Just before Christmas, Mikel Arteta will have occupied the Arsenal hot seat for a year. As his first 12 months in management draw to a close, there have been highs and lows for the rookie boss who previously served as an assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
In celebration of this upcoming anniversary, we take a look at four key games of ex-Gunners captain Arteta’s reign so far. Do you remember these successes for the Arsenal?
1 January 2020 – First win as a manager
When a new boss comes into a club, it tends to get a reaction from the players. Given the busy festive fixture list, Arteta didn’t exactly hit the ground running with away draws at Everton and Bournemouth followed by a home defeat to Chelsea.
The visit of Manchester United to the Emirates, however, proved fourth time lucky for the fledgling manager. First-half goals from Nicolas Pepe and Greek defender Sokratis downed the Red Devils. Arteta was up and running, with Arsenal going on to be eighth in the Premier League. They are expected to better that this season as they are 4/7 when you bet on football on Betfair.com for a top-six finish.
15 July – Thwarting champions Liverpool
While the Gunners couldn’t stop Liverpool from claiming a first league championship in 30 years – one which they’re 7/5 to hold on to – they did dent the Anfield outfit’s bid for a record points tally in the Premier League era. Arteta’s team showed great character to come from behind here.
Sadio Mane gave Liverpool the lead on 20 minutes, only for Arsenal to reply through Alexandre Lacazette after a rare error from Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk. Reiss Nelson then completed the turnaround after a poor clearance by Allison. It’s easy to let Liverpool off here and call it a hangover from their title celebrations. The other side of the coin is that Arteta got the perfect response from his players after that early setback.
18 July – Semi success over City
The obvious feature of Arteta’s reign to date is their victorious FA Cup campaign. Whatever you make of having the semi-finals at Wembley, this had all sorts of subplots attached.
Chief among them was Arteta facing the club who had employed him on their backroom staff for three years before striking out on his own in management. Man City took a gamble on not replacing Vincent Kompany when the Belgium defender left the Etihad the previous summer and it’s something that still holds them back from being clear favourites for the Premier League – they’re joint 7/5 with Liverpool. His absence was ruthlessly exposed by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose brace knocked out the holders. It was then just a matter of wait and see whether Chelsea or Manchester United would play Arsenal in the final…
1 August – FA Cup glory
It was London rivals Chelsea that stood between rookie manager Arteta, his Gunners side and silverware. Aubameyang again proved the match winner as Arsenal lifted the FA Cup for a record 14th time here.
This was far from plain sailing. Arteta again saw character from the players to get back into a big game after falling behind early on. Christian Pulisic put Chelsea in front inside five minutes.
Aubameyang struck at key points in the match – approaching half an hour and just entering the final quarter – as the Gunners came back at the Blues. They’re 10/1 to retain the trophy but that will be seen as more of a challenge than a realistic assessment of their chances. Arteta has also pulled off a famous away win in Premier League action at Manchester United recently, so long may these big results continue.
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