Arsenal proved the doubters right when they lost 2-1 to West Brom at the weekend, but Mikel Arteta shouldn't be solely criticised.
Despite scoring the own goal which turned out to be the winner for the Baggies, the Spanish midfielder is right to feel aggrieved by the negative judgement he received after the match.
During Arteta's tenure at Everton, he was regularly deployed as a creative midfielder. He was in charge of dictating the tempo and building attacks while players like Phil Neville were alongside him to do the defensive dirty work.
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Since his move to Arsenal in 2011, Arteta has been given the role of his former midfield partner, Neville. This probably came as a surprise to the central midfielder as it seemed like he was signed for his technical abilities.
At the time, his signing was deemed a panic buy, as Arsene Wenger made a late dash on deadline day to get his signature. His impressive spell at Everton and obvious technical talent would have been an attraction to Wenger, so the move made sense at the time.
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Arteta not a holding midfielder
The Gunners had recently lost Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, so an injection of creativity and experience was needed. When Arteta signed, however, Alex Song was still present. This allowed Arteta to play his more natural creative role, similar to Santi Cazorla today.
Then when Song left to Barcelona, he was strangely shifted to a more defensive role, with Arsenal seemingly having a lack of options there, and until the arrival of Francis Coquelin last season, the north London club didn't have a combative midfielder.
The former Real Sociedad player endured heavy criticism in that position and has continued to do so. As he played there for a number of seasons, Wenger has suggested that he is the natural replacement for Coquelin if the Frenchman were to get injured.
Now the dreaded moment has come. Coquelin looks likely to be out until at least early next year.
The own goal Arteta scored on Saturday showed that he was uncomfortable in that role. His body position was all wrong and that goal proved decisive.
You can hardly blame him, however, as that isn't his natural position. Much like Nacho Monreal, who shouldn't have got the abuse he didn't deserve when he filled in at centre half.
Must sign a defensive midfielder
Unless Wenger signs a defensive midfielder in January - which his track record in the winter window would suggest otherwise - then Arsenal fans need to get behind him.
You may not enjoy these performances in the next few months, especially in tough matches when he is likely to get overrun. Nonetheless, finger pointing and a negative attitude never helps someone who is clearly struggling and needs support.
If you want to blame someone, blame the manager or blame the players who were playing in their natural position. You shouldn't blame someone trying to do a job which he is probably working really hard to adapt to.
Now is the time to get behind your midfielder and hope he can pull you through in this difficult moment.
Arsenal fans: Who do you want Wenger to sign in the January transfer window? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!
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