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Nightmare before Christmas: Arteta on the brink after yet another Arsenal horror show

Arsenal's nightmare before Christmas is complete.

Their latest league defeat to Everton, a seventh in 10 games, means Mikel Arteta’s side have now taken just two points from a possible 21 since beating Manchester United on November 1.

They sit 15th in the table and could end the weekend as low as 16th and just two points above the drop zone. It is the club’s worst start to a season since 1974-75.

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This is no blip, this is a full blown crisis and if something does not change quickly then the Gunners are going to spend the first half of 2021 in a relegation battle.

Arteta says he needs time, but he is not going to get it if he cannot find a way of turning things around quickly.

This is now a run of results that few coaches would be able to survive, and there is little sign on the pitch right now that the players are doing all they can to take the heat off their manager.

He was not helped at Goodison Park by the absence of captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang due to injury, but that is no excuse for the manner of performance his team produced as an under-par Everton side ran out 2-1 winners.

Trailing 2-1 at half-time, there was at least a slight improvement after the interval, but the visitors never really looked like finding an equaliser.

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Once again they struggled to create genuine chances. David Luiz went closest to making it 2-2 when his shot deflected off the post, but that opportunity only arose due due to a mistake by Jordan Pickford.

Other than that it was the story of the season for Arsenal. They were given plenty of the ball by Everton, but could not do anything with it.

This is a team that now looks like it is just going through the motions. It all feels very similar to the weeks leading up to the departure of Unai Emery just over a year ago.

Willian, brought in during the summer as a player who could make an immediate difference, was an embarrassment during the first half and really should have been replaced at half-time, such was his obvious lack of effort.

He, like the rest of the team, did at least show a bit more urgency in the second half, but the Brazil international should be ashamed of what he served up on Merseyside. How he saw out the entire 90 minutes only Arteta will know.

Nicolas Pepe may not have had the best of nights, but he did at least look a threat at times and had levelled things up for Arsenal from penalty spot in the first half, either side of Rob Holding’s own goal and Yerry Mina’s header.

Yet it was Pepe who was replaced by the returning Gabriel Martinelli with 19 minutes remaining rather than Willian, whose three-year contract is looking like a heavier weight around Arsenal’s neck by the week.

Technical director Edu and managing director Vinai Venkatesham have both come out in support of Arteta in the past fortnight, reaffirming their belief that he is the man to oversee the rebuilding project at Arsenal.

Mikel Arteta Arsenal 2020-21Getty Images

But his position is becoming more and more untenable by the week, not just because of the results, but because of the performances.

Everton were largely poor on Saturday night and a decent team would have beaten them comfortably, yet Arsenal struggled to even lay a glove on them, such was the meek nature of their attack.

Arteta’s side have now won just one of their last 10 games in the Premier League, scoring only four goals on the way, two of which were penalties.

Things are now as bad as they were during the final days of Emery’s tenure and Arteta could have few complaints if the axe were to fall in the coming days.

The blame should not fall squarely at his feet, however. Arsenal have been a mess for years.

The majority of the players are not good enough and the laughable decisions of those in the corridors of power, particularly when it comes to recruitment, are now coming home to roost.

But the players and the hierarchy can hide behind the manager. He is the one who has to take the flak and he is the one who will ultimately end up losing his job if things do not improve quickly.

Arsenal host Manchester City in the Carabao Cup quarter-final on Tuesday night and then welcome Chelsea to the Emirates Stadium on Boxing Day.

Should those two games go the same way as pretty much all the rest since the start of November, then Arteta’s brief spell in charge could well come to an end.