Dubai: Before the new 2021/22 English Premier League had kicked off, I had predicted that by October Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta would be the first managerial casualty of the season. I think I'm wrong… He will get the boot in September instead.
The Gunners have made the worst start in their 118-year history after the 2-0 defeat yesterday to Chelsea. They have started the new campaign with back-to-back defeats and they have also failed to score a single goal. They couldn’t lay a glove on the Blues last night with Romelu Lukaku marking his return by scoring the opener after just 15 minutes. The Belgium striker powered past the frail Arsenal defence to tap in from close range. It was men against boys and Arsenal looked as timid as their Spanish coach on the sidelines.
This is the first time ever that Arsenal have started a season with two defeats and no goals scored. The first loss came away at newly-promoted Brentford where they were bullied off the pitch by the Bees who showed far more hunger and desire. And last night, Chelsea outplayed them with quality and skill.
Sure, it is very early days but the league table does not make for happy reading – it is the first time the club sits in the bottom three after more than one game in a season since August 1992. The pressure is growing by the minute on Arteta who has now lost 20 matches in the Premier League from just 60 games. Compare that record with club legend Arsene Wenger; he took charge of 116 games before his 20th defeat.
Things are not going to get any easier for the beleaguered young coach as they have a tricky League Cup tie against West Brom next where a giant-killing is on the cards and then face champions Man City away in the league. There is a very real prospect of Arsenal going into the first international break without registering a single point.
Arteta has said that he wants to be judged as a manager after three years but you get the feeling that he won’t even last 3 games before the axe falls. It would be a smart move by the board if they were to get rid of their former player now rather than wait a few months, as is the trend. They can still salvage their season if they make a bold move now rather than wait 20 games or so by which time they could be so far adrift of the top 6 that they possibly could have nothing left to play for.
Return of Wenger
They need to get Wenger back in the hot seat. He knows the club inside out and would get the team playing like they used to. The squad isn’t bad at all. Sure, it has been hit with COVID-19 and injuries but then so have all the other squads in all the leagues. But the Frenchman would soon get them winning and challenging at the top again. You just can’t see Arteta doing that.
Sure, Wenger has not been back in the dugout since he left the Emirates in 2018 after 22 years managing the Gunners, but that’s hardly any time away from the game for Le Professor as he is fondly known. He is arguably the most knowledgeable man in football and knows what is going on in every club and in every league. Currently FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, he is fit and healthy and at 71 he has plenty of experience and knowledge to pass on to the team and get them winning again.
He won the Premier League three times and picked up seven FA Cups for Arsenal and would be welcomed back with open arms by the majority of their fans.