How many corners have there been to turn for the Spaniard? For a former player with a respected coaching CV who received a hero’s welcome to the Emirates, Mikel Arteta’s reign has been bumpy. Earlier in the season, it wouldn’t have been surprising if he was the first manager on the merry-go-round to be sacked.
Mikel Arteta has won Manager of the Month. Deserved? 👀 pic.twitter.com/17uMC4Efv2
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) October 8, 2021
However, it seems as if the tactics he learned working under Pep Guardiola at Man City are making an impression. Whether the effect will last the entirety of the season is anyone’s guess, but a few factors suggest they might.
The Balance of the Squad
At the beginning of the 2021/22 campaign, the confidence in Arteta and his players was at an all-time low. Three defeats in three games, including away to newly-promoted Brentford, will do that. The good news for the supporters, and neutral who enjoy the battle for the top six is that the form has turned around. To bet on the English Premier League now means to secure odds of 13/10 for Arsenal to make the top six. To put it into perspective, Spurs are evens, so the bookies are quietly confident in the Gunners.
Most of the renewed faith in Arsenal is the balance of the squad, which is currently miles better than it’s ever been. Part of that is the return of central midfielder Thomas Partey, who missed several games due to an injury. With the Ghanaian patrolling the middle of the park, the defence has more support, while the attackers benefit from his coolness and quality on the ball.
Arteta has masterminded another vital tweak that has transformed the club’s fortunes – moving Martin Ødegaard deeper. Not only does this enable Emile Smith-Rowe to play, but it gives the Englishman plenty of time on the ball to affect matches. The harmony shouldn’t disappear unless there is an injury.
Eye-Opening Results & Performances
The progression of the squad is being showcased on the pitch. For example, the Gunners were unbeaten in all competitions in September. In August, the players didn’t win a game, so the transformation is impressive.
Critics will instantly look at the level of teams they played against, and it’s easy to point to the likes of Burnley and Norwich not being up to a high enough standard. However, you can’t say that about Tottenham, Arsenal’s fiercest rival.
Arteta and Co destroyed Spurs in the North London derby, highlighting what the side is capable of when it’s on fire. Spurs aren’t in a healthy position now but they had a blistering start to the season, in which they won all three of their Premier League fixtures in August, including an impressive performance against Guardiola’s City.
A False Dawn
If this feels too familiar, it’s because we’ve been here with Arsenal and Arteta before. In many ways, the Spaniard has led a charmed life as a manager. Let’s face it – several others would have been sacked by now.
As a result, it’s wrong to predict that Arsenal Football Club has turned a corner under his guidance. Some areas appear positive, but nobody will know until May 2022 when the division is over. After all, the team must continue to progress.
If Arsenal doe challenge for the Champions League places and manages to win a trophy, it would be fair to say the club is moving in the right direction, and Arsenal fans will be hoping the recent adjustments are signs of things to come. Lots of football supporters are in that category, too, as Arsenal is too big a team to be wallowing in mid-table.