After crushing Sevilla, Mikel Arteta sent a stunning message to VAR. Pointing
After crushing Sevilla, Mikel Arteta sent a stunning message to VAR. Pointing.
Mikel Arteta was back, with animated hand gestures, roaming the area outside his technical area, and, of course, clashing with a fourth official.
Back as if the VAR-related comments after Newcastle’s winning goal on Saturday never happened, and as if a letter from the FA requesting him to explain his actions was not on its way.
Arteta jumped off his bench, head in hands, in less than a minute. Kai Havertz had headed the ball into the ground when alone in the box from a Gabriel Martinelli corner.
Such prolificacy would put many a boss to the test, and others in attendance would be as frustrated. Nonetheless, the Spaniard was already engaged in a heated debate with fourth official Horatiu Fesnic after only 15 minutes.
He spent nearly as much time outside his technical area and on its outskirts as he did inside. Especially while recovering the ball in the ball-boy style.
His arms were extended wide after Bukayo Saka was fallen many times in the first half, pleading with referee Istvan Kovacs to intervene.
After 71 minutes, Arteta had nearly reached the halfway point when Martinelli was ruthlessly hauled out by Juanlu.
Though there was no refereeing issue for him to get involved in tonight.
With several starting players recently injured, including Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Jesus, and Eddie Nketiah, it was necessary to experiment.
Leandro Trossard was utilized as a false nine, with Havertz filling in for Odegaard on the right side of midfield.
Trossard, who was frequently utilized in this position for Arsenal previous season, scored after 29 minutes.
Overall, he was underutilized, needing to drop back deeper and further to get on the ball. When he finally got his hands on it, he showed flashes of his ability.
Havertz was a different issue that was intertwined with Trossard’s lack of opportunity. Nobody expected him to create chances like his Norwegian skipper does; few players do.
However, the German struggled in this job. As he grew into the game, he made a spectacular strike after 55 minutes, cutting in and curling a left-footed shot just wide of the post. For his sake, the crowd behind the goal was wishing it in.
It was a reminder of his talent, while also demonstrating that Arteta and Arsenal have yet to figure out what his optimum position is. Such patience was fine against a Sevilla onslaught that only had one shot. But not against the superior sides the Gunners will inevitably face.
As well as referee drama, how to best utilise the £65million Havertz will surely be the other matter on Arteta’s mind at night.