenal appointed Mikel Arteta as manager, one of the reasons was because of the belief that his very personality would restore spark and spike to a drifting club. These were the qualities that were most missing from Thursday’s Europa League elimination, and his worst moment yet.
It is difficult to think of a more passive display from a side urgently needing a goal in a big continental tie than what Arsenal put out in the first half.
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This draw reality remains the biggest problem from this defeat, even more than the elimination, and the likelihood that the club will not compete in European football for the first time in 25 years.
That is because it was in keeping with so much of the season, and doesn’t suggest much will change for next term or the future.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has said that the playing squad are ‘devastated’ after losing in the Europa League semi-final against Villarreal. Arsenal drew 0-0 at home against the Spanish side after losin 2-1 in Spain. Arteta said he believes that the team did enough to win the game, but couldn’t see it through.
Arsenal and Arteta have occasionally had that, but the flashes have been fleeting and frustratingly elusive. Such is the prescription of how the manager works that it has sometimes been as if he has coached his side out of effective systems or solutions.
The first-half approach didn’t work against Villarreal, and Arteta to addressed it. He has so much to figure out, as the club considers the future.
There’s none of that with Arteta. There is just more uncertainty. It is another element that can foster doubt in the minds of players when things go wrong.
There are no previous assurances that the manager can fix it. The extra pressure of the situation can also force them into decisions they wouldn’t necessarily take if they had more space. That was made painfully clear in the last two games. The way Arteta tried two different formations was the clearest possible evidence of a coach literally learning on the job. It just wouldn’t matter so much if it wasn’t a European semi-final with huge pressure, and the weight of a club’s recent history and short-term future on it.
This is another danger for Arteta now. It is the first time in his tenure there is a real aimlessness to Arsenal. His first season had the constant promise of the FA Cup, which only ended with victory. This season was riding on the Europa League. Another trophy, and a return to the Champions League, would have been the electric charge Arsenal and Arteta required. It would have been a success.
They are instead facing up to a season without European football, and four games of nothingness – much like the football.
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