Mikel Arteta may have sold the wrong goalkeeper: Richard Buxton
Arsenal's decision to stick with Leno between the sticks may be Villa's gain
Overachievement elevated Mikel Arteta's stock, but now it threatens to be his undoing.
In just 90 minutes, the Arsenal manager saw his currently limited capabilities exposed in a 3-1 defeat by Liverpool yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Suggestions that the visitors to Anfield will be contenders for the English Premier League's top four were undermined by their inability to give the reigning champions a genuine fright.
If reports are to be believed, the Gunners are themselves running scared, to the point that Granit Xhaka laid into his teammates' fear factor.
Arteta's early tenure at the Emirates Stadium is the definition of learning on the job.
That trial and error process has seen him leaning on past tutelage to guide the way.
Sending out a team that are an amalgam of the contrasting styles preached by Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger may appear a step in the wrong direction, yet it has seen the north London side already hoover up two pieces of silverware this year.
But it was personnel rather than philosophy that proved Arteta's downfall on Merseyside. Allowing Emiliano Martinez to join Aston Villa appears even more confusing when goalkeeper Bernd Leno continues to show alarming frailties.
Arsenal's decorated old guard are now beginning to round on the Germany international, with Tony Adams labelling him unsuitable for a team seeking to vie for a top-four place.
Leno did little to disprove the former defender's assertion; he practically gift-wrapped the ball for Sadio Mane by palming it into the forward's path for the Reds' equaliser.
His attempts to play out from the back against the intensity of Juergen Klopp's team, similarly, should have come with a health warning for fans of the FA Cup holders.
Cutting through the press suited Arsenal when they came up against Liverpool in their previous EPL outing in mid-July and the Community Shield last month.
On both occasions, however, it was Martinez who stood between the sticks, instead of Leno.
At the other end of the pitch, Arteta also has poor contingency options, with the usually reliable pair of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette noticeably off-key.
Tying down Aubameyang to a new long-term contract was considered a coup after the striker revealed he had snubbed an offer from Barcelona to stay in the English capital.
Were the Catalan giants still harbouring regrets over their failed alleged interest in the Gabonese talisman, his failure to touch the ball more than twice inside Liverpool's penalty area throughout the first half may have eradicated those potential doubts.
Lacazette, too, did not inspire confidence despite opening the scoring after Andy Robertson had fluffed his lines when attempting to clear the ball from danger.
Had he been more proficient in front of goal, Klopp would have faced a far more challenging task than taking issue with Roy Keane's post-match critique from the television studio.
These are the conundrums that Arteta must solve before the transfer window closes next week.
No amount of midfield stockpiling will atone for a quality deficit elsewhere.
Lyon's Houssem Aouar and Atletico Madrid's Thomas Partey - the Gunners' reported targets - may provide stability in the middle, but Arsenal cannot afford to neglect the most crucial areas points will be won and lost this term.
Until now, Arteta has punched above his weight. Preventing a bloodied nose from turning into a knockout blow will show whether he is the real deal or a pale imitator.