After just three games in charge it looks as though the former Manchester City number two Mikel Arteta has galvanised the red side of North London following his side’s impressive 2-0 win over Manchester United on New Years Day. Despite only picking up one point from Arteta’s first two games in charge, the levels of energy from the Arsenal players seem to have picked up considerably. Which was evident for all to see as they convincingly saw off a United side that simply wasn’t trying as hard as they were. Conversely Arsenal, by displaying the high pressing style that the majority of the top teams around the world now employ, are beginning to show some shoots of recovery after what had been an awful few months for the club following the painful demise and eventual sacking of former boss Unai Emery.
Some fans may have turned their nose up at the idea of Arteta’s appointment, who had no previous experience in the managerial hot seat before taking one of the hottest perches in modern sport. Yet with a lack of options following Carlo Ancelotti’s surprise move to Merseyside and names such as Massimiliano Allegri probably unavailable until the summer, the Arsenal board had to move quickly to rectify what was becoming an ever toxic season and situation. And though it is still extremely early days, it looks as though they may very well have picked the right man to rebuild the club’s confidence both on and off the pitch.
As even in defeat to Chelsea in Arteta’s first home game in charge, many noted Arsenal’s much improved levels of well, running. From front to back, from Ozil to Xhaka, Arsenal hunted the ball and disallowed Frank Lampard’s side to settle, even forcing Lampard to change his formation after half an hour. Despite fading fairly badly in the latter parts of that game, the message put unto the players by Arteta was clear. This was an Arsenal team practically unrecognisable from the latter days of Unai Emery, especially in regard to trying to win the ball back. It would be lazy to say that Arteta is looking to wholly replicate what Pep Guardiola demands of his own players but Arteta’s time at Man City will clearly be called upon in his early days as Arsenal boss.
Emery’s time at the club was plagued with sagas over Mesut Ozil and then Granit Xhaka, with the former in particular essentially frozen out of the squad even though he is one the highest earners in British football. Though the German playmaker has started every game under Arteta and got a rare ninety minutes under his belt versus Manchester United. Clearly Arteta sees the value in Ozil’s talent and has perhaps asserted to him that if he improves the defensive side of his game that he will be a first team regular once more, a trade off that works for both men. Even Xhaka, following his infamous stripping of the captaincy after reacting to one too many boos from his own fans has been told that he is not surplus to requirements. Arteta has stated that he wants Xhaka to stay and clearly is giving anyone in his squad who buys into his ethos a second chance.
Of course, with just four points from three games under their new boss Arsenal haven’t quite turned a corner just yet. However, the signs do seem very good and the aforementioned shoots of recovery are already evident. An interesting post match comment from David Luiz after the United victory hinted that Arsenal’s squad have a long way to go physically in order to be where they need to be to meet Arteta’s demands for ninety minutes. Which if anything showcases how flat Unai Emery’s reign at the club had become. Arsenal are running around a lot more, Ozil is playing well and the fans have hope in their hearts once more. Though you imagine there will be plenty more bumps in the road for Arsenal as they look to close the gargantuan gap that has opened up between them and the top sides in Europe.
If you enjoyed this article or any others on thesixyardring feel free to like/share/RT them or alternatively mention them to friends as you all wonder how the hell Arteta convinced the Arsenal players to run about a bit.