Richard Buxton: Pressure mounting on Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta
Lack of goals & clean sheets have contributed to Arsenal's worst-ever EPL start
Mikel Arteta insists he does not fear for his future as Arsenal manager, but he should.
Less than a year into the job, the vultures are again circling above the Emirates Stadium after a 2-1 defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Since replacing Unai Emery last December, Arteta has produced tangible success as well as presided over the Gunners' worst-ever start to an English Premier League season.
They have recorded a paltry 13 points from their first 10 top-flight fixtures and simultaneously gifted Wolves a maiden win in the red half of north London since 1979.
Sifting through the wreckage of his predecessor, now riding high in La Liga with third- placed Villarreal, afforded Arteta a free pass during a half-season of low expectations.
Wolves' visit coincided with the 12-month anniversary of Emery's departure; an act considered justified during a time when Arsenal were languishing eighth in the EPL and 19 points adrift of Liverpool, the erstwhile runaway leaders, after 13 matches.
Even then, Emery had garnered three more points from his opening 10 games than the man who ultimately replaced him. Such remains the unpredictable nature of this season, the gap from Arsenal's 14th spot to Tottenham Hotspur at the summit is still eight points.
Not that Arteta looks remotely like masterminding Arsenal to a left-field title surge, especially with a North London Derby against their bitter local rivals coming up this weekend.
Star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's ongoing struggles are heavily aligned to his side's failures, with a solitary EPL goal coming since he signed a new three-year contract in September.
The Gabon international is not simply failing to hit the target, but he also does not appear capable of finding it when such opportunities present themselves from open play. Neither do his teammates.
In total, Arsenal have peppered opposition defences with 95 shots this term but have successfully reached the goalmouth 10 times.
For all his faults, throwing playmaker Mesut Oezil into the mix could have been Arteta's fallback plan when his one-eyed attacking strategy finally came home to roost.
Yet the 2014 World Cup winner is neither used nor an ornament after being consigned to a season-long exile.
Statistics at the other end of the pitch make for equally unpleasant reading. Arsenal have failed to record a clean sheet in eight successive home outings, a situation which will be exacerbated once supporters make their long-awaited return later this month.
Arsenal's fans are hardly known for their patience, having railed against both Emery and Arsene Wenger at the first signs of trouble. With 2,000 soon to receive the dubious distinction of witnessing this horror show in-person, the backlash will not be pretty.
Dissenting voices shouting at Pep Guardiola's one-time assistant are likely to be amplified far more in a cavernous stadium than swirling amid conflicting opinions at full capacity.
Arteta had been well versed about what would happen before he made the quantum leap from Manchester City's backroom staff to the Emirates' unforgiving hot seat.
At a different club, he may well have lived up to the hype of being Guardiola's heir.
Instead, the Spaniard chose to follow his heart over his head and continues to do so.
Arsenal's latest winter of discontent might just be starting, but Arteta is already facing the beginning of the end.
If failure follows, he cannot say it came without forewarning..