Arsenal legend Paul Merson has questioned the mental strength of the current side after their defeat to Man City in the season opener on Sunday.
The Gunners welcomed a new manager in Unai Emery to the Emirates this summer with the Spanish tactician signing Bernd Leno, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Lucas Torriera and Matteo Guendouzi to stamp his mark on the squad.
However, there was a similar story on Sunday as they were second best to reigning champions Man City who looked dangerous throughout, with the hosts failing to find a way to nullify their attacking threat while also imposing themselves on the game.
In turn, Merson has raised a fair point that while new signings will help take Arsenal only so far in getting back to where they want to be in terms of competing for major honours and perhaps more immediately merely back in the Champions League, their mentality as a group has to change.
While he singled out Mesut Ozil in particular as part of his critique, it’s something that the whole squad must develop in order to establish themselves as a difficult side to beat.
“If you want to keep on coming along making money and finishing fifth or sixth, nothing has to change,” he told Sky Sports. “But if you want to break in, get to that level, it’s going to need a better mentality of player; I don’t think the players are mentally strong enough.
“I don’t see it – when it went 2-0 and the picture panned away and Bernardo Silva ran to the crowd, it was like Laurel and Hardy with Mesut Ozil, ‘that’s the end of that game’.”
The likes of Torreira and Sokratis seemingly have that grit about them while Lichtsteiner was a serial winner at Juventus. In turn, Emery will certainly be hoping that their influence will grow as the season progresses but perhaps more work in the upcoming transfer windows is needed.
Nevertheless, there is a lot of talent at Emery’s disposal, particularly in attack, and so there is surely an argument to be made that better results are to be expected in his first season in charge.