Paul Merson: "You watch them and think they are a middle of the table team. Where are Arsenal going? People say you can see what Arteta is trying to do, but I'm not sure."; watch Arsenal vs Wolves live on Sky Sports on Sunday; kick off 7.15pm
Sunday 29 November 2020 19:36, UK
Paul Merson has questioned whether Arsenal are making any improvement under manager Mikel Arteta, saying the Gunners are nothing more than a mid-table Premier League team.
There is plenty of concern around the Gunners' recent form - they have just one win in their past five Premier League games and they have only scored once - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's winning penalty at Manchester United - during that run too.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Merson is struggling to see what Arsenal are trying to achieve under Arteta...
Some people are saying one step forward, one step back. One step back?! That's kind.
They were a million miles off Leeds last Sunday.
It did Arsenal a favour when Nicolas Pepe got sent off, Leeds then ran out of ideas because Arsenal had to sit deep.
Only a couple weeks before, Leicester went to Leeds and put four past them. Leeds let in goals. The teams that beat them are the teams with players who can glide past their defenders; Arsenal don't have that.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is bringing absolutely nothing to the party at the moment. He played central and he was ineffective as he was before.
You watch them and think they are a middle-of-the-table team.
Looking back at that win at Manchester United, it doesn't look so great now. Do not even start me on Manchester United, it's no big licks going there and getting a result at the moment.
Where are Arsenal going? People say you can see what Arteta is trying to do, but I'm not sure.
I watched Leeds and you can see what they are doing. Some of their passing and movement, you could tell they have worked on it, but I do not see that with Arsenal.
Where are they strong?
They are not dominant at the back. Thomas Partey is a good player and they have missed him - he should make a difference when he's back - but up front they do not get the ball out wide to the wingers.
Aubameyang plays up front and does not touch the ball. There is no running off the ball.
Paul Merson insists the outcome of the "massive" clash between Chelsea and Tottenham will have a huge bearing on the rest of the season.
Liverpool are so great because they are the best team in the world at running off the ball. With Arsenal, it's all to feet.
They will not make a run without the ball, and if they do, it's a token gesture run, and nobody is being pulled out of position.
When Salah, Mane, Firmino make a run, they will sprint, so whoever marks them has to go with them, and space is open for someone else.
It's very, very easy to play against Arsenal at the moment and it doesn't help that he doesn't know what his strongest team is.
So what do the stats say about Arsenal's recent struggles?
The last time Arsenal had fewer points after nine Premier League games was in 1994/95. No team with 13 points or fewer after nine games has gone on to win the domestic crown.
Arsenal have scored just nine goals so far this season - only Sheffield United, Burnley and West Brom have scored fewer. It is the Gunners' lowest tally after nine games since they scored six in 1986/87.
It is seven hours and 56 minutes since Arteta's side scored from open play in the Premier League - a problem that has only really arisen during this campaign.
Arsenal have made a league-topping 22 changes to their starting XI in the Premier League this term - quite a contrast to the modest three made by Aston Villa.
Arsenal were rarely getting in positions to even threaten the Leeds goal last Sunday and it is a recurring problem, with the Gunners now goalless in four of their last five Premier League games.
Despite having to play the majority of the second half with 10 men after Pepe's dismissal, it's an issue which can be highlighted by their passing struggles at Elland Road.
The player with the most completed passes to Aubameyang at Leeds was goalkeeper Bernd Leno with five.
Meanwhile, Granit Xhaka did not complete a pass to Joe Willock, and made just three to Ceballos. Willock failed to complete a single pass to Xhaka, just two to Ceballos and none to Aubameyang.
Watch Arsenal vs Wolves live on Sunday on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event; kick off 7.15pm
This week on the Pitch to Post Preview Podcast, Peter Smith is joined by Michael Bridge and Charlotte Marsh to look ahead to a blockbuster London derby between title hopefuls Chelsea and Tottenham, James Cooper explains how Bruno Fernandes has become Man Utd's leader, and we analyse Arsenal's creativity problems.
Plus, Tim Thornton has the latest from Leeds and Sheffield United - including the story of how the Blades almost signed Diego Maradona! Charlotte then makes her bold Pitch for what she thinks will happen in this weekend's Premier League action…