Unai Emery was sacked by Arsenal a year ago today, and some Gunners fans watching tonight’s third successive home defeat in the Premier League could be forgiven for thinking what’s changed?
The FA Cup has of course been safely tucked away in the trophy cabinet since Mikel Arteta arrived, but the Spaniard cannot continue to avoid scrutiny because of that impressive win at Wembley earlier in the year.
Arsenal now sit 14th in the Premier League after this 2-1 loss to Wolves, and have just 13 points from their opening 10 fixtures; their lowest ever tally at this stage of the competition.
They have scored just 10 goals in the league this season, of which eight came in their opening four games.
A season that started with so much optimism following the FA Cup and Community Shield wins as well as the clear signs of progress that had been shown under Arteta, suddenly is in danger of hitting crisis mood already.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is not scoring and does not even look like scoring, while the midfield is once again offering next to nothing in terms of protecting the defence or supplying the attack.
Thomas Partey has missed the last two games in the Premier League, and Arsenal are missing him massively.
The £45 million addition from Atletico Madrid on deadline day showed in the win at Manchester United how transformative he could be for this side. Without him, Arteta’s midfield options are average at best.
But even so, Arsenal’s manager has to be getting more out of his side. He managed it last season, but his honeymoon in north London is well and truly over.
Defeat in the North London Derby next weekend will leave Arsenal 11 points behind leaders Tottenham, and Arteta will find himself coming under real pressure, just as fans start to return to stadiums once again.
The Gunners boss should be thankful that there were no supporters inside the ground to witness this latest loss because had there been, they would certainly have made their feelings known.
This was a real throwback to the final weeks of the Emery era. Defenders backing off, wide open spaces in midfield and players trudging around the pitch with their heads down.
Emery could not find a solution to Arsenal’s problems last season and he paid the price. Arteta may still have plenty of time in the bank before he finds himself in as bad a position as Emery did before the axe eventually fell, but he will know he needs to put an end to this slump in form quickly.
Wolves were better in all areas of the pitch than their hosts, and the fact they managed it having lost Raul Jimenez early on to a sickening head injury made their victory all the more impressive.
The Mexico international was knocked unconscious following a clash of heads with David Luiz and lay prone on the turf for 10 minutes before being taken to hospital by ambulance.
It was a shocking sight, and Wolves’ players deserve huge amounts of credit for the way they performed after seeing one of their team-mates in such a traumatic situation.
What was perhaps equally as shocking was Arsenal allowing Luiz to continue until half-time after such a worrying head impact.
The centre-back’s head was cut open and even after it was bandaged up, blood continued to seep through his bandages from the wound.
He was eventually replaced by Rob Holding at half-time, but Arsenal will quite rightly have to justify why the decision was made to allow him to continue.
Luiz was back on the pitch when Wolves opened the scoring through Pedro Neto, who reacted quickly to fire home after Leander Dendoncker’s header had come back off the bar.
Gabriel headed Arsenal level soon after, ending a run of over eight hours without a goal from open play for Arteta’s side, but Daniel Podence’s sharp finish restored the visitors’ lead before the interval.
Arsenal did rally after the break and had half-chances through Holding and Aubameyang, but in truth they never really looked like finding the equaliser.
Arteta’s side now travel to neighbours Spurs finding themselves looking down rather than up.
That FA Cup win at Wembley in August is suddenly feeling like a very long time ago.