Our manager isn’t the finished article. He has made mistakes in the past and he will make mistakes in the future. However the bumps in the road are becoming further and further apart.
For a young coach who’s never managed before at any level he is doing a remarkable job. When he arrived at Arsenal the club were in a terrible mess. He inherited an unbalanced and unmotivated squad of players who didn’t have a winning mentality. Many of the players were on huge contracts and they weren’t giving value for money. There was no real unity between the players and the supporters.
Mikel famously laid down his three non-
“First of all, respect. The second one is commitment and the third is passion. Those three ingredients are non-negotiable. If you have them then I am sure we will do great things together”.
Arteta then took a leaf out of George Graham’s book. He knew he had to get rid of the big names on big wages and replace them with young hungry players with the right attitude and work ethic.
There has been a massive cull with Ozil, Aubameyang, Luiz, Mustafi, Sokratis, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Mari, Bellerin, Torreira, Willock, Maitland-Niles, Chambers, Martinez and Mavropanos all leaving the club for one reason or another.
The recruitment has by and large been excellent. He made a mistake signing Willian but he has learnt from that and now seems to have a policy of only signing younger players no older than 24 or 25.
We now have a settled back four when they’re all fit of Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel and Tierney playing in front of Ramsdale. We are much more difficult to break down now. There are a lot more clean sheets. The team is so much more balanced and organised. They press the opposition and work so hard now out of possession. The players are totally on board with what Arteta is doing.
Martin Ødegaard said this about Arteta: “I felt it from the first time I spoke to him on a Zoom meeting before I signed here on loan. He was very clear on how he saw me as a player, how he could use me & what he could help me with. Ever since then, it has been very good. I have never experienced a manager who is so sharp on details & small things in the game. He helps me a lot. I think it’s fascinating & I try to get as many tips as possible. Right from the start, I had a great sense for him.”
As a match going fan I’ve noticed how much more the Arsenal fans are invested in this team. The atmosphere is a lot better than in recent years. The crowd are fully behind these players and there is now a great sense of unity between the players and the supporters.
Mikel Arteta spoke to Sky about the Emirates Stadium atmosphere: “You can feel it. You can try to tell people about it, but when you are there, you just feel it, that it’s genuine, that there is this interaction of energy & emotions. I feel a real unity between the supporters & the team.”
The recovery from losing the first three games of the season to rising to the Champions League places is impressive. We are now firmly in the driving seat for that fourth Champions League place. A point ahead of Manchester United with three games in hand, Three points ahead of West Ham with three games in hand and six points in front of Tottenham with the same amount of games. We also have a superior goal difference than all three of our rivals for fourth place. Even the bookies make us favourites odds on at 4/7 with Tottenham at 3/1, Manchester United 7/2 and West Ham at 18/1. The Gunners even have an outside chance of overhauling Chelsea. Win our game in hand and the gap is down to just two points and we still have to play them.
Looking ahead to the future and the summer us fans are all aware that the number one priority is signing a top quality striker. Of course our manager is fully aware of that as well and he is very specific when speaking to Sky about what type of striker he wants to buy “He puts the ball in the net, that’s priority number one,” he said. “Goal threat. Any successful team needs enough goal threat in the squad. Without it, you have nothing. You can play good football but you need enough goal threat in the team. The other thing is that he has to complement the other people we have, personally and on the pitch, and for that, we need the right profile. We need a profile where you can exploit his qualities at the same time as the qualities we already have, so we don’t have to transform our way of playing again to adapt to that specific player. He has to have a certain age, a certain level of experience, and he has to be able to come here and play under the pressure of being at Arsenal.”
Mikel Arteta as had a lot of criticism from some Arsenal fans and many wanted him sacked. I for one am so pleased that he’s turned it around. I think I speak for most supporters now when I say that I cannot wait for each game to come round. I love watching this young team play. They are evolving into an excellent side and Mikel deserves great credit in the way he is developing the game of these young super talented players like Saka, Smith-Rowe, Martinelli, White and Gabriel.
We are in good hands – the future is looking bright for the Gunners under Mikel Arteta.