Arsenal dropped their first points of the Premier League season against Fulham on Saturday.
It was an especially frustrating 2-2 draw the Emirates Stadium for Arsenal, as they were playing against ten men, and had worked so hard to go ahead in the match before conceding a late equaliser from a Fulham corner.
Much has been made of Mikel Arteta’s tactics so far this season. He has reshuffled the shape and personal of his midfield and defensive contingents. Whilst this has seen summer arrivals Declan Rice and Kai Havertz come into the team, Gabriel Magalhaes has been dropped to the bench and Thomas Partey is being used as a right-back.
Despite winning their first two matches, and creating plenty of chances against Fulham, Arsenal are yet to really click this season.
Arteta is experimenting, and seeking ways to make Arsenal more efficient and unpredictable, in the hope that they will be able to overhaul Manchester City in the Premier League title race this time around.
However, some fans would likely want to see Arteta take a far more familiar approach, reminiscent of how the team was set up last season, when Arsenal host Manchester United this weekend. What the Spanish coach has up his sleeve for that clash against the Red Devils remains to be seen.
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Former Liverpool midfielder and pundit Danny Murphy certainly thinks that Arteta should be afforded more time to tinker with his tactics and develop this Arsenal team.
Speaking on TalkSport, Murphy said, “I urge Arsenal fans just to be a little bit more patient and let him [Arteta] just find out about a few…if you’re going to introduce Havertz or Rice…you’re going to have to see how they fit with other players, how they make little combinations, how they make relationships, what’s the best role for them.”
“You only learn that in the moment…you’ll have an idea before they come.”
“The reality is, it’s not as perfect as last season just yet, of course…give him chance to evolve this squad and this team to a better level before you start judging.”
Arteta has earned the right to trust his own instincts. He surpassed all expectations by leading the club to a 2nd-place finish in the Premier League last season, and did so whilst bringing entertaining, attacking football to the Emirates Stadium, produced by a young squad full of promise.
The £158,000-a-week coach will get the formula right, in time. At that point, the Gunners will be ready to kick on. The aim is to peak in the second half of the season, so that they are at their best when the run in comes around, rather than run out of steam at that crucial stage like they did last time out. Arsenal just need to make sure they pick up enough points between now and then to keep themselves in contention.