Mikel Arteta’s Emulation of Pep Guardiola Could Jeopardize Arsenal’s Title Ambitions

Mikel Arteta’s Emulation of Pep Guardiola Could Jeopardize Arsenal’s Title Ambitions

In the world of football, the transfer market can be a tumultuous place. Clubs often make significant investments in players they believe will elevate their performance, but these signings don’t always pan out as expected. Arsenal’s acquisition of Kai Havertz for £65 million ($82 million) from Chelsea is a case in point. This article delves into the perplexing situation of Havertz’s role at Arsenal and whether it’s affecting the team’s overall balance.

Arsenal’s Recent Glory and Summer Signings

Last season, Arsenal’s scintillating start hinted at their potential as Premier League title contenders. However, the trophy eventually eluded them, attributed more to inexperience than anything else. In response, the Gunners made several high-profile summer signings, including Champions League winner Kai Havertz, along with Declan Rice and Jurrien Timber.

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 26: Kai Havertz and Declan Rice of Arsenal walk through the tunnel for the warm up prior to the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Fulham FC at Emirates Stadium on August 26, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Havertz: A Misfit in the Arsenal Lineup

The perplexity begins with Havertz’s role at Arsenal. At Chelsea, he played in various positions without fully justifying his hefty price tag. However, Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta seems to have a vision for Havertz that’s yet to materialize. Deployed on the left side of the midfield, Havertz has struggled to find his footing, and the team’s performance has suffered.

The Influence of Guardiola’s Philosophy

Arteta, having been an assistant to Pep Guardiola, seems to be following a similar blueprint at Arsenal. Guardiola’s adaptability and willingness to experiment have yielded success, and Arteta has tried to replicate this approach. However, the decision to target Havertz instead of a player better suited to the position has backfired.

Defensive Chaos and Reshuffling

To accommodate Havertz, Arteta has reshuffled his defensive line, resulting in an unstable setup. Players like Thomas Partey and William Saliba have been moved to unfamiliar positions, causing defensive vulnerabilities. Arsenal’s recent vulnerability to counterattacks is a concern that must be addressed.

Havertz’s Scoring Woes

Havertz’s role shift has also impacted his goal-scoring abilities. Despite having numerous chances, he has failed to find the back of the net consistently. His finishing and involvement in build-up play have left much to be desired. Arteta’s gamble on Havertz’s adaptability is yet to pay off in terms of goals.

Fabio Vieira: A Compelling Alternative

In contrast, Fabio Vieira, a less-heralded signing, has showcased his potential. His impactful performance against Fulham, winning a penalty and providing an assist, has posed a selection dilemma for Arteta. Vieira’s hunger to prove himself could challenge Havertz’s position in the lineup.

Arteta’s Dilemma and Arsenal’s Aspirations

In the short term, Arteta has the option to bench Havertz. However, long-term success is imperative for Arsenal, and Havertz’s substantial transfer fee makes his performance a critical factor. To maximize Havertz’s potential, Arteta must adjust his tactical approach, granting Havertz the freedom to replicate his successful role at Leverkusen.


Kai Havertz’s role at Arsenal has raised perplexing questions about balance and adaptability. Arsenal’s aspiration to return to the pinnacle of English football hinges on Arteta’s ability to unlock Havertz’s potential. Whether this balancing act will prove successful or become a costly gamble remains to be seen.


1. Is Kai Havertz the most expensive signing in Arsenal’s history? No, Arsenal paid £72 million ($90 million) for Havertz, making him one of the club’s most expensive signings but not the most expensive.

2. How did Fabio Vieira perform against Fulham? Fabio Vieira made a significant impact in the match against Fulham, winning a penalty and providing an assist.

3. Has Arsenal won any trophies recently? Arsenal has not won any trophies in the past two seasons, increasing the pressure on Manager Mikel Arteta to deliver success.

4. What is Kai Havertz’s preferred playing position? Kai Havertz’s preferred playing position is often as a false nine, where he excelled during his time at Bayer Leverkusen.

5. How long has Mikel Arteta been the manager of Arsenal? Mikel Arteta has been the manager of Arsenal since December 2019, taking over from Unai Emery.

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