‘Stubborn’ Arteta has made Arsenal worse by spending ‘an awful lot’ on disappointing new man

Mikel Arteta, Arsenal, August 2023

Mikel Arteta shouts instructions from sideline

Don Hutchison feels Mikel Arteta is being “stubborn” by playing Kai Havertz because he “spent an awful lot” on him, and has destroyed his side’s balance.

Arteta has made some very good improvements to his Arsenal side during his time as manager. The likes of Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard have been fantastic additions.

Each of those played big roles as the Gunners put up a hard fight in last season’s Premier League title race, eventually finishing second to Manchester City.

After missing out on the title, Arteta took to the transfer market in hopes of making that last little jump to the top.

During the summer window, the manager signed Havertz, Declan Rice, Jurrien Timber and David Raya.

Rice is already one of the best midfielders in the league, and that he commanded a fee of £105million highlights the quality he possesses.

Timber is a very versatile player who will have an impact when he returns from injury, and Raya will offer strong competition to Ramsdale in goal.

However, eyebrows were raised at the decision to splash £65million on Havertz, with Jamie O’Hara stating “he can’t even hit a barn door”.

Indeed, there is a sense that the transfer was unnecessary, as the-ex Chelsea man occupied the striker role at Stamford Bridge, a position in which Arsenal possess Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah, with others more than capable of playing there.

‘Stubborn’ Arteta is ruining Arsenal balance with Havertz

However, Arteta has played his expensive signing in midfield more often than not, and Hutchison feels him doing so has ruined the side’s balance.

“What’s happened is a manager being stubborn and a manager who has spent an awful lot of money on Kai Havertz and now he’s trying to shoehorn him in and it’s unbalanced them,” Hutchison said on BBC 5 Live Sport.

“I think if you asked any Arsenal fan what their ideal midfield three would be it would be Thomas Partey, Martin Odegaard, Declan Rice. The fact that Havertz has come in and he’s playing in midfield, that’s shifted Thomas Partey to right-back.”

Partey started at right-back against Nottingham Forest, Crystal Palace and Fulham. While the first two of those games were won, the Gunners’ fluidity was not there.

Partey was then injured, so after the draw with Fulham, Arteta was forced to play the back four he had done for most of last season, with White at right-back, William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes in the centre, and Oleksandr Zinchenko on the left.

Hutchison feels the decision to not play the centre-half pairing together for much of the season is plain wrong after how they performed together last season.

“That’s put Ben White from right-back to centre-half. Gabriel hasn’t started a game this season (until Manchester United game) and when you think of him and Saliba last season they were incredible,” he added.

That has all stemmed from Havertz playing. However, with Arteta not having to worry about fitting both him and Partey into the side against Manchester United, the German was able to start in the midfield without the balance issues.

He did miss a clear-cut opportunity, and may still not be the best man to be playing, but at least for now, the balance issue has been rectified.

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