Earlier this month, Jamie Carragher claimed that several of Arsenal’s recent signings were not good enough for the Gunners, sparking a row with agent Kia Joorabchian. Tonight ahead of the clash with Southampton he was proved right. The Sky Sports pundit was echoing the views of many supporters, who have been left frustrated by specific aspects of the club’s recruitment strategy.
Arteta is under fire in north London, despite receiving the public support of technical director Edu.
Yet while there are question marks surrounding the long-term future of the Spaniard, Carragher recently issued his support for Arteta and suggested that Arsenal’s problems lie deeper than the manager.
“I think Mikel Arteta as a manager, for me, there might be talk about him being under pressure now but the situation he’s in, I wouldn’t even think about Mikel Arteta’s position,” he said on Monday Night Football.
“I really like Mikel Arteta. There’s a lot of nonsense around the club – bringing players, buying players.
“I think some signings were a joke. In terms of bringing Willian in, [David] Luiz in, Cedric [Soares] in. Is Kia Joorabchian making signings at the club?”
As a result, Willian and Alexandre Lacazette were dropped for Eddie Nketiah and Nicolas Pepe.
The Brazilian found himself on the bench alongside David Luiz, two players who have received fierce criticism in recent times.
From the outset, this felt like a match that would really show Arteta who he could count on in time of crisis.
An hour before kick-off, it came as a big surprise that Arteta was not prepared to call upon Cedric Soares at right-back against his former side, despite Bellerin’s suspension.
The call made a mockery of Arsenal’s decision to hand the Portuguese a four-year contract this summer following his initial loan in January.
Willian is now one of the club’s top earners after he was handed a three-year contract following his departure from Chelsea.
Former Gunners striker Kevin Campbell sided with Arteta for dropping the winger ahead of kick-off, he told Prime Video: “I just think Willian hasn’t performed.
“We’ve seen him at Chelsea, he was one of their better players but he’s come here and hasn’t hit the ground running.”
While Joorabchian may feel personally attacked, Carragher does have a point. These players clearly aren’t up to scratch and the club’s desperate need for strategic reinvestment has been laid bare as Arsenal bid to navigate their crisis.
None of them had a say on proceedings tonight and moving forward, their place in the side remains under threat.