The Gunners have continued to struggle for consistency under a new boss, but have bolstered their ranks in January and hope to have turned a corner

Arsenal’s “defence has been useless” this season, says Charlie Nicholas, with Mikel Arteta considered to have “inherited a mess” at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners turned to a familiar face for inspiration after taking the decision to part with Unai Emery.

Another Spaniard has been drafted into the dugout, with former club captain Arteta taking on the first managerial post of his coaching career.

He is considered to have offered cause for optimism across the early weeks of his reign, but consistency remains an issue for a side that has been plagued by that problem for some time now.

A leaky defence has often undermined the Arsenal cause, with holes which first appeared under Arsene Wenger yet to be plugged.

Nicholas believes things have got worse, rather than better, of late and concedes that Arteta has much work to do.

A January deal for Pablo Mari is considered to be a step in the right direction, but it remains to be seen what impact the Spaniard will have and if the Gunners really are capable of turning the corner.

Former frontman Nicholas told Sky Sports ahead of a Premier League clash with Burnley on Sunday which will see skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang return from a three-match ban: “Arsenal fans do appreciate what Mikel Arteta is trying to do, bringing appetite and energy to the team and giving his side the chance to learn from the philosophy he has brought in. The young players have bought into it.

“I think he has inherited a mess, though. To draw 12 games is a scandal and the defence has been useless. Perhaps Pablo Mari will be able to bolster it – we’ll see.

“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is coming back fresh, which could be the difference.”

Arsenal have collected just three wins with Arteta calling the shots, with only one of those coming in the English top-flight.

That inability to get over the line has left the Gunners languishing in mid-table.

They will play host to the Clarets sat 10th in the standings and 10 points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea in the final Champions League qualification spot.

With 24 games having been taken in, the north London giants are actually closer to the relegation zone – a seven-point gap – than they are the top four.


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