Analysis of Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal career so far

Arteta has recently come under a lot of scrutiny, some justified, but a lot has been completely over the top. I just want us to take a quick overview of his Arsenal managerial career so far. Obviously results only tell half the story. Performances is where we can really see what’s working or not. Put simply, our defence is now the best it’s been in well over a decade, but our attack is the worst it’s been in well over two decades.

Despite our poor attack though, we have seen a monumental improvement against top opponents, not just in terms of results, but the collective performances as well. Looking ahead, this bodes well for Arteta, because he’s pretty much solved the toughest area first, which is competing and beating the big boys, and winning trophies. Gone are the days of us getting regularly torn to shreds against a decent team. Even in defeat, we are now competing. Imagine what more Arteta can do once he has more of his own signings? He just needs to solve the issue of our attacking when the onus is on us against the so called “lesser teams”.

So, let’s take a quick look at Arteta’s record so far:

Arteta total games played – P42 W24 D8 L10 F56 A39

Notable achievements


FA Cup Winners
Europa League Qualification

20/21 (So far)

FA Community Shield Winners

Against the big six

Liverpool 0-0 Arsenal (4-5 pens) Carabao Cup, Round of 16
Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal
Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool (5-4 pens) FA Community Shield, Wembley
Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool

Man Utd 0-1 Arsenal
Arsenal 2-0 Man Utd

Man City 1-0 Arsenal
Arsenal 2-0 Man City FA Cup Semi-final, Wembley
Man City 3-0 Arsenal

Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea FA Cup Final, Wembley
Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal
Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea

Spurs 2-1 Arsenal

Total games against the top six – P13 W7 D1 L5 F15 A16

Those are some excellent statistics for someone who only took over halfway through last season, with the club in absolute turmoil, and a dreadful, unbalanced, and lazy squad! Add to that, the brilliant performance against Man Utd, which was our first away win against one of the big six in 5 years, and first win at Old Trafford in a whopping 14 years! That victory alone could act as a springboard to further victories away from home.

As I said earlier, positive results don’t necessarily mean we’re heading in the right direction. Emery went on a fantastic unbeaten run early on, yet it all fell apart. But the difference between him and Arteta, is that with Arteta’s Arsenal, we can see there is a plan. We have an identity, and a manager who is consistent with his decisions. Emery struggled to put his imprint on the club, even in victory, it didn’t always seem right, but Arteta seems to be instilling a new culture. As with any cultural changes, this will take time, especially given the state the club has been in.


Tags Arteta


  1. Arteta did well since he came in, no doubt about that, but some decision he made will bring him down this season, Mark my words.

    To begin with, I expected the loss against Villa. If you look their loss against Southampton, they did very well and scored 3! I mean 3 and if the game could have extended I can bet they’ll have won it. Next they were coming a team who have not scored a premier league goal for three consecutive games. I knew they’ll score goals and we’ll not. To me I expected this.

    His decision to go for Leno at the expense of Martinez was the blander of the season whether you like it or not. Remember those trophy wins and against bigger teams were 90% the mastermind of Martinez and he has replicated his form at Villa. He has transformed Villa to premier League contenders. His decision not to include Ozil in the squad is confusing. If he knew Ozil was not in his plans, why didn’t he release him to free up space for his replacement? His wages were almost enough to pay for his contract. His decisions making is wanting to say the least.

  2. its astonishing how facts like games played, wins, losses, draws, goals for/against, against big six
    etc. could be interpreted in such different ways depending on the subjective/objective view of the interpreter..
    i see the same stats as ThirdManJW and all I see is bad stats in the PL, the only thing which speaks for Arteta is the FA Cup (which is good but not the aim of arsenal) and the win against Man United at Old Trafford except that we didnt perform against the big six in the PL

    if we analyze all the games against the big six in the PL its as bas as we have always been and our performance against the lesser side is shocking.. so i dont know how the author thinks that there are positive results and a good plan.. with this mentality we will keep being 5th-8th in the PL

    1. He said I am still trying to find my best side how long does it take him. He keeps changing the side,,even if we won. The golden rule do not change a winning side

  3. Not really a poor statistics. Though statistics can be deceiving sometimes.
    Arteta is a good coach. He just needs to master his best starting 11.
    There is still a lot of games to be played this season, enough time to gather good result.

    I will love to see a good reaction in the game against Leeds.

  4. Nice article but that is not the true picture, in case you haven’t noticed arteta post covid is different from arteta pre-covid. We were playing a free flowing 4231 with every player picking form pre covid, even mustafi, xhaka, luiz, pepe, auba, laca, ozil played well too. After covid, arteta switch to a 343 which is more or less a 523. We became extremely defensive and flat. It worked in the cup games against the big attacking teams but some of us knew long term we are in big trouble with this formation. It doesn’t encourage creativity or fluidity in anyway and virtually all the players are out of form which is no coincidence. Even saka is losing form very fast. Imagine arsenal playing at home with 5 at the back against dundalk and molde. Auba couldn’t muster a shot at home against aston villa. The issue now is arteta is too stubborn to change it again. if you love arsenal, start praying now.

  5. I think it is important that people realise that MA is a rookie manager and I mean no disrespect here when i say that, it is just fact and here’s why we should all be patient with him.

    He is still in his 1st year as a manager.
    So he is by no means the finished article in that sense. He will make mistakes as any manager or coach has in their careers.

    Wenger, Klopp, Pep, Sir Alex, Moureen. You name it they have all made big mistakes in their careers.
    It’s about how they learn from them and evolve and move forward.

    We all know the squad is rubbish and not in a million years would they be able to compete realistically with the now bigger teams in England and Europe, we have quantity but lack quality.
    We do have some and it is a few top players and some that have immense potential, but for MA its a work in progress, we will have some setbacks this season and I am sure the villa result wont be the last, its just how MA deals with it.

    From reading through alot of garbage on this forum from people commenting on various articles, it seems that many think we should have instant success as we won the CS and FA cup in the last few months.

    Wake up people, we have a real quality coach here and he needs us to be patient and back him, let him make the mistakes that he needs to, hes a very smart and driven person who I am 100% sure will make our great club great again.

    1. Val…

      I applaud your comments and all the points made with every sense of respect to you, particularly for your ability to be so thoughtful. You have made several brilliant observations that are indeed correct, and I cannot pass by without commending you.

      I cannot say any more than you have said, but only to encourage those who prefer to align more the blips in the results obtained thus far. Take a look at the losses this season and we would notice that the team competed to a large extent. Indeed, it could have been different in the Liverpool game if Laca had taken his golden chance, same in the Mancity game, and in the Leicester game. I must say that up until Partey was substituted, we really had our chances and could have competed better in the Aston villa game. I feel many should rewatch the first half of that game and you would see we competed better. However, we fell apart in the second half following the gulf created by Partey’s absence. It only means that once the spine of the team is preserved, we will do well. Arteta should be given a chance to figure out the solutions, which can only be observed with time and per game.

      Lastly, my credit to TMJW for the efforts to encourage and motivate an inflamed Arsenal fan base. My take is that statistics are only as dependable as the sample size from which they are gleaned. I totally agree that Arteta must be given some time during which we would have a larger sample size to make better conclusions. In the mean time, the little sample size may be interpreted from different points of bias.

      In my opinion, I am convinced the process is right, and we will improve in the end and the results will become encouraging with time…

      Let’s be positive despite the last blip…


    2. Val The honeymoon period is over why don’t he stop looking abroad for players waiting for them to get up to EPL standard there are very good players in the EPL even the young Gunners give them a chance Auba has not been the same since he signed the contract rest him if he has the balls too

  6. Not sure I agree with being any better against the top 6
    We have always over the years beat the odd big team in cup
    Be like saying in Wengers last year our record against top 6 improved due to beating Chelsea in community shield and Leauge Cup

  7. Too much negativity being heaped on Arteta at present for my liking. It’s not the usual and expected lost match disappointment, but more complete amnesia for what he has already achieved in such a short time. Lest we forget, Arsenal were verging on a relegation battle a year ago with mutinous players and a manager out of his depth in our league. Is it right to cast aside the overall defensive improvements or to ignore the rehabilitation of Xhaka and Mustafi? The Cup win? Finances at the club appear to have been mismanaged previously and much needed changes are being made at executive level to get the club on a better footing. Gabriel and Partey will no doubt prove to be fantastic signings and when the out of contract players leave in the summer Arteta will be able to bring in upgrades. There are academy players breaking through bit by bit and Martinelli to come back from injury. I think there are positive signs ahead and I DO fully expect MA to cock up from time to time but please name me a manager who hasn’t. There has been too heavier weight of expectation placed on his shoulders. Too many people have forgotten that they needed to give him time. Obviously for some, 11 months is long enough

    Slightly off topic,
    Gary Lewin was discussing injuries and fatigue that have occurred since the new season with games being sandwiched in and with no proper closed season in which to recover. He felt that it won’t necessarily be the best football that wins the league this year but which team can manage fatigue and injury best. There have been many unexpected results so far and with LiVARpool already facing a decimated defence due to injury and Arteta previously referring to fatigue then there may well be a hint of truth in that. Arsenal are still in the Carabao Cup and of course, the EL and this is particularly important this season for how Arteta manages all the competitions

  8. Mostly on this site there are black and white views. Pro Ozil vs anti Ozil, Pro Wenger vs Anti Wenger and now the same split is happening with Arteta. Yet it is possible to see weaknesses in managers without being ‘anti’ that person. In the case of Arteta we can see something in his character that is very over cautious and because of that he reacts vy over-controlling the natural instincs and creativity of the players. The players have to fulfil exact roles and not veer outside their role. What Arteta through this increased caution has managed is to improve is the defence. But this had led to over control, to almost control freak levels, of the players creativity. The players are suffocating and unable to express themselves spontaneously. Just sideways slow passing. Zzzzzzz. So we are now as uncreative as I have ever seen an Arsenal team going as far back as the 50’s. If Arteta could see the failings of his own character and promote self expression instead he could mirror Brendan Rogers and have an extremely creative football team who strive to entertain….and win.

  9. I agree in general with the above and fully support Arteta. A roughly even record against the big6 so far is a good foundation to build on.
    Saying that, I agree stats can be manipulated for whatever purpose we want them to be. To be fair, we should see stats for other big6 during same period. Also some would argue that it’s our performance against other 13 teams that’s hurting us. Examples of Aston Villa and Leicester just recently. If we could be about even against big6 but win those other games, we would surely be contenders!

  10. Another good and positive article TMJW.

    I believe that we should all remember what Arteta has achieved since he took over in December – no need to go through it all again, just remember the despair!!!

    Mikel will never please all of the fans all of the time, but what manager ever has?

    He’s under the spotlight 24/7 and in a goldfish bowl – I don’t envy him one little bit….but I’ll still query his decisions, even though I haven’t got a clue myself!!!

    Keep up the good work Mikel, 100% behind you.

  11. So then, TMJW, all we need to do now is improve our home form and against ‘lesser’ opposition 😂😂
    And before I’m lynched, I’m only having a laugh….tbh, everyone has caught up, so there is no such thing as smaller/lesser teams now! Easy games are a thing of the past!!
    Take one game at a time, baby steps and all that and look forward to what the future holds under MA…. I wonder if we’ll ever be sponsored by Lego 😆

  12. TMJW – To fairly assess the performance of the manager to date, we need to take a closer look at absolute turmoil – just one of your many astute observations.
    We have recently ousted the head of football operations, we have gutted our scouting staff, there is no chief executive (that we know of) Edu is still new and struggling the find his feet, the chief contract negotiator has resigned, 55 staff were terminated and our highest paid and longest serving player is distracted by a highly contentious ruckus with the club. And for the sake of simplicity, I have ignored our significant loss of matchday revenues due to the virus.

    Despite the many challenges, including the difficult schedule, front-loaded with difficult games, our new manager has over-performed since his appointment. Mistakes have been made along the way, but this is an integral part of the transition process.

    To close the gap between our club and other top clubs in the likes of Bayern and LFC, we now need to surround the manager with an effective executive leadership team and new processes to improve decision making throughout the organization – in essence, putting the horse before the cart.

    Any discussion regarding managerial changes at this time would be premature in the extreme and, in my view, suicidal.

  13. If he was a real manager he could never choose Leno for Martinez. Terrible mistake . Arsenal is trapped now. I hope he be sucked before Christmas and the next season we will go for the far and away real thing, the Southampton’s manager.

  14. We were bad against the big six in league and we are still as bad no improvement there. You have tried to paint a prettier picture the way you have composed the results. Of course if you win the cup you can only do this by winning against the teams you play. You have also posted results of carabao cup which we won on penalties against Liverpool babies and community shield win which no one takes serious. Next are you going to put up results for friendlies as well, tell us how much we have improved and how good MA has been.

    1. my thoughts exactly! even Wenger won against the big 5 in cup competition. Arterta league record is bad. p9 (W3D1L5)

  15. Arteta has to make definite changes, the first and foremost being switching to a 433 system. The attacking trend should not be stifled and players should be given freedom to express themselves.

  16. I totally agree with the above why dont he give the young gunners a chance he did with SAKA and looked what happened 5*

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