Under Mikel Arteta, following The Arsenal has been a bit of a rollercaster.
From the highs of winning the FA Cup to the lows of a 7 game winless run a few months later and being bottom of the league after 3 games with no goals and no points this season.
It has not been easy under Arteta.
Some of the worst football I have seen us play mixed in with poor results. Every time we take two steps forward, we take two steps back.
A run of 8 games without defeat (6 wins, 2 draws) this season was followed by 3 defeats in 4 games. And then we went and won the next 3 games.
18 games in (just one off half way through the season) we sit 4th in the table.
I do not know how we have got there considering the start we had and the 6 defeats; but with a goal difference of just 4 we are top 4.
There is often a lot of debate whether we have progressed under Arteta. As I said above it often feels like 2 steps forward, 2 steps back. But how do we compare after 18 games against previous years?
A lot of Arteta’s detractors like to make the point that Mikel took over a side that finished 5th the season before and took us to 8th. This is a miss-truth.
When Unai Emery was sacked at the end of November 2019, Arsenal sat 8th in the league table with just 18 points from 13 games.
Arteta took the reigns following Frddie Ljungberg’s 5 game stint in charge which saw us drop to 11th, 23 points from 18 games.
Two seasons from taking over, Arsenal sit 4th after 18 games with 32 points from 18 games. It is undeniable that Arsenal are in a better position now than we were when Arteta took over.
The debate is whether we have moved forward enough, considering the money Arteta has spent.
Despite a clear improvement on the last 2 seasons, we are still 5 points behind where we were in 2018/19 – Emery’s first season.
We are also still one point behind where we were in Arsene Wenger’s final season and 5 points behind where we our total after 18 games in 2016/17 when we finished the season in 5th.
What all this highlights is how far we have fallen since Wenger left (although I do buy into the argument that he started the rot at the club; with many of the problematic players over the last 4 seasons since his departure having been signed by him).
It also highlights just how good we were in the first 6 months under Emery – level on points with the 2015/16 team that challenged Leicester City for the title for 75% of the season.
That Emery team completely fell away in the last 6 games of the season – winning just 2 of its last 7 games as Arsenal dropped from 3rd in the league to 5th and lost the Europa League Final.
Just 4 wins from the opening 13 games of the next season made it 6 wins from 20 games, a run that lost Emery his job.
1 win in 5 under Ljungber saw Arteta take over a team with 7 wins in its last 25 games. The FA Cup victory perhaps papered over what a bad place we were in,
In comparison, we have won 15 of the last 25 games under Arteta.
So what has Arteta done since taken over? He has stablised a rapidly sinking ship under Emry and returned us to where we were in those last few seasons under Wenger.
the argument could be made he is not returning us to glory quick enough; and we have had too many poor runs and performances under him.
But he is a young manager with a young team.
The ultimate question is whether our inconsisten form is due to him being that young manager, or his team being young and at time naive. Or both.
Would Arteta get more out of an experienced team? Would an experienced manager get more out of our young team?
For now, we can only say one thing for certain.
Arteta has taken us forward from December 2019 when he got the job.
The rest you can debate amongst yourselves.