When is too much, too much for Arsenal fans?
Was it spending £25m on a back-up goalkeeper just 12 months after letting a better back-up goalkeeper leave for just £17m? Was it naming a player who you’d tried all summer to sell as captain, less than a year after he told fans to “f*** off” after being substituted following another dreadful performance?
Was it being humbled by a team who had never played in the Premier League before? Or getting held up against a locker and robbed of their lunch money by Romelu Lukaku? Or any of the five goals conceded against Manchester City? Or the congratulatory pat on the backside from the manager to the aforementioned player, who got a new contract after not being able to be sold, was sent off for the most reckless of two-footed challenges?
And that’s just if you became an Arsenal fan in the last 16 days.
Watch the best European Football with beIN SPORTS on Kayo. Live coverage from every round of LaLiga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 & more. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >
The Gunners have experienced plenty of lows over the last decade or so, and while this might seem like its rock bottom, there is still plenty more time for more things to go wrong.
At 20th in the Premier League with no goals scored and nine conceded, they literally can’t fall any lower.
During the transfer window, no club has spent more money on transfer fees than Arsenal, including Manchester United who have brought in Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo for less than the Gunners have spent on Aaron Ramsdale, Martin Odegaard, Ben White, Albert Lokonga and Nuno Tavares.
All three of Manchester United’s signing are addressing glaring issues in their team in the immediate term, yet despite Arsenal’s problems appearing more pressing, only two of their five signings will go straight into the first team and none will make the immediate impact so desperately needed.
Manager Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu are essentially picking out bathroom fittings before having any idea on the floorplan of the house.
Ten of the players who were at the club under Arsene Wenger were involved against Manchester City on the weekend, only three others who played had arrived after him – that’s how poor the recruitment has been over the last three years.
Players who were surplus to requirements are being called upon for the biggest matches. Granit Xhaka was sent to the Euros with a big ‘for sale’ sign slapped across his forehead, while Saed Kolasinac spent last season out on loan and Arsenal did all they could to make it permanent this time around.
Both started against Manchester City.
It’s such a disaster that even Willian wasn’t willing to stick around for the final two years of his contract, forgoing the £20m owed to him in wages in order to get out early and head back to Brazil.
“At this moment, Arsenal can’t attract the top, top players, because players want to go to the better performing teams,” ex-Premier League defender Micah Richards said. “When you say they’ve spent a lot of money, they’re buying second-tier players, or players with good potential who could become that.
“You should think that the manager’s got some input in the players that they’re getting. With Arsenal now, they’ve got themselves in such a rut, they’ve done a couple of panic buys.
“They’ve been trying to control the finances, and gone out and spent £132m. No disrespect, Ramsdale’s had three relegations in his career. They’re signing for the future, it’s almost as if they’ve conceded they’re not going to get world-class players.
“Unfortunately, buying young players is going to cost Arteta his job because he’s not going to be able to do the business.”
But it’s not just the transfer business which is the issue, with Arteta, the man once tipped to continue Pep Guardiola’s legacy at Manchester City, unable to impress any discernible identity on the team.
Having topped the class in Guardiola’s school of tiki-taka football, all 14 Manchester City players involved in the 5-0 thumping – goalkeeping Ederson included – completed more passes than Arteta’s Arsenal players.
It is Arsenal’s worst start to a season in 67 years and there are no signs of anything improving.
“I feel numb,” club legend Martin Keown said on BT Sport. “It is becoming a little bit embarrassing. Tactically the way we set up is very naive.
“What are the tactics? I’m left scratching my head at times. It should be simplistic, if it’s difficult for me to understand it, how are the players going to react to all the changes that are taking place? At the moment Arteta isn’t sure and nor are the players.
“It feels like we have a manager who is conducting an experiment within games. It’s too complex. The goals were comical. This is a really sad day for Arsenal Football Club.”
Keown’s fellow pundit on BT Sport, Joe Cole, was equally damning, adding: “The club is in disarray. Shambolic performance.”
“This is something that’s been on the cards for Arsenal for ages. Arteta has a hell of a job on his hands.”
Shortly after Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United was confirmed, hours before Arsenal’s drubbing at the other Manchester club, a video went viral of a Portuguese reporter asking a man if he was a Cristiano Ronaldo fan.
“No, I’m an Arsenal fan,” the man replied.
The reporter pushed on, saying: “Cristiano Ronaldo will play for Manchester United, a rival from you, no?”
“Not really a rival, no,” the man answered, “our rivals are now Brighton. But he will play in the same league, yes.”
Brighton have six points from three games this season and it’s tough to make a case for Arsenal even being on their level at this moment in time.
Arsenal’s current level is Norwich City, who they face next in a career-defining game for Arteta. It could be his last.