Selecting a Premier League lineup that few would argue against being a strong one, the damaging attempts to be too smart in his game management were painfully laid bare at Goodison Park. It’s not the first time, and across two years of him being in charge there is little to suggest it will be the last.
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sitting on the bench, and Nicolas Pepe, for that matter, he instead opted to bring on Eddie Nketiah to play left winger in place of Gabriel Martinelli with 20 minutes to go. There is no clear reason why. Having rejected a new contract just days ago, Nketiah has now been selected ahead of his teammates to come off the bench at Old Trafford and on Monday, having not played a single minute prior.
While his starting team looked strong, the decision to have Lacazette peel off into the left half-spaces and act as a second No. 10 was yet another egregious case of him trying to be too clever for his own good.
This is not an experiment. This is Arsenal Football Club, and continued decisions such as playing without a centre-forward on Monday and then bringing on players who weren’t deemed at the level required even for a place on the bench until they rejected contracts are decisions that are holding this team back.
Its potential is there, only for the box it’s in to be coloured in with marker pens and sprinkled with glitter instead of just being opened up from the top.
Arteta is taking the scenic route to success via multiple roadblocks when the path ahead is clear should he wish to take it. With a young and developing squad that will encounter setbacks, the quantity of those that are becoming self-inflicted requires urgent attention.