LONDON — Mikel Arteta remains to be looking for a route out of Arsenal‘s malaise however holding 11 males on the pitch may be an excellent place to start out.
He’s proper, after all, however the blame does not lie with the officers. The Gunners had been left to salvage a degree on this 1-1 draw with Southampton after receiving their seventh pink card of Mikel Arteta’s tenure.
The Spaniard has been in cost lower than a 12 months and Arsenal’s tally in that point is over twice greater than another membership (three). There have been three within the final 5 Premier League video games and simply as towards Burnley 4 days earlier, the house facet’s indiscipline got here exactly at a second after they had been simply choosing up steam. Just 10 minutes earlier, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had cancelled out Theo Walcott‘s 18th-minute opener to present Arsenal extra perception than at another stage through the match.
That perception rapidly dissipated, nonetheless, as Gabriel earned two bookings in 4 minutes both facet of the hour mark, the primary for dissent and the second for a slipshod deal with as Walcott rolled him to launch a Southampton counter-attack.
The defender, 22, has been one among Arsenal’s higher performers in a turbulent season up to now however he regarded uncertain from the off right here, shaky in possession and positionally questionable all through.
Arteta defined away Granit Xhaka‘s pink card as a misplaced need to do nicely and maybe Gabriel could possibly be categorised in the identical means if we’re being beneficiant. The much less accommodating view is that the defender was worryingly panicked all through, caught making an attempt to win the ball too excessive up the pitch for Saints’ opening aim after which despatched off for a equally misguided try within the second half.
Arteta is inside his rights to count on higher. Xhaka and Nicolas Pepe, despatched off for a headbutt at Leeds, had been fined for his or her indiscretions. Gabriel’s dismissal was not on account of undue truculence however no much less reckless, a misjudgement which might simply have condemned Arsenal to a fifth consecutive residence Premier League defeat.
“It is very difficult to compete in this league when you play for such a long period with 10 men,” mentioned Arteta. “And when you are struggling for results, it makes it more complicated.”
The Gunners, whose beginning XI had an a mean age of simply 24 years previous, had been edgy to a person early on. It is a formidable feat for a workforce to look extra inflexible in possession than out of it however the insecurity arising from 4 consecutive residence defeats blended with Arteta’s acutely detailed directions appeared to be contributing to a efficiency riddled with inhibition.
The excellent news is, nonetheless, that they did not quit. In reality, after Saints substitute Nathan Redmond hit the put up, Arsenal nearly snatched it in stoppage-time on the different finish, Rob Holding‘s header from Bukayo Saka‘s free kick hitting the crossbar.
Saka’s perseverance was a plus level all through; his endeavour earlier had created Arsenal’s equaliser with a jinking run earlier than Eddie Nketiah slipped Aubameyang in for his first aim since Nov. 1. Arteta claimed afterwards that ending that drought will “I’m sure take a lot of pressure off him.”
It was additionally the Gunners first League aim from open play in additional than 13 hours. Baby steps.
“At the end, if you lose the game again, it would have been a really difficult one to take. The players showed what we expect them to do, sometimes with more or less quality but at least the work is there,” mentioned the Arsenal supervisor. “I saw all the players that weren’t participating and they were in the stands shouting and being right behind the team, living the game with them which is a really strong signal as well.”
This was not a ‘downed instruments’ efficiency that hastened the departure of Arteta’s predecessor Unai Emery however nor was it one to recommend the trail to brighter days is any clearer.
Arsenal’s technical director Edu reiterated the membership’s unwavering help for Arteta earlier this week, impressed as they have been by his fast affect and long-term imaginative and prescient. The downside stays the bit in between, as encapsulated by the sight of Edu within the stands shaking his head at one other poor first half.
Arteta has to get extra from these gamers within the weeks and months forward to earn the suitable to form the squad in his personal picture. A full complement of gamers for 90 minutes regularly would make that task significantly simpler.