Premier League • England

Mikel Arteta told to ditch £65m Arsenal summer signing labelled ‘a passenger’ ahead of big Man Utd showdown

Declan Rice, Kai Havertz, Jurrien Timber Arsenal

Declan Rice, Kai Havertz, Jurrien Timber with the Community Shield

Darren Bent has urged Mikel Arteta to make changes to his starting line-up following Saturday’s setback against Fulham, with one star in particular labelled ‘a passenger’.

The Gunners appeared to have secured a complete turnaround when they came from an early goal down to lead 2-1, with Bukayo Saka equalising from the penalty spot with 20 minutes remaining and then Eddie Nketiah slotting home Fabio Vieira’s cross.

However, the visitors rallied superbly, despite being down to 10 men, with Joao Palhinha benefitting from poor Arsenal marking at a set-piece.

Arteta’s side only really showed any sort of attacking cohesiveness once summer signing Kai Havertz was taken off midway through the second half after another underwhelming display from the former Chelsea man.

The Germany international has now gone three games at his new club without scoring or registering an assist and former Tottenham striker Bent believes it is time Havertz was taken out of the firing line ahead of next Sunday’s heavyweight showdown against Manchester United.

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Havertz has no confidence

“Kai Havertz is the biggest one he would’ve raised a lot of eyebrows when Arsenal signed him for that amount of money, £65 million,” Bent told Sky Sports when asked which player disappointed most against Fulham.

“I think Arteta is having the same problems that Chelsea found out where do you play him? He’s not a natural No.9 he’s like a No.10 but Odegaard plays there.

“You’re almost accommodating him just to get him in the team but when you look at the balance of the side out of possession it’s all over the place I think you need to get Odegaard, Partey and Declan Rice and then work from there.

“At the moment he’s a passenger, he’s got no confidence and that’s unfortunate. I’ve been there, it’s tough. Players are rolling him the ball and he’s taking the wrong option, giving the ball away, not tracking runners.

“He found it really difficult today and the next game which is against Manchester United they’re going to have to make changes.”

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