By Charlie Merrett
Has the appointment of former Gunner Mikel Arteta ignited a new lease of life to a struggling Arsenal side?
Arsenal fans have watched from the side-lines as their club has writhed under the spotlight of what has been one of their most disappointing seasons to date. After 22 years with the revolutionary Arsene Wenger, it seemed the appointment of Unai Emery was a statement of intent. But it was to be a stale affair with Arsenal critiqued on the same failings once again. Now, with a familiar face at the helm, there remains a big question mark over the club’s future.
Recent performances have given mixed results but Premier League and Arsenal fans at Brunel seem to believe the appointment of Arteta will see the club rise from its knees.
Raj, 22, reflected on Unai Emery’s tenure saying: “The guy is a top manager. I don’t want to speak ill of a high achieving manager as he’s had a good career.” He believes Emery’s tactics didn’t merge with Arsenal’s identity adding that “it was an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object and something had to give. Is he to blame? Not totally but sure there were differences the club couldn’t look past.”
Arsenal were weary and had shown little signs of improvement under the regime of Unai Emery. But now it appears ever since his departure, an undeniable spark has returned to the team. Imbued with a sense of belief from the team’s confidence on the pitch to the fans gradually getting back on board, it seems the work Arteta has put in behind the scenes is slowly coming to fruition.
Steven, 20, believes that the signs are positive. He said: “We lost our shape and our confidence but the old style of hunting down the ball in packs and our exciting fast, free-flowing football is coming back. Now we need to pick up some momentum and start challenging again.”
The Gunners seem to be regaining a sense of togetherness and self-belief. Arteta toiled quietly in the shadow of world class coach Pep Guardiola. He has learned his trade in one of the most successful clubs in recent Premier League years, and now this newfound knowledge is being brought to a desperate Arsenal.
Somewhat of a notable revival, albeit not as consistent as many would like, is the form of the midfielder Mesut Ozil. His moments of brilliance have been long overdue and are pivotal in helping Arsenal to unlock defences with a natural gift for passing. It’s a wonder to think that Ozil once played on the same pitch as his now Manager Arteta.
George, 20, argues that Arteta is the man to bring Ozil back to the fore, saying that “Ozil was a statement of intent by Arsenal. A January signing for £42 million was a big piece of business and his first season for us he was a top player in the Premier League. [Since then] he’s faded and he’s guilty of it, but Arteta played on the field with the guy so if anyone knows how to get the best out of him it’s going to be him.”
Arteta however can’t sit back on this triumph. He must now look to the rest of his team; a creaking and often unreliable defence has left the Gunners exposed, resulting in only five Premier League clean sheets this season, scoring 32 and conceding 34.
It is time now for Arsenal to begin the painstaking rebuild to once again vie for the upper echelons of the Premier League where many would believe they belong.