I have always maintained if Arsenal finished in the Top Four, I wouldn’t have an issue saying that Arteta’s done a great job. Zero agenda, I just couldn’t write that when we were finishing 8th and 5th.
Whatever happens in the next 10 games (and I still would make Man City favourites) there’s going to be plenty of emotion.
Whatever happens we have made great progress.
Here below are a few examples where our manager has done well …..
Making Trossard a False Number 9
With Eddie Nketiah yet again proving he’s simply not going to consistently score goals at this level, and as I write this Jesus deemed still not fit enough to be starting in the League, Arteta wasn’t willing to gamble on Eddie.
Waiting for the striker to find his confidence again could have been the difference between us being title contenders or not.
Arteta tried Trossard in the false number 9, and instantly there was more unpredictability to our attack.
Eddie’s a goal poacher meaning he’s quite static, he’s in the penalty area waiting for a chance but not really involved in other aspects of our play.
Trossard has the footballing intelligence to alter positions, knowing when to come deep, go out wide, or even help defend. That in turns means Martinelli and Saka alternate making our front three now impossible to man-mark.
Since it’s opening in 2006 never has the Emirates consistently had the atmosphere it has produced in the last two seasons.
Of course it’s natural that the year you might lift a Prem title at the stadium for the first time, giving the ground its own history, the venue is going to be at its most noisiest.
Yet this was by design.
As evidenced by Amazon’s All or Nothing Series our manager wanted the stadia to have its own pre-match anthem. He introduces the squad to Louis Dunford’s ‘The Angel’, originally a love letter to his hometown of Islington.
Little did the 31 year know he was writing the song that would now be played before kick-off to every home fixture.
Xhaka Further Forward
Whatever the opinion on Xhaka fans have had, it’s worth noting that three full time Arsenal managers have always made him a constant in their midfield, so clearly he tactically offers something that is maybe not always obvious to the casual viewer.
One of the first things Arteta did as a manager was seeking out the Swiss captain for a chat.
Xhaka had packed his bags, prepared to leave the country, with some Gooners happy to drive him to the airport. A compromise was reached, the player would give his new boss till the summer to prove him wrong. The results were a 2nd FA Cup for the 30 year old.
On the pitch Arteta took the shackles off the midfielder, still playing him in the middle but not with the sole responsibility of being the teams DM. This would have been more apparent last season had Tomas Partey stayed fit.
Never afraid to attempt the risky pass (which is why his errors are more apparent) Xhaka can now add creativity in the final third like he does for his country, planning when to join in attacks, and adding more goals to his game then he has in any other campaign.
Off the pitch Arteta has shown maturity, not feeling obliged to force the player into an apology like Emery did. Arteta understands that both supporters and his vice-captain have their respective point of views and, as adults, neither should be pressured into saying sorry.
Every time he gets on the scoresheet it feels like a redemption story for Xhaka the man. A reward for sticking by his convictions. Whether some ‘fans’ deserve to enjoy that tale is a debate for another day.
In the last few winter windows the priority at the club had been slashing the wage bill with Arsenal only interested in loan deals.
With top 4 all but ensured, it wasn’t clear if the Kroenke Family would approve any more spending. Arteta and Edu though have won their employers trust and convinced them it was worth investing.
Realising the squad still needed as much experience as possible to help, Arteta brought in Trossard and Jorginho, two players who knew the division and wouldn’t need time to settle in.
Ben White – Right Back
One of Arteta’s tactical tweaks this season was to tweak what he requires from his full backs. So many managers over the years have made the position a crucial attacking element.
Ben White, like most right backs, is still expected to bomb down the wing, and his end product continues to improve.
Yet his manager has taken advantage of the defenders footballing intelligence.
White had demonstrated at Brighton and Leeds his versatility, but the 25 year old has the tactical understanding of knowing when to join in attacks, stay back to provide cover for Saka to roam around, or when to step into the middle to become a third centre back.
Arsene Wenger had a reputation for spotting a talent’s strengths and teaching them to play a position that wasn’t their first choice. Arteta’s doing the same with White.
Zinchenko – left back.
Another example of how Arsenal full backs offer something different compared to other teams.
As much as being a Gooner himself and a chance to work again with his former assistant coach, it’s believed Zinchenko didn’t like being played at left back at Man City, wanting to play as a DM like he does for his country.
Arteta solved that by asking the Ukrainian to start on the left, but giving him licence to step into midfield, link up play and to try and pick a pass. It takes a great footballing brain to do that.
After 6 months, teams are probably working the tactics out, but the biggest compliment I can give to the 26 year old is Pep Guardiola is now trying the same thing with his left back at the Etihad.
Any decent manager in any business adopts reflective practise.
While some Gooners can’t hear a negative word about the club they love, there is nothing wrong admitting we bottled the race for top 4 last season.
It wasn’t just the defeats at the Lane and Saint James Park, but how we played. We didn’t play like a group who had so much at stake. Mentally it was just too big a step for our Gunners. That’s understandable when you consider we had the youngest squad in the division at the time.
Our recruitment team set out the criteria to try and bring in some leaders, while respecting the club philosophy of talent being in a certain age bracket.
Whether it was a mentor doing a favour to his student or a friend looking after another, Pep Guardiola approved the sale of two of his players to us when both made it clear North London was their first choice.
Understandably Pep wouldn’t have viewed us as title contenders back in the summer.
While he maintains he has zero regrets, I don’t think any other City players are being sold to Arsenal in the near future.
Jesus and Zinchenko immediately inserted their personalities into the dressing room, with both also cheerleaders who encourage the crowd to make that extra bit of noise.
Can you think of any other massive improvements Arteta has made?
Those changes have shown that Arteta has learned a lot from his ex-bosses
As for our forwards, he could rotate them to confuse the oppositions, because each of them has his own strengths:
– Jesus is a tricky, highly-skilled and hardworking CF. He’d likely win many free kicks, corners and penalties for us, once he becomes fully fit
– Nketiah is a very good finisher. We’ll need a clinical CF in some games
– Trossard is a very good passer and seems to understand the positional play better than the other forwards. As long as he keeps making assists and goals, he needs to start in the CF position
OT: A 29-year-old EPL footballer living in Barnet just got arrested over another alleged sex offence. Partey is abroad, so I think the offender is someone else
A fan once said Arteta is clever and hungry and it’s a dangerous combination to have as he could be dangerous to Arsenal.
A keep saying the massive improvements was evident from preseason, the masterstroke was acquiring the Citizens boys I personally for some strange reasons hadn’t realize how technical and balanced was Jesus, Zinchenko could well be the signing of the season.
To follow up in the winter market with Tossard and Jorginho is just what the doctor ordered.
The fan was right our gaffer is smart and hungry but the danger he poses a nervous Pepe Guardiola think its more the Citizens at risk.
U have said it all…
I believe what Arteta has brought mostly to the club is structure and a work ethic. You don’t work your socks off in training or in games , you don’t play. Not matter how skilled or talented. He is also a great example to other clubs, that if you invest time and effort in talented youth with a sprinkling of experience you can compete with the city’s, PSG and Chelsea’s of this world.. Good on management for giving him the time and believing in the plan.
Consistency along with those two brilliant transfer windows.
Take a step back to the previous seasons and throughout them, there wasn’t consistency.
That’s what made city and liverpool so strong during MA’s first years.
Now look at how liverpool have dropped off, simply because they couldn’t find that consistency!!
Thrashing united 7-0, then losing to Brentford.
We, on the other hand, have been consistent throughout the campaign (apart from the Everton away game) despite any injuries, refereeing and / or var decisions.
What a season we are having in the PL.
For me Arsenal are favorites not man city. They are our closest rivals for now but I doubt we can let go of 5 points
Lose at Ethiad and Anfield which we always do and it’s City’s
Win at the Etihad and Anfield and it’s ours….
Win at those grounds will you say it’s ours!? We could lose the two and still win the title Dan. This guys are different animals this season am expecting a win at anfield, it’s long due
I liked the vast majority of Dans piece, save only for the usual criticism just under the “Experience” section, where, as usual, Dan could not resist his customary and wrong “bottled it” phrase.
What stood out to me was the total lack of ANY mention – deliberately so, I feel sure – of how MA TRANSFORMED THE DRESSING ROOM SPIRIT AND CREATED 100% dressing room harmony,when he kicked out those coasting scroungers Ozil and Auba – both of whom thought they had the moral right to retire on full and increased pay while still wearing our shirt, which was CHEATING US.
Likewise with the arrogant little, though big, kid, Guendouzi.
THAT immensely wise set of decisions was IMO the main catalyst that caused all the good things that followed, most of which DAN, TO HIS CREDIT, OUTLINED SO WELL.