Arteta; is he the right man to take Arsenal back to the top?

By Sam Wigram

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Unai Emery was relieved of his position after a dismal start to the 2019/20 season both domestically and in Europe which resulted in them dropping into the bottom half of the Premier League table. The Gunners’ struggles continued under interim boss Freddie Ljungberg before Arsenal turned to former player Mikel Arteta to become manager.

Although the corona virus crisis has brought the football season to a halt, there is a feeling of optimism coming out of the Arsenal camp once again after Arteta’s side climbed up the table to 9th, one point off rivals Tottenham, with a game in hand and looked set to push for a Europa league spot.

Arteta spent five years at Arsenal before retiring and moving to Man City where he spent three years as a coach under Pep Guardiola. – (Image Credit: Creative Commons image courtesy of Kieran Clarke on flickr)

The Spaniard has won eight out of his first fifteen games at the club, losing just two. It isn’t just the results that have impressed the Arsenal fans but the improvements he has made defensively.

Arsenal have conceded just 12 goals in those games under the new coach and this can be partly down to the newly found confidence in Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka.

The pair have struggled for form and had failed to win over many at the club however have played a vital role in Arsenal’s turn in form, being ever present in the sides starting line-up. A change in the dugout has delivered an upturn in fortune for those handed a clean slate.

The former Arsenal captain was stripped of his captaincy shortly after the fall out with fans. – (Image Credit: Creative Commons image courtesy of wikimedia)

Before Emery was sacked, the club was in disarray. Not only had they been on a winless run, but the fans began to turn against the players, former club captain Granit Xhaka faced the brunt of it.

The Switzerland international was substituted during the team’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace. As he walked off, he was met with a chorus of cheers from the fans in which he reacted angrily towards, cupping his ears, before taking his shirt off while heading down the tunnel.

At one point it seemed Xhaka was set to leave the club in January but Arteta convinced him to stay and he hasn’t looked back since. He has been arguably Arsenal’s most important player in Arteta’s system, with his positioning, allowing a young Bukayo Saka a lot more freedom in the oppositions third.

The 4-2-3-1 formation Arteta favours, offers great balance for Arsenal in attack and defence, finding the right balance is something that Unai Emery had massive problems with during his time at Arsenal which ultimately, lead to his downfall.

Arsenal are keeping hold of the ball better under Arteta and this has seen an improvement in results. – (Source: Sam Wigram via Canva)

As the infographic displays, Arsenal’s possession percentage under Arteta stays mostly above 50%. This consistency was never there when under Emery as shown above.

I reached out to Joe Furness, a young Arsenal supporter and season ticket holder who gave me his opinion on the changes made under Arteta.

“With the right backing, I do believe he is the right man to take this club back to the top.”

Joe has been able to see the sides transformation under Arteta and many fans will agree that with the backing of the board in the upcoming transfer windows, this Arsenal side would be well on its way to competing for the title, but only time will tell.

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