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Mikel Arteta crumbled under the pressure as Arsenal hand the advantage to Manchester City

Moving Havertz into the Arsenal midfield, leaving Zinchenko on and taking Odegaard off? Did Mikel Arteta crumble under the pressure?

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Arsenal were handed a huge boost in the Premier League title race on Sunday afternoon as Liverpool fell to a shock defeat to Crystal Palace at Anfield. However shortly after the Gunners’ title hopes would take a vital blow of their own.

Mikel Arteta’s side suffered their first league defeat of 2024 as they faltered to Unai Emery’s Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium. The first-half performance was controlled by Arsenal. The Gunners had the majority of the ball, the better chances and many felt they should have been ahead going into the break.

However the second-half was a completely different story. As Aston Villa gained control, Unai Emery made the correct changes to put the knife to Arsenal. Where as on the other hand, Arsenal were stumbling and Mikel Arteta remained static.

The Arsenal manager made his changes too late and before he knew it, the game was gone.

Mikel Arteta, more often than not, knows best. I would very rarely question his decision-making, however today in my opinion, the defeat lies fully on his head.

You could argue the initial line-up was correct considering the first-half performance was a positive one from the Gunners. However when the Arsenal manager needed to change it in the second-half, he got it completely wrong.

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Mikel Arteta chose to take off his captain and his best player on the day in Martin Odegaard. If one man was going to send Arsenal back to the top of the table, it was going to be him. The Arsenal manager said after the match that the Norwegian “had an issue and he couldn’t continue”. Take that how you will, but I’m not convinced.

The second decision I’d question is leaving Oleksandr Zinchenko on when Aston Villa were gaining momentum. We know how good he is on the ball, but off it he’s a liability. Where was Zinchenko when Villa opened the scoring? Nowhere to be seen.

READ MORE: Fabrizio Romano confirms £45m Arsenal star is not planning summer exit.

When Arsenal have control, like in the first-half, Zinchenko is the man you need. But when the game changed, Mikel Arteta failed to change with it. Where as Unai Emery did and he reaped the rewards.

Arsenal have won ten and drawn one of their 11 Premier League games before today, with Kai Havertz starting up top. Today? Gabriel Jesus started up top with Kai Havertz back in midfield for the first time in 2024. Why change a team that’s performing so well?

Kai Havertz has produced his best performances of the season when playing as the number nine and Arteta chose to move him back into the midfield today.

Leandro Trossard is also a completely different player when he comes off the bench compared to when he starts. We’ve seen that consistently all season and I’d argue that was another decision Mikel Arteta got wrong today.

Mikel Arteta on starting Trossard over Gabriel Martinelli: “I’m the manager and I decide the line-up.”

After saying all that and Arsenal stumbling in April once again, it’s not over, yet. Mikel Arteta can’t make anymore wrong decisions, and his players need to show huge character if they still want to go on and win their first league title in 20 years.

Arsenal need to win every single game and they require Manchester City to draw one, due to their superior goal difference. It’s not over, but it would take something really special for the Gunners to win the league from here.

NEXT ARTICLE: ‘He’s an idiot’… Radja Nainggolan slams player who Mikel Arteta rejected at Arsenal.
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