Arsenal: Mikel Arteta defends Kai Havertz

The German has come under fire following his big-money move from Chelsea during the summer…

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has delivered an impassioned defence of summer signing Kai Havertz when speaking about the German in a recent press conference.

What’s the latest on Arsenal and Kai Havertz?
It’s not exactly been the easiest start to life for the 24-year-old in North London. Indeed, it’s easy to get the sense that many of his new supporters aren’t particularly happy with the big £65m transfer fee handed to rivals Chelsea in exchange for the player.

After all, the Emirates let out a “cry of frustration” after Havertz misplaced a pass in the Gunners’ recent 2-2 draw with Fulham, showing how little patience the fans already have for the summer signing.

With all that in mind, there appear to be doubts over the player already and manager Arteta has tried to deal with this by urging the club to show more “love” for Havertz as he finds his feet in his new surroundings.

Indeed, when speaking to the press this week (via The Mirror), he said: “It’s difficult to ask more of our supporters and our people, but my feeling is give him love and we’ll get the best out of him. I think we have some very beautiful examples in the last years with players that we have given a lot of support and got behind them, and they have felt that love and they just exploded.‌

As you can see in further footage circulated on Twitter, he then listed a number of other Arsenal players who took time to settle as well, saying: “It’s more than [Martin] Odegaard. And with Gabriel Magalhaes it was the same, and Ben White could not play as a full-back, Aaron Ramsdale wasn’t good enough for Arsenal and now we have signed another keeper and it is a catastrophe! Bukayo Saka was a left-back and now he’s a right wing. Granit Xhaka….we have so many good examples. But the players have to love what they do and they do that when they feel supported.

Finally, on Havertz, he added: ‌“His football brain, how he understands when to move, how to move, when to stay, when to run, it’s phenomenal. We are talking about a player who has already won and done a lot at his age and he’s played three Premier League games, so… calm.”

What happened with Kai Havertz?
Interestingly enough, Arteta isn’t the only one to defend Havertz in recent times. Indeed, former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand recently slammed Arsenal fans for their lack of patience.

He explained: “You guys [Arsenal fans] are all over the place. With Havertz, I understand that he might not have hit the ground running, bit like Mason Mount at Man United

“But the way that you guys are absolutely like: ‘get him out’, I don’t get it. If it was 10, 15 games, do you know what, I could see what they’re saying.

“But it’s three games you know. People need time to adjust.”

Of course, Havertz has replaced Granit Xhaka in the Arsenal lineup, so it might take him time to get used to a different midfield role but some of the underlying stats actually suggest he’d doing a better job than many realise.

After all, as you can see in the graphic below – shared on Twitter by statistician Scott Willis using data from Opta via Fbref – the German is actually outperforming his Swiss counterpart in a number of attacking areas such as goal probability added, open play key passes, progressive carries.

On top of that, he’s also doing well defensively with more aerial duels won, ball recoveries made, and less fouls committed than Xhaka – albeit from a small sample size.

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