Arsenal’s forgotten man in line for Brighton return after clear message amid Arteta criticism

The Gunners have come under criticism since losing 3-0 to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Monday

After the job he has done lifting Arsenal up the league table, Mikel Arteta has certainly been getting plenty of plaudits. If you think about where the Gunners were after three games of the Premier League season the fact that they are in a position to challenge for Champions League qualification going into the home stretch is very impressive.

As a result Arteta has been rewarded consistently on a personal level. The Spaniard became the first Arsenal manager since Arsene Wenger in 2007 to win the Premier League manager of the month award twice in a season when he scooped up the accolade in March, and is being heavily praised for how he has overseen a cultural reset at the Emirates. However, on Monday night he would have seen how fickle much of that praise can be.

The Gunners slumped to a disappointing 3-0 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace, a blow that probably would have been made even more painful for Arteta by the fact that his fellow former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira was in the opposition dugout. After the game the Spaniard was in no doubt over who was to blame for the performance.

“We can’t find any excuses and we have to look at ourselves and again myself,” he said in his post-match press conference at Selhurst Park. “I repeat because it wasn’t good enough.”

That criticism has been echoed by several across social media who have come out in criticism of the job Arteta is doing at Arsenal. Perhaps the most vocal critic has been Piers Morgan who again took to Twitter to question the Gunners decision to allow Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to leave in January given the persistent struggles of Alexandre Lacazette.

“This is actually a moment when Arsenal fans need to accept Arteta made a massive season-wrecking mistake in giving away Aubameyang and relying on Lacazette to lead the line,” the TV presenter wrote. “I said it would come back to haunt us – and it is”

Despite some of the division Monday night’s defeat caused among supporters, Arteta called after the game for the Arsenal fan base to stick behind his side as they seek to qualify for the Champions League. “We have to know this is not good enough for this club and it’s an opportunity to see our unity and if you are on the boat,” the Spaniard said. “When everything goes well, everybody wants to be there, now jump on the boat and gives us a hand.”

Arteta’s comments drew a timely reminder to a statement made by one of his players last season. Words from Mohamed Elneny calling for fans to lift him up when he was down began circulating on social media in the aftermath of Monday’s defeat at Selhurst Park.

“I need you to support me – not to put me down,” he told Sky Sports last season. “Supporter means you have to support. Not waiting for me to do one bad pass and then after speak about me, or one bad game. You have to support in the bad moments, not the good moments. In the good moments everybody is a supporter.

“I need you when I have a bad game. When I have a bad game I need you next to me saying ‘no you are good, keep going, we are next to you’. This will make me happy and you will make the world happy. You will make me improve more because I can see the support next to me.”

Elneny is line to be involved for Arsenal for the first time in over four months when they host Brighton this weekend. The Egyptian who has made just one start this season – in the 3-2 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford – is among the candidates to replace Thomas Partey if he is unable to take part. understands that the Ghanaian suffered a thigh injury in the build up to Martin Odegaard’s concession of a penalty that allowed Wilfried Zaha to score Palace’s third on Monday. “He felt something in the same area that he got injured previously, so big concern,” said Arteta after the match.

If he is unable to play against the Seagulls this Saturday then Elneny could come in to replace him. However, it is far more likely that Albert Sambi Lokonga will come into the side to partner Granit Xhaka in a move that could allow Nuno Tavares to continue in the side with Kieran Tierney out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.