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Back Mikel Arteta or stand still

Mikel Arteta has made progress as Arsenal head coach. But now is the time for the club to step up. They must back him in the transfer market or risk standing still.

Arsenal’s defeat to Aston Villa on Tuesday night brings everyone back down to earth. It proves that the club is still a million miles away from being a top-four side — or even a Europa League team, at this rate.

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It was very Arsenal to beat both Liverpool and Manchester City in the space of three days and then lose to Aston Villa without registering a single shot on target. But the inconsistency of the team, and the lurching nature of their performances proves one very clear problem: Mikel Arteta has a lot of work to do and he needs help to do it.

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Recently, in rather veiled, nuanced comments, Arteta has challenged the club. Essentially, his question is: ‘Do we want to take a risk and invest in the team or do we want to stand still?’ As the Villa defeat proves, it couldn’t be clearer that Arteta starts next season with the same group of players, the team will only standstill at best.

Few doubt that Arteta is getting the best out of this current group, especially in the circumstances, having inherited the squad midway through a wretched season and then having to deal with a global pandemic. But this current group is not fit for purpose.

Arteta’s subtle messages to the board suggest that he sees the same limitations of the current squad. But are they falling on deaf ears? At this stage, we are still very much in the dark about how much Arteta will have to spend, if anything. Sadly, however, anything less than a huge wad of cash is not sufficient, and Arteta will not be getting that.

This is not a call for the owners to simply throw money at the situation. The self-sustainability model is an admirable and wise way to manage a modern football club. But it has limitations, and Arsenal are experiencing them now.

Put simply, the squad does not necessarily require major surgery. There is depth aplenty and a strong group of young players. But there are several key positions that require substantial investment, and not just the cheaper options or short-term fixes that the club has tended to buy in recent season. Simply put, if Arteta has identified a player who he believes can improve the team, the club must go out and sign them

The problems extend beyond the club, too. The Premier League is getting stronger every season and beyond just the traditional top six. Teams like Burnley, Everton, Leicester City, Wolves improve every year. Then there is the potential takeover at Newcastle United, which will provide even more competition that Arsenal cannot beat. Mikel Arteta’s warning of us standing still is a best-case scenario.

Next: Arsenal Vs Aston Villa: 5 things we learned

Whether the Kroenkes will invest at this crucial junction is doubtful. They have been hesitant to do so in the past. And that is not necessarily the disastrous problem that it is often cast as. However, as the current squad illustrates so clearly, Arteta needs help. And at present, he might not get it.

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