Neil Humphreys: Club connection not enough for Arsenal boss Arteta
Spanish manager needs so much more to fix his broken Gunners
Mikel Arteta needed just one game to learn that being a member of the old boys' club isn't enough to fix a broken club.
Like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United, Arteta has been hailed for understanding Arsenal's culture and being in sync with the Gunners faithful.
As the cliche goes, Arteta knows what the Gunners really want. But so does everybody else. They want to win.
And Arsenal's 1-1 draw at Bournemouth last night showed that the Spaniard requires more than being able to state the bleeding obvious to repair shattered confidence.
|(Dan Gosling 36)||(Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 64)|
Before his first game in charge, the new manager insisted that Arsenal's performance was more important than the result, which proved awkward.
For most of the match, he delivered neither.
Like a devilishly handsome Ebenezer Scrooge, he endured his own Christmas Carol, catching glimpses of the ghosts of Arsenal's past, present and future, if he doesn't improve things.
Scrooge needed only a single night to save his festive season. Arteta needs at least a season before the Gunners are likely to feel festive again.
Arsenal's bizarre gap between talent and tenacity remains. Individually impressive, but collectively all over the place, they remain a handful of superstars in search of anything vaguely resembling a team.
Arteta certainly revealed his bold mission statement with his starting XI. Three changes allowed Mesut Oezil to slot in a roving No.10 role, squeezed between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
The German was more involved than usual, which was faint praise indeed considering he has previously been less involved than Gunnersaurus the mascot.
Arteta also insisted that Arsenal's infamous brittle brain syndrome would no longer be tolerated, but there was little on show to suggest that a quick recovery was possible.
For all their undoubted calibre, the Gunners remain bafflingly lacklustre, particularly when they are chasing the game. Oezil drifted between the lines often enough, but the build-up was slow and relatively easy to read.
The first shot on target didn't arrive until the 35th minute, which wasn't a surprise. The fact that the strike led to a Bournemouth goal wasn't much of a shock either.
After three years under Pep Guardiola's tutelage at Manchester City, Arteta makes no secret of his plans to instil a similar, possession- based game. But he doesn't have the players yet.
Arsenal tried to play out from the back, but clumsily turned the ball over to Jack Stacey, who devoured the space along the right. His cut-back found Dan Gosling. No one in an Arsenal jersey found Gosling.
His toe-poke was Gosling's second goal in three games.
In one s w i f t move, Bournemouth demonstrated more attacking urgency than Arsenal in the previous 35 minutes.
But the visitors dominated possession in the second half, with Bournemouth content to leave Callum Wilson alone up front to feed off scraps, which was always going to be a risky procedure.
Aubameyang, who had found himself isolated on the left in the first half, drifted inside and went close a couple of times before sweeping home Reiss Nelson's cross in the 64th minute.
The equaliser only reiterated Aubameyang's impeccable goal-scoring credentials and questioned Arteta's decision to start the Gabon striker out wide. Ideally, Aubameyang belongs up front, alongside Lacazette.
As the heavens opened, no one reigned in the downpour, with both sides going close in a messy contest.
Oezil faded and was replaced after 75 minutes. But Arteta's selection of the 20-year-old Nelson and the lively Bukayo Saka, just 18, suggested the new manager will not just rely on fading brand names.
Like Solskjaer, an old boy has promised to go back to basics by going back to the academy, a noble pursuit, certainly, but also a precarious one.
The 37-year-old Arteta insists he was hired for his coaching credentials rather than his old club connections. With Arsenal lost in the midtable wilderness, he needs to prove it, quickly.