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Arsenal v Manchester United: How Mikel Arteta has gone from a joke to a hero in six months


There is a combined effort to boost Arsenal’s title challenge – and it could take them to the end of the season as champions.


On more than one occasion, Mikel Arteta’s reign as Arsenal manager has come to a natural conclusion, with fans turning against a manager who did not have enough credit in his bank for the jobs he was overseeing.

An FA Cup win at the end of his first few months gave managerial novice Arteta time to build some foundations at Arsenal, but an eighth-place finish in his first full season in charge put him under increasing pressure.

When Arteta’s side failed to take the opportunity to see them finish in the top four following a dip in form in the final month of last season, Knives was ousted for the likeable Spanish coach.

Yet those blades weren’t being sharpened by people who mattered in the corridors of power at the club.


Arsenal sporting director Edu and chief executive Vinay Venkatesham have been Arteta’s most ardent supporters – and they confirmed it by handing the coach a new contract ahead of last season’s misery.

Take yourself back to the start of this season and Arteta was one of the favorites to be the first Premier League manager to get the ax, with Roy Keane among those questioning whether given his lack of success a Why is he being hailed as a coaching visionary?

Such decisions now need to be reconsidered. Halfway through this season, Arteta has already won over any doubters who suggested he was out of his depth in the Arsenal job.


Now the pressure has gone to a very different level, with the Arsenal boss heading into today’s game against Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium, with many suggesting the Premier League title is on the wane.

Such a prospect was unthinkable as their reign was at their rock bottom with a heavy defeat at Newcastle in the final game of the previous season, which cost Tottenham a chance of a top-four finish.

It seemed for so long that Arsenal would capture that precious fourth place, but they had a terrible run towards the end of the season.


If Arsenal win the two games they now have at Tottenham, they will move 20 points clear of their north London rivals – and it shows how the script has changed over the last six months.

Amid a rising tide of excitement among Arsenal fans, Arteta has maintained a dignified calm through good times and bad in his first managerial posting.

He openly admits that his management style is based on Pep Guardiola’s playbook when he worked under his fellow Spaniard after starting his coaching journey at Manchester City.

Yet Arteta’s method is an evolution of Guardiola’s winning style, as his side is winning with players who weren’t finished products when this manager started working with them.

While City can buy the best players in the world and improve their already exceptional squad, Arteta will have to take players with promise and develop them into potential champions.


Mikel Arteta (left) and Erik ten Haag are disciples of Johan Cruyff. Photo: Michael Regan

Aaron Ramsdale, Martin Odegaard, Ben White, Thomas Partey and Bukayo Saka have all been turned from boys into men by Arteta and he will be hoping new signing Leandro Trossard follows a similar path.

Trossard joined Brighton on Friday and is now part of a club that is an example of what can happen when all the parts of an organization are pulling in the right direction.

“I’ve always had support from everyone, from Edu, from the ownership,” Arteta says. “I was always convinced that on some level what I was doing was going to work.

I was also very clear about where the team and the club are and what is realistic and what we can aim for.

“It was with hope that we should be there as Arsenal Football Club and now maybe more people believe in what we are doing. What we’ve done is changed the culture.

Arsenal had a lot of anger and blaming each other for a long time, but now we’re together.”

It would have been easy for Edu and Venkatesam to pull the trigger on Arteta when he was at his lowest, but their loyalty has been rewarded to a point that feels like there is no going back for Arsenal.

Whatever happens next, Arteta is now a manager he lacked a year ago and it has given him the chance to aim for the stars.


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