Does the data offer hope for Havertz?

Kai Havertz
Kai Havertz

Joe Bradshaw, BBC Sport

We need to talk about Kai Havertz.

Or, at least, that seems to be the viewpoint of Gunners supporters getting in touch with BBC Sport.

The £100m-plus acquisition of Declan Rice in the summer meant that £65m forked out to bring in the Germany international from Chelsea was only Arsenal’s second-most expensive transfer of 2023.

This is someone who has cost Premier League clubs upwards of £130m cumulatively but - if comments are anything to go by - is a luxury player who flatters to deceive.

And with Arsenal’s title challenge having suffered a blow with defeat at Newcastle United - with Havertz arguably lucky to escape a red card - it seems fair to ask if Mikel Arteta’s faith in the 24-year-old is justified.

At Chelsea, he was often isolated up front, ploughing a lone furrow as a centre-forward for a side that does not feature thriving strikers.

At Arsenal, he’s operated deeper, only minus the threat and influence of Martin Odegaard or the driving rigour of Rice.

Perhaps it is no surprise he is having fewer shots this season, although it is more troubling that touches-wise per 90 minutes, he is also having fewer than in all but one of his three seasons at Stamford Bridge (last year when the Blues were struggling).

Arteta has consistently backed his number 29, but surely he expected greater attacking muscle than 11 shots in the league and one goal – that being the penalty kindly handed to him by Bukayo Saka against Bournemouth - so far?

Indeed, a shooting accuracy of just 14% up to now is way down on the percentages in the mid-50s he averaged during his time at Chelsea.

Arsenal’s attacks looked laboured on Saturday and at West Ham last week, with Havertz supposed to be pulling the strings in the absence of Odegaard.

Given how he flattered to deceive at Chelsea, the fact many of his underlying numbers at Emirates Stadium are down on his Blues form should be cause for alarm for Gunners fans.

At 24, Arteta has still bought into potential - until you consider that Saka and Gabriel Martinelli are both 22 and far more effective, while Odegaard is the same age but the heartbeat of this side.

Arsenal fans are unconvinced. Premier League fans are unconvinced.

The pressure is really on for Havertz to show he is worth his manager’s faith.