Speaking on the latest episode of The Athletic Football Podcast, George Elek has labelled Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side as ‘shambolic’ after the Gunners resounding 4-0 defeat in last weekend’s league outing.
The Spaniard’s approach in their heavy defeat last weekend has come under fire from Elek, who believes Arteta’s ‘stubbornness’ and ‘tactical naivety’ actively contributed to the Gunners’ downfall.
Last Saturday, Arsenal were handed a harsh reality check when Liverpool demolished them to win 4-0 at Anfield. Despite holding out for the first 39 minutes, the north London outfit capitulated after Sadio Mane headed home following some poor marking at a free-kick, before Jurgen Klopp’s side scored three second-half goals to ease to victory.
In the latest episode of The Athletic Football Podcast, Elek criticised Gunners manager Arteta, labelling his side’s second-half display as ‘shambolic’ before going on to criticise the Spaniard’s lack of tactical nous and flexibility during the display.
Elek said: “I think despite going into half time 1-0 down, a lot of Arsenal fans would have been pretty happy with what they saw.
“I think the second half was one of the most shambolic 45 minutes of football I’ve seen on every level – and you have to give Liverpool some credit, of course you do.
“They’ve got amazing players, and [Mohamed] Salah and [Diogo] Jota and [Sadio] Mane were all at their best. But it was made incredibly easy for them by individual mistakes – [Nuno] Tavares obviously made one absolute clanger and then he did it again about five minutes later, but was able to get back in and save it.
“But it felt like I was watching a game of football between two sides: one in Liverpool, who are trying to score goals to get their points, and then one in Arsenal, who seemed to think that they were going to score their points by successfully playing out at the back, it was bizarre.
“It felt like it was a stubbornness from Arteta not to deviate away from the gameplan after initially it going wrong, and it pestered me. It just showed a bit of tactical naivety, it seemed so clear that with the pace they had further up the pitch, Arsenal should have been looking to turn Liverpool whenever possible.”
TIF Thoughts on Arsenal and Arteta…
There is no denying that the resounding defeat at Anfield would have provided a bitter reality check to Arsenal after their 10-game unbeaten run came to an abrupt end. They have made good progress under Arteta, and that must not be forgotten, but this was a stark reminder of how there is still plenty of work ahead.
However, the key for the Arsenal and manager Arteta is how they respond to this loss. They must not allow their good work this season after their dismal start to the campaign – losing the first three matches to Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City 2-0, 2-0 and 5-0 respectively – to come undone with the hectic Christmas period on the horizon.
Perhaps we will see if Arsenal change tack in the coming weeks in response to their Anfield humbling, or whether Elek’s comments become a common theme should results start to spiral out of control.