Mikel Arteta sends Granit Xhaka message to Kai Havertz amid Arsenal struggles
The German is taking some time to adapt to his new midfield role.
Although the Gunners are flying high in the Premier League, they were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by West Ham in midweek and £65million summer signing Havertz gave another underwhelming display.
Despite his massive price tag, the 24-year-old has only registered one goal and one assist in 15 appearances this season – and that strike came from the penalty spot in a 4-0 win over Bournemouth.
Havertz spent most of last season playing as a false nine for Chelsea but was signed by Arteta with the intention of playing in a deeper, box-to-box role – the one that had been vacated by Granit Xhaka.
But he has struggled in the position, only ever on the periphery of matches, and in recent weeks Declan Rice has taken up the more offensive role with Jorginho at the base of midfield and Havertz on the bench.
Arteta still believes his midfield vision can come work, however, and has pointed out that Xhaka also took a little while to get to grips with the role before flourishing.
Asked about his somewhat shaky new-look midfield, and how it is evolving in the absence of Xhaka, Arteta replied: ‘Granit was a key player, he played almost every game for us.
‘We know that it is going to take some time – like it did take him [Xhaka] some time, especially when I changed his role.
‘There were a lot of questions about it and then he evolved in a great way and here it will happen the same.’
Asked if he is concerned by the form of Havertz, Arteta replied bluntly: ‘No, and I’m not gonna pull out any individual, as you’d expect.
‘We are a team and when we play at our best it’s the team, and when we don’t I am the one who is the maximum responsible for that.
‘We all need to try to improve every single day, that’s it.’
Arteta was speaking ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Newcastle on Saturday, with the Spaniard saying of the trip to St James’ Park: ‘You have to embrace the moment, enjoy it and go for it because it’s worth it. These are the arenas you want to be tested in.’
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