The STARTeta of transformation.
The last game versus Bournemouth was the real beginning of Arteta’s reign as manager, and it’s what all us Arsenal fans have been crying out for. I reiterate that it is the beginning, and we don’t need to be getting carried away as it’s a long way to get to where we want to be. However, in a short space of time we have come a long way from where we were.
Yesterday’s second goal involved 22 passes with all 10 outfield players involved in the move assisted and finished by homegrown youngsters. This outlines the how Arteta wants his team to play, patient build up, keeping possession and the right pass at the right time. We already look far more assured with the ball; the confidence is gradually returning, and the players are taking a lot more responsibility when in possession. This isn’t the only plan as we can sit back soak up pressure and counter with blistering speed as shown by the goal against Chelsea, or this diagonal ball from the back showing we can go long if we need to.
I have noticed the Players have now been given more instructions and it looks as though they each have two jobs, one with the ball and one without. This was highlighted for me with Martinelli constantly covering in the Left back position against Chelsea, and last night Xhaka dropping deep to near Centre Back position, we are putting more pressure on the ball and teams are finding it harder to break us down. A problem we have suffered with for the last few years, we have constantly been awful without the ball always inviting pressure.
We are seeing the start of Arteta’s man management with marked improvements from individuals throughout the squad. I could name more but I will name the three I believe are the most improved so far in his reign.
Mustafi has been a victim of terrible abuse at Arsenal in recent years for his constant mistakes at the back. It was a vicious circle that drained the player of all confidence. A player with zero confidence is always going to make mistakes. Arteta has put his faith in Mustafi with every fan crying for him to leave and celebrating every transfer rumour linking the German away from the club. Last night was the best performance I have seen from Mustafi, he was assured at the back passing the ball with ease, making good decisions reading the game well, solid in the air, and where did those 40-yard diagonals come from. It was such a shame he went off injured.
Xhaka in my eyes was gone and would never wear the shirt again after the fiasco with the fans. However, under Arteta he has resurrected his Arsenal career. The performance against Chelsea shows how much fight he has, as well as leadership qualities. To drop back into a position that’s not your own and excel the way he did shows good character. He has looked solid in the middle breaking up play and directing others around him. He is an important player for us once more.
The third player I am going to choose is Torreira. The little Uruguayan was frozen out by Emery, and when called upon was played out of position as a number 10. He was another lacking in confidence and frustrated with the previous management regime. I think given time Torreira will be our most important player, his engine, drive and tenacity will be key for Arsenals progression as a team. I think he has played well when called upon so far and will learn more under Arteta if he can stay injury free.
It seems if your good enough then your old enough for Arteta. He is not afraid to play the youngsters and the future is very bright for Arsenal. The youngsters are paying Arteta back for his faith shown with big performances from Martinelli, Saka (Out of position), Nelson, Willock and Nketiah last night scoring on his return. These players are performing and will only get better with more experience and Arteta’s man management.
Need for improvement
It’s not all rainbows and lolly pops just yet, and there are several things still to work on. Below I have listed a few things I think need addressing.
Pepe needs to improve, we can’t use the excuses of first season as he is being put to shame by Martinelli who is younger and from a much weaker league. The truth for me is Pepe isn’t working hard enough and is almost getting by on the shear size of the fee paid for him. There is no doubting he is a quality player and I am hoping for a reaction from him soon, Arteta was praised by Raheem Sterling for helping his game something similar is required with Pepe.
Lacazette is struggling now and his confidence is a low, as our main central focal point in attack he needs to contribute more. Hopefully a couple of goals can turn that around, as his work ethic can’t be scrutinised.
Killing Games off/Second Half syndrome – So far under Arteta we have been starting games well but always end up on the ropes later in the second half. For me this is down to a couple of things, the team aren’t yet fit enough to keep the constant pressure on the opposition.
We seem to sink backwards in the second half instead of going for the kill and scoring more.
A lack of leadership is still visible at times, we still need that director in the team getting Arteta’s message out on the pitch.
Personally, I am very happy with the progress shown. I’m not going to get carried away, but the signs are looking good for us. Patience is the key and trust what Arteta is trying to do.