Mikel Arteta is trying too hard to impress and entertain at Arsenal, says Paul Merson, with the under-fire Spaniard urged to rein in his ambition and make the Gunners harder to beat. The north London outfit has become far too easy to swat aside this season, with eight defeats suffered through 14 Premier League outfits.
Having become stuck in a serious rut, Arsenal finds themselves languishing just four points above the relegation zone.
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Things are not about to get any easier either, with a derby date with London neighbors Chelsea next up on Boxing Day, with Merson struggling to see how Arteta’s side can take anything from that contest. For the former Gunners winger, too many mistakes are being made on and off the field at present, with those at Emirates Stadium needing to worry more about substance than style.
“I watched them against Southampton and I was thinking how many Arsenal players would get into the Saints team. Burnley went to the Emirates and fancied it, Wolves went there and experimented! They played four at the back which they never did before.
“Of course, confidence isn’t great at Arsenal and that can play a major part. Man United looks like a different team with confidence, but Arteta needs to go back to what brought Arsenal success – the tactics against Man City in the FA Cup semi-final, the game against Chelsea in the final.
“They need to go back to that way of playing, but he’s in a position now as a young manager new in the game, he feels he needs to keep impressing. “He has to go back to being hard to beat, using pace on the counter-attack. At the moment, it feels like Arteta is shying away from using what is seen as negative tactics and is focused more on trying to entertain – it’s no good.
“Leeds is like the old Arsenal of the past eight or nine years. Arsenal didn’t win anything but everybody loved them because you knew you would watch a good game. “Arteta needs to go back to what brought him success at the first time of asking. They beat a very good Man City team at the time and Arteta needs to show the players that video and get back to that.”