Mikel Arteta has masterminded a recent revival at Arsenal but Saturday’s Liverpool loss was a stark reminder of the need to invest in some decent defensive cover in January
Arsenal may have failed their litmus test, but it didn’t come without its teachings.
Mikel Arteta should take great pride in the Gunners’ recent revival having seen his side rack up a 10-match unbeaten run in all competitions, but Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool was always going to be a step too far.
In isolation, a 4-0 defeat is pretty damning, but looking at the bigger picture, it’s a minor setback on a path which carries promise for Arsenal. That is, providing they don’t slip back into their flaky ways of old. And providing Arteta learns his lessons from the defeat.
The Spaniard is well aware his Arsenal side are a work in progress and that there have been plenty of positives to take from the performances of recent months.
Aaron Ramsdale has been a revelation and summer signings Takehiro Tomiyasu and Ben White have, on the whole, shored up the defence as Arteta’s men have registered seven clean sheets across that much talked about 10-game streak.
While some may feebly argue the opposition hasn’t been much, when it comes to clean sheets, seven in ten is not to be sniffed at, whoever you are and whoever you’re coming up against.
Defensively, Arsenal have looked their strongest in a long time since Arteta opted to combine those three summer signings with Gabriel and the ever-reliable Kieran Tierney.
His back five has been set and vitally important in the Gunners recent resurgence after changes were made following that calamitous showing in the 5-0 demolition by Manchester City at the Etihad back in August.
On Saturday however, a piece of the jigsaw was missing. It was a stark reminder of what can happen if you show one of the Premier League’s elite any sign of weakness and it was a stark reminder of just how important the absent Tierney is.
Arteta has got a lot right in recent weeks, but sticking with Nuno Tavares ahead of the fit-again Scot was a mistake.
Who should Arsenal look to sign as defensive cover in January? Comment below
There’s no denying 21-year-old left back has shown promise of late but having seen Liverpool ravage opponents on numerous occasions already this season, the inclusion of the inexperienced youngster at full back was too much of a risk. Arteta played right into Klopp’s hands. But he’ll have learned from it.
Arsenal’s manager will have once again seen that his back-up boys aren’t good enough. Not to compete with the Premier League’s cream of the crop, anyway.
That solid defensive five have created the foundations for Arteta and the Gunners to build upon, but when the January window comes around, Arteta must invest in defensive reinforcements and address the lack of squad depth.
The City hammering highlighted how off-the-pace a number of Arteta’s second string defenders are and at Anfield yesterday, it was evident once again.
That’s not to say Tavares isn’t going to be a good signing and if recent weeks are anything to go by, he’s certainly got potential, but he’s not ready. Not to be thrown into the lion’s den at Anfield. Not yet.
This summer’s spending was superb, but the next step in Arsenal’s steady rise will be to ship out the deadwood and sign up some decent defensive back-up.