Willian is yet to have a good game for Arsenal and the Gunners have lost their fear factor as a collective, says Paul Merson, with Mikel Arteta, considered to be overseeing no progress. A north London heavyweight has struggled to establish forward momentum for some time now.
Arsene Wenger walked away after acknowledging that he was no longer the man to inspire a club he had previously guided to three Premier League titles.
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Unai Emery inherited the reins at Emirates Stadium, but the Spaniard failed to make the desired impact and was ushered through the exits after 18 months. Arteta has picked up the baton, with a former club captain tipped by many to provide the spark that will wake a sleeping giant from its slumber.
He has offered cause for optimism in FA Cup and Community Shield triumphs, while also finding value in the transfer market. Not every deal has been a success, though, and faltering form from supposedly key men is doing little to aid the cause at present.
Former Arsenal star Merson told Sky Sports of his concerns: “I don’t know what’s happened to Willian. “He was unplayable for Chelsea at times last season, and then Arsenal sign him and you think: ‘What a signing this is. On a free transfer!’ I can’t remember him having a good game yet. I’m a massive, massive fan of his. He’s just not got going.
“And at the moment Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is not playing. You can’t play in a football match and touch the ball six times in half. You’ve got to go and get the ball, get involved, whatever happens.” Arsenal’s struggles in 2020-21 have seen them make their worst start to a Premier League season.
Rivals are starting to pull well clear of a once ambitious outfit, with Merson saddened by the state of affairs at the Emirates. He added: “The saddest thing for me is how far, and how quickly, Arsenal have fallen behind Tottenham.
“Tottenham have just built one of the best stadiums in the world. I thought they were going to be selling players left, right, and center. A bit like Arsenal after they built the Emirates. Every year a star player went.
“Tottenham are spending more money than Arsenal! Tottenham have a team there and are in that group where they can win the league. You look at Arsenal, and they’re in the group with Leicester, Southampton, Everton, West Ham, a few others.
“People used to say ‘The Arsenal’… ‘How did The Arsenal do today?’ ‘Who have The Arsenal got today?’ That’s gone. They just say Arsenal now. It was such a top club. Some of the teams they’ve had over the years have been phenomenal.
“I think it sums up the situation at Arsenal that Wolves can experiment in that game [a 2-1 win for Nuno’s side on Sunday], and play a load of attacking players. That fear isn’t there anymore with Arsenal.”