Arteta Under Fire as Havertz’s Performance Sparks Debate After Arsenal’s Draw Against Fulham

Mikel Arteta’s persistent selection of Kai Havertz has ignited a heated debate among pundits and supporters alike, as Arsenal dropped points for the first time this season with a 2-2 draw against Fulham at the Emirates Stadium.

Despite falling behind early, the Gunners managed to take the lead through goals from Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah. However, Arsenal’s inability to secure victory and close out games continued, leading to Joao Palhinha’s late equalizer for Fulham. While several players struggled to meet their usual performance standards, it was Kai Havertz who bore the brunt of criticism.

Havertz, who started his third consecutive game under Arteta, failed to make a significant impact before being substituted in the 56th minute. This lackluster performance has triggered questions from fans and experts alike, especially considering Arsenal’s substantial investment of £65 million for the German midfielder this summer.

After the match, Arteta addressed concerns about the crowd’s response to Havertz’s performance. “No, I saw an action when he played backwards and he could have turned,” the Spanish coach stated. “That’s more I think the demands of everybody to play forward and to impact the game in the final third because we had the urgency to win.”

However, former Chelsea midfielder Craig Burley took issue with Arteta’s assessment, declaring that Arsenal appears to be a stronger team without Havertz in the lineup. Speaking on ESPN, Burley asserted, “This talk from Arteta is nonsense. There’s another one in the second half where the crowd got on his back, somebody played a beautiful little ball into him, sixty yards from goal, he had 10 yards to turn because no defender had got tight to him and he passed it back 15 yards and gave it away. There is nothing in this Kai Havertz performance or performances that suggest that this player is any different, not one iota from the player who was performing for Chelsea. The only difference is he’s wearing a red shirt. He’s still got no confidence, he’s still not influencing games, he’s still giving the ball away, he’s still not getting in the right positions at the right time.”

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Former Premier League striker Darren Bent echoed Burley’s sentiments, emphasizing the challenge Arteta faces in accommodating Havertz. “Kai Havertz is the biggest one. He would’ve raised a lot of eyebrows when Arsenal signed him for that amount of money, £65 million,” Bent told Sky Sports. “I think Arteta is having the same problems that Chelsea found out. Where do you play him? He’s not a natural No.9, he’s like a No.10 but Odegaard plays there. You’re almost accommodating him just to get him in the team, but when you look at the balance of the side out of possession, it’s all over the place.”

Bent suggested that Arteta consider restructuring the team to better incorporate key players like Odegaard, Partey, and Declan Rice for better balance and effectiveness. As the discussions around Havertz’s role continue, Arsenal’s upcoming clash against Manchester United looms as a pivotal moment for Arteta’s tactical decisions.

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