This week Arsenal are coming off a disappointing draw at home to Leicester City that sees them placed eighth in the Premier League on 50 points, five behind Manchester United in fifth.and
One would be forgiven for looking at the league table and thinking Arsenal are still in crisis, but as they say, never judge a book by its cover.
While a huge and proud club like Arsenal sitting eighth is something that seemed unfathomable just years ago under Arsene Wenger, fast-forward to 2020 and this is exactly what the Gunners are facing, likewise another season without Champions League football, something that was a diet staple at the Emirates for a record 19 consecutive years under Wenger.
Considering the financial strain this puts on a club of Arsenal’s size and stature and with fans demanding change on the pitch, you would be forgiven for thinking Arsenal is a sinking ship. In fact it is quite the opposite.
Since Unai Emery was shown the door and Mikel Arteta was put in charge the changes have been enormous. Despite managing for only 13 matches, his record is decent, to say the least, with six wins, two losses and five draws.
It shows Arsenal are slowly on the rise.
While Champions League football looks unlikely – though mathematically they are still in with a chance, even the most positive fan would say it is a bridge too far this season – all is not lost.
Arteta has impressed in every facet of his management since arriving. From his ability to bring the team together and play united football and play for each other to the handling of senior players who do not live up to his expectations and standards, in particular Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi, with both players unlikely to be at the Emirates next season following attitude and form problems, everything points to Arteta knowing what he is doing despite this being his first managerial position.
In the cases of Ozil and Guendouzi, Arteta has made it clear that if you do not follow his style and embrace what he is trying to instil, you simply will not play not matter who you are, regardless of status or wage. It’s a hardline stance that is much needed and refreshing to fans, and it shows he will not be pressured by players to cave into their own needs.
He has also taken a hands-on approach regarding transfers, personally having a hand is youngsters signing new deals. Stars Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, clearly the future of the club, signed on because of Arteta’s willingness to make personal assurances to both players.
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang was thought to be on the way out of the club until Arteta intervened and made a personal effort to help persuade the Gabon international into resigning. It is reported Aubameyang wants a three-year deal worth £250,000 (A$452,648) a week, which would make him the club’s second-highest earner, behind only Mesut Ozil, and at this stage negotiations look positive. Fans hope their captain will stick around.
Moreover, Mikel has turned the club’s on-field performances around too. It has not been without bumps along the way, but it is clear to see every Arsenal player has bought into what Arteta is trying to do, and it shows, particularly over the last five matches. Since a 2-1 away loss to Brighton, Arsenal have turned a corner, going unbeaten, winning four games on the bounce. In truth they would have beaten Leicester were it not for Eddie Nketiah’s red card.
Arsenal showed a glimpse of their old selves with an impressive first half in which they should have been three or four-nil up by half-time, but poor finishing eventually cost them and Jamie Vardy equalised. Nevertheless Arsenal are on the rise.
Everything is looking up for the Gunners under the tutelage of Mikel Arteta. Results are improving, players are united and playing for each other, they have a core group of young stars who are getting valuable first-team minutes and putting in great performances to go with it and fans are climbing back on board in support of what the Spaniard is trying to do.
This season may be gone for Arsenal, but if Arteta keeps improving Arsenal on and off the field as he has been, it will not be long before the Gunners are back where they need to be, finally challenging for the Premier League title.