Fading away in the Premier League title race last season – the juggernaut of Manchester City unsurprisingly crowned as top-flight champions once more after the Gunners had battled toe-to-toe – Arsenal have not let any festering disappointment from that collapse impact their performances in the infancy of this new campaign.
Mikel Arteta’s North Londoners are currently unbeaten in the league to date, only suffering one defeat in all competitions so far this season when travelling to France to face off against RC Lens in the Champions League and leaving empty-handed in a 2-1 loss.
Their most impressive victory of the season so far has to be their 1-0 victory over Pep Guardiola’s Man City, Guardiola’s understudy in Arteta – Arsenal’s Spanish boss once assistant to Pep at the Ethiad – masterminding a gritty win as boss over the side that pipped them to the top-flight honours in May.
Still, not everything is rosy with the Gunners to date. New recruit Kai Havertz has yet to get going in an Arsenal strip, concerns surrounding the German’s quality growing with fellow midfielder Martin Odegaard also underperforming of late.
How is Odegaard performing this season for Arsenal?
Compared to last season’s high standards, the Norwegian midfielder – who now has the responsibility of wearing the captain’s armband for the Gunners – hasn’t been quite as instrumental for Arsenal in games this campaign so far.
It is why his current performances feel so underwhelming in contrast and might be why Arteta didn’t even use him as a substitute against Sheffield United last time out, the Gunners convincingly dispatching of the Blades 5-0 even without their main creator centrally.
His displays in recent matches show a player running somewhat on empty, Odegaard nowhere near his best in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw at Chelsea in their last away outing – not even registering a single shot on goal at Stamford Bridge all game per Sofascore, the Gunners bailed out by late impact man Leandro Trossard who netted the crucial equaliser.
Yet, even with his three goals and one assist from nine contests, the 24-year-old ace is still head and shoulders above Havertz who is frustrating another set of football supporters in London after departing Chelsea.
How is Havertz performing this season for Arsenal?
Raising eyebrows at the time, Havertz’s move to the Emirates for £67.5m felt make or break for the misfiring German after a poor couple of seasons at Stamford Bridge.
“Underwhelming for far too long” in a Chelsea shirt before moving on, according to football journalist Jai McIntosh, Havertz is yet to prove his critics wrong for Arteta’s men with his recent performances for the Gunners just giving his naysayers more ammunition.
Averaging a sub-par 6.89 rating for the Gunners from their first 10 games per Sofascore, his only goal so far for his new employers came from the penalty spot versus AFC Bournemouth – Arsenal cruising at 3-0, Havertz afforded the opportunity to convert the penalty to boost his wavering confidence.
Against Sheffield United, Havertz could not capitalise on the Blades’ frailties in defence and help himself to a second goal in Arsenal colours.
The German attempted one shot all game and missed a ‘big chance’, per Sofascore, hitting his effort wide as an Eddie Nketiah hat-trick helped Arteta’s men seal an emphatic win versus the Premier League’s basement club.
Arteta will still have everything crossed that Havertz can kickstart his career in North London soon, the 24-year-old finding life in the Premier League hard.
But, as was the case with Granit Xhaka and many more that Arteta improved last season with the Gunners, all hope should not be lost that the dud can reach new heights and live up to his billing as the next best thing after starring with Bayer Leverkusen as a youngster.
However, for now, the ex-Chelsea man is worse than Odegaard and is yet to prove that he has the ability to score or assist goals on a regular basis in the way that the Norwegian ace did last season, which is why he must be ditched from the XI for now.