Mikel Arteta Arsenal Concerns GFXGOAL

Mikel Arteta is trying too hard to be Pep Guardiola! Arsenal's title hopes will go up in smoke if Kai Havertz experiment continues

This time last season, Arsenal had already announced themselves as potential title contenders - seeing off Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Bournemouth in their opening three games with nine goals scored and only two conceded.

The Gunners would go on to complete their best-ever start to a Premier League season and stay on top of the table for 248 days, only to surrender the trophy to Manchester City down the finishing stretch. Mikel Arteta's side were unstoppable for much of the campaign, and came up short due to a lack of experience more than anything else.

The Spaniard addressed that by making three huge summer signings, starting with Champions League winner Kai Havertz. Arsenal paid £65 million ($82m) to sign the Germany forward from Chelsea, despite the fact he only managed to score nine goals across all competitions in 2022-23.

Subsequent deals for Declan Rice and Jurrien Timber, which took Arsenal's spending past the £200m ($252m) mark, made perfect sense. Arteta's side needed a combative all-rounder of Rice's class in the middle of the park, and Timber was an excellent addition to bolster the defence.

But it wasn't immediately clear why Havertz was brought in. The 24-year-old played in several positions at Chelsea after joining the club from Bayer Leverkusen in September 2020, without ever really justifying his £72m ($90m) price tag.

And just three games into the new season, Arsenal are looking like a weaker team with Havertz forced into the starting XI in place of Granit Xhaka - who departed for Bayer Leverkusen in July. After failing to impress in unconvincing wins over Nottingham Forest and Palace, Havertz was hooked after just 54 minutes as the Gunners limped to a 2-2 draw against Fulham at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Arteta clearly has a vision for Havertz, who does have plenty to offer Arsenal if used in the right way. But if he remains in his current role, they won't have any chance of knocking City off their perch.

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