In amongst a rotten 2-1 defeat to West Brom, Arsene Wenger’s decision to replace the injured Francis Coquelin with veteran Mikel Arteta proved a costly move.
With the Gunners deprived of their brutish French terrier, Arsenal caved in and threw away a one-goal lead at the Hawthorns. In the space of five minutes, the calamitous defending of his replacement saw Wenger’s men miss the chance to top the Premier League table.
Arteta has amassed just 18 appearances in all competitions for the Gunners in the last two seasons following a series of injuries. However, the Spaniard has looked shaky during the few minutes he has played over the past couple of years.
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At the age of 33, Arteta is approaching the twilight of his career and Arsenal fans are beginning to question whether the midfielder can still cut it at the Emirates.
This weekend, Arsenal locked horns with West Brom at the Hawthorns, a stadium at which the Gunners had not been defeated in a decade.
Just 14 minutes into the game and Arteta entered the field of play and despite a deft header from Olivier Giroud giving the north London side the lead, the wheels were quick to fly off shortly after.
From a free kick, Arteta despicably allowed James Morrison to evade him and volley home the equaliser. It proved even more embarrassing when you consider the former Everton man conceded the free kick himself.
Already, at 1-1, the Arsenal supporters in the stadium proved baffled as to why Mathieu Flamini wasn't chosen to replace Coquelin. The Frenchman has performed vastly better this campaign than Arteta but was ignored by Wenger when the change was required.
Just five minutes later and the selection of Arteta further conspired against the demoralised Arsenal side.
The lackadaisical Spaniard turned a James McClean cross into his own net to gift West Brom the lead. Arteta flopped to the floor and he, as well as Arsenal fans, were hoping the turf would swallow him up.
Albeit a solid second half and Arsenal proving unlucky via a late penalty miss, the damage had been done before the break. Arteta’s chain of sickening errors confined Wenger’s men to an agonising defeat.
On the back of such a horrific performance, it seems increasingly likely that Arteta won’t be the man to replace Coquelin in the coming weeks. Flamini will surely take over the Gunners’ defensive midfield slot.
In fact, as many Arsenal supporters see it, Arteta is spectacularly lucky to even remain at a club of such calibre, never mind make the first team with such kamikaze errors.