By: Sophie Ryan,
There is no doubting that Arsenal is the favourite to win the Premier League title. The Gunners’ resurgence under Mikel Arteta has been impressive, with the North London giants proving many doubters wrong following a dismal end to the campaign last season. As Arteta’s side has shown so far this season, though, failure to make the Champions League qualification spots last season has clearly been used as motivation to kick further on this time around.
Arsenal is a club on the up, with the man who was appointed as assistant coach to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City being largely credited with the notable turnaround. The moaning YouTube fan channels and toxic banners that stunk out the Emirates have been replaced by a wave of optimism and an all-around positive atmosphere that is resulting in a new and improved Arsenal on and off the pitch. But what exactly has Mikel Arteta done to steer one of the biggest clubs in England back to the top of the pile? Let’s assess the Spaniard’s impact below.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s exit sent a strong message
While it occurred during last season’s rather forgettable campaign for Arsenal, the way in which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang exited the club sent out a strong message to a team of players who had perhaps taken their eye off the ball, particularly when working under previous managers. There is no denying that Aubameyang lacked the professionalism needed to lead a relatively young Arsenal side to glory.
Arteta was hoping to find an inspirational leader who conducted themselves properly off the pitch and shone on it. Instead, it soon became evident that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s issues with previous managers were largely down to the Gabonese international’s lack of professionalism. While he appeared to be a bubbly presence on camera, there were clear signs emerging that he was never going to succeed as the captain of Arsenal under Mikel Arteta.
As such, he was stripped of the captaincy before being shipped off to Barcelona, a decision that certainly raised a few eyebrows at the time but one that has led to the strength in mentality that Arteta’s Arsenal is showcasing on a weekly basis this season. The handling of the former Borussia Dortmund striker sent a message to Arteta’s troops that standards needed to be raised.
Now, with a young and hungry captain in Martin Odegaard stepping up to the plate, Arsenal is a team where toxic attitudes aren’t welcome. In recent times before Arteta took over, that wasn’t necessarily the case. Arteta has essentially managed to get his authority across in the best way possible by making an example of a player who did himself no favours at all, with Aubmeyang turning up late for meetings and training badly, according to reports.
The growth Arsenal has shown resulted in the Gunners now being priced at 46/63 when it comes to winning the Premier League outright. However, Manchester City at 6/5 represents another excellent online betting opportunity, given their squad depth. Whatever happens this season, though, Arsenal has the mental capacity and the required leaders to consistently challenge once again. Standards have been raised.
Faith shown in young players
Alongside his evident passion on the sidelines and tactical nous, Arteta has shown clear faith in young talent. Appointing Martin Odegaard as club captain at just 24 highlights Arteta’s emphasis on planning for the future, with young players stepping up the plate this season in particular. The likes of Aaron Ramsdale, William Saliba, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah, and fans’ favourite Bukayo Saka all have their peak years ahead of them. Still, Arteta has not hesitated in throwing them in at the deep end this season. The issues and experiences of times gone by appear to have brought both players and manager closer together, with the Arsenal boss giving the young players the tools they need to shine in the Premier League.
Fluid Arsenal is back
Now, with squad harmony restored and young players playing without fear, alongside the additional quality that has been added to the squad, Arsenal is back playing the free-flowing, fluid football that fans of English football associate them with. Arsenal hasn’t won the title yet, but they’re back to their best, and Mikel Arteta deserves huge credit for that.