So we are entering a new chapter in Arsenal’s history as Mikel Arteta in is charge for his first game as coach of Arsenal, and I guess you couldn’t pick a worse time to start, with games arriving thick and fast over the festive season.
So with that in mind, it is understandable that Arteta hasn’t got much time to train the players in any new tactic, and just wants to see the players improve their attitudes on the pitch for now.
As Bernd Leno explained on Arsenal.com after our clean sheet against Everton: “It was completely different to other games, but you can see only with intensity, with mentality, we didn’t concede a goal,”
“We didn’t let them have chances, like Freddie said and the new manager. I think the lineup was very good because everybody was fighting for the team and we showed great mentality. Unfortunately we didn’t score, but I think at the end of the day we can be happy with our performance and especially with our mentality.
“We didn’t let them have any transitions like in the other games. The distances [between our defenders and their attackers] were much closer and I think this is the only way you can play, because the Premier League is too strong to have one, two or three players that don’t defend. This is the only way we can play and we can be successful.”
Although Arteta was not yet officially the Arsenal coach, he did give his speeches before the game and at half-time, and Leno gave us the gist of his advice to the players. “He didn’t speak too much about quality or about tactics, he just said he wants to see players who run, who support their team-mates, who defend the goal or in general play as a team,” Leno explained. “We understood the message against Everton.”
“We have to show mentality, we have to play good football and I think then we will have opportunities. When we just speak about tactics or quality or what was in the past, it doesn’t matter. I think the only way is that we work hard, that we get back our strong mentality and then I think I am confident we can reach our target.”
This is great to hear. Us poor Arsenal fans have seen too many games this season when we have witnessed players unable (or unwilling) to fight for the badge, so we defuinitely need a strong dose of improved mentality in the side. Let’s not clutter the players heads with changing tactics and confusing diagrams during games. Let’s just see them doing what they do best, which is playing great football and fighting for their team.