The knives have been out for Arsenal since Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Sp*rs with many sections of the media questioning our ability to keep pace with Manchester City.
While the Gunners remain unbeaten in the Premier League, the fact the reigning champions have already opened up a four-point advantage has led to a lot of teeth-gnashing and a fair bit of finger-pointing.
Depending on where you get your football fix, Arsenal aren’t creating enough chances, aren’t scoring enough goals, can’t cope with the rigours of balancing Champions League football with domestic matters, the manager doesn’t know how to manage his squad and we need to buy a clinical striker.
While Mikel Arteta admits his side can improve, he also made clear that it’s not been a disastrous start to the new campaign.
“It’s the expectations that we created and it’s the culture that we created,” he told his pre-Brentford press conference.
“We want to win every single match. So yeah, we have won six matches, drawn two, won a title (the Community Shield) and it’s not enough.
“We have six players injured; top, top, top players injured. It is what it is. We want to get better, that’s for sure.”
He added: “On Wednesday night [against PSV Eindhoven], we were incredible, it was a joy to watch, we were incredible. Then three days later you draw a match in the conditions that we draw and you have to improve. But certainly, it’s about consistency and hitting the level that we want every day. We have to improve that’s for sure. We want to be better.”
While Arteta knows his players need to stop making the individual errors that blemished the end of last season and have influenced results since August – substitute Jorginho was the latest to cost the Gunners on Sunday – he also made clear that error-free football is the stuff of fantasy.
“Mistakes and errors are a part of football, it’s inevitable and it happens,” he said.
“Sometimes you have to be lucky when you make one and the opponent doesn’t punish you. It wasn’t the case. Obviously when the ball falls to [James] Maddison and they have Son in front of the ball, it cannot get any worse than that. They proved the quality that they have to finish those actions off.
“It’s a shame because that was the moment, the turning point in the game, to be on top of it. It was probably the best moment that we had in the game, but we have to accept that as well. When that happens, there are other factors as well that contribute to it and move on.”
We suspect behind closed doors, Arteta’s attitude to such mistakes isn’t so polite, however, admonishing players in public isn’t his style nor is it particularly helpful when you know you have to rely on them again.
On a lack of clinical finishing, he added: “Eddie [Nketiah] had a huge chance, one against one, before 1-0, then Gabby [Jesus] had another one, but again, those are defining moments in big matches.
“You have to be there in the box and make the difference. We talked about, after PSV, that we were exceptional, and three days later we lacked that as well to win the game, but this is football.
“It’s the hardest thing in football to put the ball in the net at the right moment with the right time. It changes and every striker misses chances. You see it all across the league. It’s efficiency that we have, but at the weekend we didn’t have the efficiency we needed because the game would’ve changed in a really positive way for us.”