It seems as though it’s time to put up or shut up.
Mikel Arteta has had plenty to deal with since arriving as the replacement to the outgoing Unai Emery.
No manager has had the combination of a highly-disruptive pandemic, no pre-season and a squad full of driftwood to contend with.
But now the smoke is clearing. And it means that Arteta can now be fairly judged on his delivery – and this season is where the Spaniard has to show vast improvement in results if he is to continue with his grand plan.
Backing? He has been able to spend decent amounts on the targets he and Edu Gaspar have wanted. This summer, Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, Nuno Tavares and Sambi Lokonga were the players that both decided would repair dangerous weaknesses in the squad.
Pre-season? This summer he was able to work for a number of weeks with his charges, sans a handful of players returning from the Euro’s. A problem all PL clubs have had to take on. So his methods would have been able to be reinforced, his players would have intensive time to soak in and really understand what Arteta wants from them.
And the pandemic? Yep, it’s still affecting clubs, but everyone is on a level playing field now.
And that means Arteta has nothing to hide behind.
The majority of us Gooners want nothing more than for Arteta to succeed. He loves the club, both when playing and now as manager. And from the sounds of things behind the scenes, he seems to have the players loyalty.
Every player, when asked about his leadership, tactics and generally working under his tutelage have nothing but platitudes for the Spaniard.
If he had lost the dressing room, it would be easy to decipher from what the squad said and how they performed. And on these, he seems to be doing alright.
But two eighth place finishes on the spin have destroyed our standing among the top clubs and the reputation we once held. Clubs now press higher, going into games with the scent of blood already filling their nostrils.
We’ve lost the fear we once gave teams. And now we are not playing in a European competition for the first time since the mid-90s.
The drop from where we once were just six or seven seasons ago to now is a drastic one.
And Arteta may have the attention of his squad, but if results continue to slide toward the erratic, the mediocre?
When will the squad wake up and realise that another man could do this job better?
So now we see the line in the sand.
He’s had the money, he’s had the time to settle in and illustrate clearly his vision for the club.
But words are cheap – actions speak a lot louder.
This season is where everything will fall into place – or when the veil slips and we see that Arsenal have been standing still instead of getting ready to move forward.
If by the hectic festive season we are not in the chase for Europe or hot on the heels of those who have stolen a march on us – like Everton, Leicester and West Ham – then it may force the hand of the Board.
Or perhaps not, we have no idea how they will act. But if Arteta does fail to deliver the goods – who would come in and guarantee an improvement?
Who would YOU bring in?
And do you think Arteta will get it done?