Tag Archives: Mikel Arteta

Arsenal playing with the handbrake on, but Mikel Arteta is the man to get us into top gear

November has been a peculiar month for Arsenal. It started with what felt like a landmark victory at Old Trafford, the Gunners’ first league win there in 14 years and it has rather stalled since.

Rather than showing definitive progress in the games that followed, Mikel Arteta’s men have struggled to shake off the inconsistency that has been a hallmark of their 2020/21 season so far, demonstrated by a record of four wins, four defeats and a draw from their first nine Premier League matches.

It would be all too easy to take a pessimistic view of the Gunners’ last game. A 0-0 draw to a newly promoted team never looks like a satisfactory score line, particularly when Leeds amassed 25 shots on goal.

However, when you factor in Arsenal’s away record against last season’s promoted clubs (Sheffield United, L, 0-1. Norwich City D, 2-2. Aston Villa, L, 0-1) and that they played the majority of the second half with ten men following Nicolas Pépé’s red card, Arteta deserves credit for being able to secure a point.

The next three matches are of pivotal importance to Arsenal, presenting a great opportunity for Arteta to gain some much-needed momentum.

Qualification as winners of Group B in the Europa League could be secured with a win at Molde on Thursday. A handsome win against Wolves on Sunday could propel Arsenal to as high as sixth before the all-important North London derby on 5 December.

Tottenham have two successive London derbies, playing Chelsea before the visit of Arsenal. Although Spurs currently sit top of the table, if they were to lose their next two league games and Arsenal were to win both of theirs, the gap between the two teams would close to just one point.

Needless to say, the next ten days could be an extremely important period, not just in the context of Arsenal’s season but in Arteta’s reign as Arsenal manager.

There is good reason to believe the Spaniard can turn things around once again. Not only did he resurrect a team that was buried in the rubble to the heights of FA Cup winners, but he has ensured that his Arsenal team will not be easy to beat.

At this stage last year, Unai Emery had overseen his last Premier League game, a 2-2 draw at home to then-19th placed Southampton, who had just been thrashed 9-0 by Leicester. Arsenal were closer to the relegation zone than the top four, already a staggering 19 points behind eventual champions Liverpool.

Freddie Ljungberg was then appointed as caretaker manager, a role which he fulfilled for almost a month, before Arteta took over.

He has since laid the foundations for future success by building a solid base. Bernd Leno continues to prove himself as one of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers, whilst Gabriel has added some much-needed steel in defence.

A pressing priority for Arteta is to get Arsenal scoring again. Although his team have looked stout and secure for the most part, they have failed to blow teams away in attack, not scoring more than twice in the Premier League since the opening day of the season.

Football fans are a fickle bunch and those currently calling for Arteta’s head will be singing his name from the rooftops in just under two weeks if he can lead Arsenal to three successive victories.

Despite recent results suggesting otherwise, there should be little doubt amongst the Arsenal faithful that Arteta is the man to lead the club forward.

Zac Campbell

Mikel Arteta more Rafa Benitez than Pep Guardiola

Each manager is his own person, has his own style, his own way of doing things. No two managers are the same, although many are similar in terms of philosophy.

Take Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola.

Both have a similar outlook on the game. Passing football heavily influenced by Johan Cruyff’s Ajax and Barcelona teams.

In Mikel Arteta, we assumed we were getting a man cut from a similar cloth.

Arteta had come through the Barcelona youth system, before a career that saw him play in 4 different countries.

He would play for, and captain, Arsenal under Wenger before joining Guardiola’s coaching set-up at Manchester City.

It is therefore a surprise to many that Arteta’s Arsenal more resemble a George Graham side rather than a Wenger.

Tough to break down. Defence first. Few chances created.

As well as Graham, Arteta’s playing style is very similar to one of his and Guardiola’s countrymen – Rafa Benitez  .

Throughout Benitez’s career, his sides have sacrificed attacking flair for solidity.

Benitez’s squads are usually renowned for their defensive nature and low number of goals scored against them.

With just 7 goals conceded this season, Arsenal have the best defensive record in the league. A huge shift from conceding 150 league goals in the previous 3 seasons.

Benitez  would set his team up to exploit opposition weaknesses, something which Arteta also does and has seen his side beat Liverpool 3 times, Manchester United twice and both Chelsea and Manchester City once.

Benitez would also play key players in unorthodox positions to suit a formation. Think Steven Gerrard playing as a winger.

Under Arteta Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been used predominantly as a winger, whilst Kieran Tierney has played as centre back. Winger Bukayo Saka has played more in a full back or wing back position than in a forward role.

At this point, some fans might be feeling a little down, a little cheated. That we have potentially recruited a Rafa Benitez rather than a Pep Guardiola.

But that is unfair on Benitez.

In a 12 year period managing Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Napoli, Benitez won 12 trophies including the Champions League, 2 La Liga league titles, 2 UEFA Cup’s, 2 domestic cups and 5 super cups.

If in a dozen years time, Arteta has that sort of trophy haul whilst at Arsenal, his name will rightly be mentioned alongside the likes of Herbert Chapman, George Graham and Arsene Wenger.

The key difference between Benitez and Guardiola is the elder Spaniard very rarely found himself in charge of the richest side in the league (bar a spell as Real Madrid manager).

Benitez had to adapt to make Valencia competitive in Spain, winning 2 La Liga titles.

Liverpool made 2 Champions League finals in 3 years under Benitez, winning one. It was during a period when Liverpool had fallen away from being a European powerhouse.

Likewise for in Italy he never managed the richest sides in the league (Juventus, AC Milan) but still won 3 trophies in 2 years.

In just 11 months, including a break for Covid19, Arteta has already led his side to 2 trophies.

It might not be the free flowing Guardiola / Wenger football we hoped for, but there are many ways to skin a cat. Many different ways to win a trophy.

I am still confident that as our improved defensive stability continues, we will begin to improve at the other end of the pitch.

And if playing Benitez style defensive football does become Arteta’s trademark, then so be it if he continues to lead his team to trophies.

No one complained about George Graham’s Arsenal when we were winning titles!

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On the March with Mikel Arteta’s Red and White Army

Is there anyone out there that still does not think Mikel Arteta is the right man to manage The Arsenal?

Arsenal have started this season where they finished off last – in fabulous form.

3 wins from the opening 3 games; 2 clean sheets.

The win over Leicester made it 6 wins in a row (if you count the victory of Liverpool in the Community Shield) and 8 wins in the last 9 games.

In that time we have won the FA Cup and Community Shield.

Arteta has now won 62.5% of all Arsenal games he has manage. For perspective:

When you consider where we were when Arteta took over, the turn around is remarkable.

Arteta’s first game was on 26th December – a 1-1 draw against Bournemouth.

Arsenal went into the game 11th in the table with just 23 points from 18 games (1.27 points per game) – 9 points off top 4.

In the remaining 20 games of the season, Arsenal got 33 points (1.65). Arsenal won the 6th most points in the league – just 1 less than Chelsea who gained 4th most.

We might have only ended up in 8th place, but that was more to do with what went on before Arteta under Unai Emery and Freddie Ljungberg.

Had we continued at 1.27 points per game, we would have finished 12th. Arteta’s 1.65 points per game would have been enough to see us 5th.

When you consider Arteta took over a team low on confidence, in poor fitness and without a game plan, the recovery was never going to be a quick one.

From January 1st, just 2 games after Arteta took over, Arsenal’s points per game shoots in to 1.77. That would have been enough to see us finish 4th.

So in the 18 games before Arteta took over, we were on course for 12th. In the last 18 games of the season, we showed top 4 form.

And it is not like Arteta had it easy during those games.

Under Arteta, Arsenal have face: Chelsea x 3, Manchester United, Manchester City, Leicester City x 2, Tottenham, Wolves and Liverpool x 3.

Of the 32 games he has overseen, 10 have been against teams that finished about us in the league. He certainly has not stay padded.

Arsenal have improved dramatically under Arteta.

You can see on the pitch we are fitter, playing to a plan, and players are engaged with Arteta. Listening to him. Following his instructions.

Compare this to Emery last season when players looked like they didn’t have a clue what they were doing.

We are at the beginning of our journey under Arteta, and in upcoming weeks we trace to Liverpool, Man City and Man U.

But we have started this season in fantastic form. And having beaten Liverpool, Man City and Man U last season under Arteta, we can go into these games looking to get a result – not wondering how much we will lose by.

If anyone is not backing Arteta, then maybe football is not really for them.

Onwards and upwards with Mikel Arteta’s red and white army.