With just 13 points from Arsenal’s opening 11 games, a disappointing start to the season is threatening to become a full-blown crisis.
Defeat to Tottenham in the North London derby was the Gunners’ sixth of a sobering early fixture schedule.
Marooned in the bottom half, with just 11 goals scored, Mikel Arteta is facing ever increasing pressure to quickly arrest the slump that has set in so rapidly within his squad.
No side outside the bottom three have scored fewer than Arsenal and ahead of a tricky run of fixtures, their season could be effectively over before the festive fixture schedule is even completed.
Ahead of facing Burnley in the Premier League, Mirror Sport looks at the issues Arteta must quickly solve in order to save the season – and possibly his job.
Get Aubameyang smiling again
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s struggles have been symbolic of the overall malaise that has set in at the Emirates this season.
Just three months ago, there were parties across social media when the Gabon international put pen to paper on a new contract.
Fast forward just 12 weeks and the situation could scarcely be more different.
Aubameyang has now gone ten games without a goal from open play and generally looks more frustrated with every passing week.
The forward’s agent suggested his low goal tally can be pinned to Arsenal ’s lack of ability to create chances – a sentiment that pundit Alex Scott echoed following the game.
“People are talking about Aubameyang and saying he’s not scored and focussing on him. But I think people need to look at the bigger picture,” Scott told Sky Sports.
“Is he getting the service? Is the balance right? Is he getting the balls that he needs to be successful? You can’t just look at him, it’s a squad thing.”
Arsenal need Aubameyang firing…and fast.
Time for Nelson
Arsenal’s Europa League performances are like chalk and cheese to the dismal showings in the Premier League.
Reiss Nelson’s involvement in one but not the other is now becoming an extremely frustrating sub-plot to the early months of the campaign.
Nelson created five chances against Rapid Wien, only to not make the squad against Spurs.
Willian may be the one on the big wages, but at present, he’s nothing more than a passenger and Arteta needs to begin trusting youth.
When Wolves came in for Ainsley Maitland-Niles during the summer window, it appeared to be the wake up call that finally highlighted his importance to Arsenal.
Arteta went up against Arsenal chiefs to keep the Hale End academy graduate, with the hope that a run in midfield would be forthcoming.
But after being deployed at full-back in the early weeks of the season, Maitland-Niles has settled back into what has become a regular place for him – on the bench.
Even when Thomas Partey was injured, Arteta looked at his options and still decided to keep the 23-year-old as an unused substitute.
Arteta’s misfiring midfield desperately needs something, anything, to kickstart their season.
Yannick Bolasie took to Twitter pleading with the Arsenal boss to “free AMN”. It needs to happen soon for all parties.
When Partey finally was allowed to leave the pitch, the decision to bring Dani Ceballos on would have been to ilicit groans from the away end, had it been filled.
A midfield of Ceballos and Granit Xhaka isn’t working and it hasn’t for the entirety of the season.
Arsenal were already two down when Arteta opted to reunite a midfield that has looked a less than perfect couple.
Meanwhile, Joe Willock remained on the bench and with no Nelson, the options were severely limited.
Arteta may have to take the handbrake off if they are to stop the kind of performances that have seen them create the fewest chances in the entire division.
Should Arsenal stick with manager Mikel Arteta? Have your say here.
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