There can’t be many Arsenal fans who have failed to notice the improvement since Mikel Arteta arrived at the Emirates. Although according to some on social media, he has apparently made little difference.
I’ll happily argue the point with anyone who views the two games under Arteta as poor, because the former Manchester City assistant has been tasked with altering the mentality of a team that has been steadily in decline for 18 months, and fixing that was never going to be easy.
Emery managed to alienate himself from just about every talented player in the squad because he failed to know or understand them. He also couldn’t convey his tactics or ideas and ran out of ideas to organise or motivate the team.
It’s said that he would labour his tactics to the point of exhaustion and that he would continuously subject his team to theory rather than practical training, often in a room with a series of DVD data.
Thank God Mikel Arteta is not cut from the same cloth.
It would appear that the former Arsenal midfielder is more in the Guardiola mould of watching, coaching, correcting and tweaking. It’s said that he asked Freddie Ljungberg to watch the Chelsea game from a higher vantage point to highlight Arsenal’s weaknesses, which was a simple yet refreshing way to analyse the game.
It may be an unpopular statement for some but Mikel Arteta has made an immediate impact on a number of levels and although that hasn’t resulted in a win, there are other positives to be found at the Emirates:
1. Under the Spaniard, Arsenal showed an increased desire and intensity against Chelsea.
2. Arsenal’s shape was better with the midfield supporting the strikers, but also tracking back to help the defence.
3. The defence held the line and but for two dreadful individual errors, Arteta might have got something from the game.
4. The Spaniard managed to motivate players that Emery had discarded, overlooked or withdrew and as a result, Torreira, Xhaka and Ozil are looking like new players.
5. Without the ball, Arsenal looked more competitive with players closing down the space and chasing their opponents.
6. There was an obvious unity in the players who looked ambitious, driven and committed.
7. Arteta is giving the fans hope with the type of football that he is developing and he is simultaneously reconnecting with many disillusioned supporters.
8. His views on the games are compelling because of the honesty he brings to pre and post match interviews.
9. Mikel Arteta believes in speed, control and combined effort and although hampered by a shocking defence, he will build in what he has seen so far.
10. He has identified the team’s weakness and has apparently secured the financial backing of the Kroenke’s to arrest the decline.
11. He has made his demands on the players and insists that they work hard and give every ounce of effort to the team and club. He has also made it clear that he will not allow them to cruise in an Arsenal shirt.
The game against Chelsea saw a natural progression, with players understanding their roles and working together to achieve results.
Now if the Kroenke’s make good on their promises to plug the holes, Mikel Arteta will deliver over the next two or three seasons. Why that long ?
Because there are still players to come and go. Mainly go.
I’ve a good feeling about this appointment but it will only reach its potential if those behind him are willing to spend and support their man. They have no choice really !