While Arsenal have been genuinely impressive so far this season, there’s a sense that their momentum has stalled somewhat during the last week or so.
First came a flat and insipid second half performance at St. Marys in the Premier League, which enabled the Saints to escape with a 1-1 draw.
The side then slumped to a comprehensive 2-0 defeat to PSV Eindhoven in the Europa League, with a number of players underperforming in the Netherlands. You can still cash in the Stake sign-up promo code and back the Gunners to win the Europa League, and they’re currently favourites to achieve this objective.
But what were the key takeaways from this defeat? Here are three to keep in mind.
#1. Kieran Tierney’s Struggles Continue
While Kieran Tierney remains one of the best young players in Europe, his progress has been stalled in the last year due to injury and a subsequent lack of form.
The acquisition of Oleksandr Zinchenko has also pushed Tierney down in the pecking order, and he did little to further his claims in Eindhoven.
In fact, the Scotsman was arguably a liability at times, offering little in attack and struggling to cope with the skill and movement of midfielder Xavi Simons on the right.
He also lost striker Luuk de Jong at the corner for the second goal, and endured a chastening night all round.
#2. Arsenal’s Lack of Depth is Laid Bare
Obviously, Arteta made changes for this Europa League clash, with Arsenal already qualified and needing only a point to secure top spot in the group.
Once again, however, the club’s second string struggled to deliver, with Tierney’s struggles matched by Albert Sambi Lokonga in midfield.
The Belgian really came under pressure from PSV’s intense press, making it hard for him to carry the ball through the middle third or make his mark in attack.
He was ultimately hooked before the hour, and still likes a player struggling to make his mark at the highest level of game.
#3. The Importance of Gabriel
It was a defensive shambles for Arsenal in Eindhoven, as Arteta’s men found it hard both physically and when attempting to play the ball out from the back.
Ultimately, it’s hard to ignore the missing influence of Gabriel at the heart of the Gunners defence, with the Brazilian rested and unable to bring his strength, leadership and physicality to the backline.
Even William Saliba, who has excelled alongside Gabriel this season, looked a shadow of his usual self, and this will concern Arteta with a long, hard campaign ahead.
Gabriel’s replacement Rob Holding certainly struggled manfully too, and this is a vulnerability that could be exploited as the season progresses.