The football fans who’ve returned to stadiums in recent weeks are widely seen as “the fortunate few”, said Tom Roddy in The Times. The 2,000 Arsenal fans at the Emirates on Sunday wouldn’t look at it that way after witnessing another disastrous night for Mikel Arteta’s team – a 1-0 loss at the hands of Burnley. That makes it four consecutive home defeats in the Premier League.
The manner of losing was almost worse than the defeat itself, said Nick Ames in The Guardian. Two key incidents encapsulated Arsenal’s current woes. The first was a moment of “inexcusable idiocy”: Granit Xhaka got himself sent off in the 58th minute for grabbing Ashley Westwood by the throat – in a mêlée he himself had provoked with a reckless foul on Dwight McNeil. Shortly after came Burnley’s headed goal. Its scorer? None other than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Arsenal’s star striker has been “desperate for a goal”, having last scored for the club on 1 November.
The scriptwriter who decided that when he finally did find the net it should be with a goal for the opposition “has a rare line in black humour”. Questions will now be asked about Arteta’s future, said Sam Dean in The Daily Telegraph, but Arsenal would be foolish to sack him. The club’s current problems are rooted in the “relentless turmoil” – characterised by a high turnover of coaching staff and regular player indiscipline – that preceded the Spaniard’s arrival last December. The comprehensive “rebuilding process” he has initiated during his brief spell at the Emirates will take time to have an effect, but in the meantime, Arteta has had some notable successes: winning the FA Cup in the summer, and engineering a “stirring victory at Old Trafford” six weeks ago. What Arsenal most need now is stability. To sack Arteta would “only serve to plunge the club back into chaos and uncertainty”.