Mikel Arteta has divided opinion among Arsenal fans this season, with the club currently going through another patchy run of displays. Despite starting the season in imperious form, the Gunners have quickly fallen off the pace.
They currently occupy 11th position in the Premier League, a point behind their opponents on Sunday, Leeds United. There’s been a lot of talk surrounding Arteta’s future but it seems the Arsenal hierarchy are determined to give him the time and space to operate.
That is a huge show of faith in a manager who has already led the club to two titles – the FA Cup and Community Shield – in his short time at the Emirates. Unfortunately, though, the results continue to trend downwards this season.
As Arsenal prepare to face Leeds United on Sunday, they do so with a very slim chance of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. The Gunners are currently nine points behind fourth-placed Liverpool.
Arsenal need a response against Leeds
After a run of one win in their last five games in all competitions, Arsenal cannot afford to drop any more points. If they cannot make the top four, Arteta must now ensure the club qualify for the Europa League by finishing in the top six.
The Gunners have already recorded back-to-back league defeats in February, against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa. They desperately need a result to keep their fading hopes of European football alive, and a positive showing against Leeds United would be the perfect way to get back on track.
The past month has seen Arsenal deliver some underwhelming performances, but Marcelo Bielsa's attacking-minded approach will provide Arsenal with a chance to get a result. Sunday’s opponents will be tough nuts to crack, but it presents the perfect opportunity for Arteta’s side to return to winning ways.
The Spaniard’s job may be safe for now but he needs to start winning, and quickly.
Arsenal and Mikel Arteta have no room for error
Arsenal’s bane, in the last few weeks, has been their defenders' tendency to commit needless errors. Mistakes at the back and avoidable red cards have cost the Gunners dearly.
These are mistakes that Leeds will be aiming to exploit. In his pre-game press conference, Arteta called on his charges to cut out silly mistakes as Arsenal aim to finish the season on a high.
“Yes, it’s going to be crucial. We don’t have any margin now in the league and in the Europa League, they are knockout games," he said, as quoted by Goal.
“So, the moment you don’t do what you have to, you are out. The level of attention and the level of performances are going to be really high and demanding - and we have to face the challenge and go through them,” finished Arteta.
The Gunners may be out of the title race and, perhaps, the battle for top four but they can still build momentum for their Europa League assignments by beating Leeds.