Mikel Arteta strangely had his pre-match conference ahead of Arsenal v Sheffield United on a Wednesday for a change, which seems a little premature to me, but at least he always comes across as articulate and intelligent, something that not all Spanish coaches are able to pull off.
There is no doubt this is a very serious test for the Gunners, especially without Aubameyang who normally scores all our goals. Sheffield did lose away to Man City and Liverpool recently, but that is the only two away games they have lost so far. They are very hard to beat and Mikel Arteta is very aware of it. “I’ve been very impressed.” Arteta told Arsenal.com.
“I’ve seen a lot of games and everything is prepared. Everything they do has a real sense, they are really difficult to break down. The solidarity in their team is incredible, how hard they work for each other and they have very clear principles – in attack and in defence, restarts of play, set-pieces – with what they want to do. So it will be a very difficult test. I already warned the players today.”
That sounds exactly like the mentality that Arteta wants to instil in the Arsenal squad, and he is certain that this resilience comes from the Blades manager Chris Wilding: “The work he’s done is phenomenal and he’s done some special things as well with some movements and characteristics of how he moves his team around, and the demands that he puts on his players. What I like about a manager is when I see a team and they are a real team that fights for every single ball with their attitude and behaviour, as well as their intentions for what they want to do every time. It’s very clear what he’s trying to do, so I have big admiration for him.”
So this will be a very big test for Arteta as well as the players. Is it possible that he can get Arsenal to that level in just the few weeks he has been in charge?
We will find out tomorrow, won’t we?