The appointment of Mikel Arteta is a huge gamble for Arsenal.
Supporters are becoming disillusioned with the club, their former captain Granit Xhaka was involved in a public spat with fans at the Emirates earlier on in the campaign and their performances in the Premier League in recent seasons have been nothing short of unacceptable.
The mood couldn’t be any different to the start of the season when Nicholas Pepe joined from Lille. Stan Kroenke had finally splashed the cash and his son Josh was becoming more involved in the running of the club.
The one issue I had in that summer window with Kroenke was the fact that we had seemingly put the acquisition of new centre backs as one of our low priorities.
After being linked with the likes of Samuel Umtiti and Dayot Upamecano in the summer, the fact that the Gunners only managed to sign David Luiz on deadline day in the central defensive department was slightly disappointing.
This is no disrespect to Luiz, his credentials are there for all to see. Despite this, I felt that Arsenal needed to build from the back in the summer. Getting Kieran Tierney in from Celtic was just the first step, they desperately needed to build on that further.
Instead, the team’s defensive woes have remained prevalent, to no one’s surprise. The signing of Sokratis last year was promising, but it’s clear that the club are still lacking in quality at the back.
One of Arteta’s first priorities has to be shoring up that defence. That’s what makes it so important that the young manager has the coaching expertise and experience around him to help him settle in. Arsenal’s defensive problems won’t just disappear overnight.
It’s disappointing that former assistant manager Steve Bould wasn’t able to help the Gunners overcome their problems in defence. It’s now time for a fresh start and a new set of coaching staff to help make Arsenal more solid. They’ll need recruits but Luiz and Sokratis have the ability to defend much better than they currently are.
The manager can get Arsenal playing like Manchester City in attack, but if they can’t defend, their efforts will be in vain. Football is just as much of a mental game as it is a physical one.
Whether that’s employing someone who can deal with psychology or bringing in coaches based of their personality could make a difference. Marginal gains like these are still gains regardless of how big they are.
The feel-good factor has been missing at the London club for some time now and they need to find a way to reconnecting with the fanbase again.
While making signings of intent like they did with Pepe could draw supporters back to the Emirates, there’s nothing like bringing a player through the academy and seeing him perform on the biggest stage.
The young players at the club could really benefit from that coaching figure that’s responsible for managing the transition from U23s football to the first team.
I’m not sure there is one as of yet, but the club could really benefit from playing Bukayo Saka and Joe Willock regularly. You have to give the club credit for handing chances to these players this season, as well as the shrewd signings of Matteo Guendouzi and Gabriel Martinelli over the past couple of years.
It’s all about making the right decisions. Arteta has a huge job on his hands if he’s to bring the glory days back to Arsenal. He needs the right heads around him if he’s to succeed at the Emirates.
This appointment is a big risk, let’s just hope that it pays off in the long term even if the club does not bear the fruits of Pep’s guidance straight away.