Following his crushing of Sevilla, Mikel Arteta sent VAR a beautiful message. Making a point
Following his crushing of Sevilla, Mikel Arteta sent VAR a beautiful message. Pointing.
Mikel Arteta was back, making frantic hand gestures, prowling around outside his technical zone, and, naturally, getting into a physical altercation with a fourth official.
Returning as though the remarks he made regarding VAR following Newcastle’s victory on Saturday had never occurred and as though the FA had not yet sent him a letter asking him to clarify his actions.
In less than a minute, Arteta leaped off his bench, hands clasped together. When Kai Havertz was alone in the box, he headed the ball from a corner by Gabriel Martinelli into the ground.
Many a boss would be put to the test by such prolificacy, and other attendees would feel just as frustrated. Still, in just fifteen minutes, the Spaniard and fourth official Horatiu Fesnic were having a furious argument.
He spent almost as much time outside and around his technical area as he did within it. Particularly when retrieving the ball in a ball-boy fashion.
After Bukayo Saka was knocked down multiple times in the first half, he held out his arms wide, appealing with referee Istvan Kovacs to step in.
When Juanlu mercilessly hauled out Martinelli after 71 minutes, Arteta was almost halfway through.
However, he didn’t have any refereeing issues to deal with tonight.
It was necessary to experiment because a number of starting players, including Eddie Nketiah, Martin Odegaard, and Gabriel Jesus, were recently injured.
Using Leandro Trossard as a false nine, Havertz took Odegaard’s place on the right side of midfield.
After 29 minutes, Trossard, who was regularly used in this position for Arsenal the previous season, scored.
He was underutilized overall, having to retreat farther and deeper to get to the ball. He displayed glimpses of his abilities when he eventually got his hands on it.
Havertz was a distinct problem that was connected to Trossard’s dearth of opportunities. Few players create as many opportunities as his Norwegian captain does, so nobody anticipated him to do so.
The German, though, found this work difficult. After 55 minutes, as he settled into the game, he produced a stunning strike by cutting in and curling a left-footed shot just wide of the post. The people behind the goal were hoping it would go in for him.
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.