Arsenal were in shambles when their former midfielder, Mikel Arteta took over the reins of the London club. Arteta was previously the assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City before an opportunity presented itself which was too good to let go for the Spaniard.
Mikel Arteta took charge of the club in December and since the turn of the new year, Arteta’s Arsenal have lost just two Premier League matches and have earned the third-most points in the Premier League. Despite the resurgence, they went on to finish eighth in the Premier League table, their lowest league finish since 1995.
Arteta has undoubtedly changed the culture at the club in the short time he has been at the helm and has got his squad playing for the badge of the club rather than the jersey number on the back. In this short span, he has managed to achieve the unimaginable, winning the FA Cup in his first season at the club. Here we analyse how Arteta managed to end the 2019-20 season on such a positive note.
DISCIPLINARY IN NATURE
Unlike Unai Emery who struggled to handle the likes of Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka, Mikel Arteta made it clear from the very beginning that he won’t tolerate any player who will not give their hundred per cent every day in training or out on the field. Arteta began rebuilding the club with players who are focussed on improving the culture of the football club. Players like Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi have experienced the wrath of the Spaniard. Guendouzi hasn’t played for Arsenal ever since his on-field altercation with Neal Maupay, the Brighton Hove and Albion player, in June. Ozil, on the other hand, hasn’t featured for Arsenal since the league restarted post the COVID-19 break. Arteta isn’t scared of taking bold decisions when he feels something is hindering with the club reaching its maximum potential and that has worked wonders till now.
FOCUS ON YOUTH
Mikel Arteta has a fair idea of what he wants from his team on a matchday and requires a high work rate from all his outfield players. Arteta isn’t afraid of putting his young players from the academy straight into the starting line-up given the quality these players have. Bukayo Saka, who has recently penned down a long-term contract, has been the one who has excelled under Arteta’s guidance. Others like Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock and Gabriel Martinelli have been given the opportunities they merit. These young players have shown that they belong to the highest level of football and so far the signs have been promising.
A MORE PRAGMATIC APPROACH
Former Sevilla and PSG manager Emery had a wretched time with the Gunners which saw the club go on the worst run of form since 1992. Emery was hell-bent on playing from the back even though the current players at Arsenal just aren’t good enough to play this expansive style of football. Mikel Arteta realised that as soon as he took charge and ended the season with a 3-4-3 formation which gave his team the solidity it needed to churn results out against better oppositions. This pragmatic approach saw Arsenal get unlikely wins against the current champions Liverpool, Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final and Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux. This system has helped free up club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is yet to sign a long term contract with the Gunners. Aubameyang seems to be thriving as a left-sided winger and it was quite apparent in the win against Chelsea in the FA Cup final, where he netted twice for the Gunners.
Arsenal seem to be on the right track under Arteta but still have a lot to achieve. The Spaniard is crystal clear of his philosophy and will stick to it till the very end. The first trophy under his belt will certainly be a boost for the club and has helped them qualify for the Europa League next season. Still, there’s a lot to be done to get Arsenal back to its glory days and a lot of deadwood in the club to be disposed of in the summer.
VISIT OUR BLOG TO GET YOUR FIX FOR ALL OF THE MOST CURRENT FOOTBALL NEWS STORIES & FEATURES