The Arsenal manager had hoped to reinvent Havertz as an attacking midfielder and has stationed him in the role in which Granit Xhaka thrived last season, but he has failed to hit the ground running and has looked ill at ease with the tactical demands of his new manager.
Indeed, the Gunners only began to look a more coherent attacking force in last week’s chaotic 2-2 draw against Fulham after Havertz was withdrawn 10 minutes into the second half.
Arteta, however, remains adamant that the second most expensive signing of his tenure will come good and insists the lack stability in a side which has been forced to cope with a spate of injuries and suspensions already this term has hardly helped his adaptation process.
‘He can play in so many different roles and play it so well,’ said Arteta in praise of Havertz’s versatility ahead of Sunday’s showdown against Manchester United.
‘He has a football brain, how he understands when to move, how to move, when to stay, when to run. It’s phenomenal. At the moment, it’s true that he’s played with three different people behind him (Jurrien Timber, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Jakub Kiwior) and they are the ones that have to make him good.
‘These guys depend on the ones in the back. I was a midfielder, if, the two central defenders are like this [with their eyes closed] and they give you the ball all the time to the wrong foot at the right time with the wrong pace. Disaster, I look bad. If I have good players behind me they make life much easier. So let’s do that.’
Arteta, meanwhile, urged the Arsenal fans who displayed signs of impatience with Havertz last weekend to remain patient and reminded them that the club’s recent history is littered with examples of players who have become firm favourites after slow starts.
‘It’s difficult to ask, especially our people in our stadium and our supporters for more, but my feeling is, give him love and we will get the best out of him,’ he said.
‘I think we have some very, very, very beautiful examples in the last few years with players that we have given a lot of support and be behind them and give them love and they have felt that and they just have exploded. A lot of good examples.
‘So I will stick to that because not everybody is going to be willing for Arsenal to do well. But the ones that really by heart and soul, they really want the best for the club, let’s do it because there is a lot there to give us.
‘It took more than two months [for Odegaard]. And with Gabriel Magalhaes, it was the same. Ben White could not play as a full-back, he could not play as a full-back.
‘Aaron Ramsdale wasn’t good enough..and now we have signed another keeper [David Raya] and it’s a catastrophe [in the eyes of some]. But Aaron Ramsdale wasn’t good enough for Arsenal. Bukayo Saka was a left-back and now he’s playing at right-wing.
‘Granit Xhaka…we have so many examples, good examples. But the players have to love what they do. And I think they love more what they do when they feel supported.’
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