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His arrival will bring hope that Arsenal can rediscover their DNA and that his connection with the players (many of whom were his former teammates) is so strong that they will want to go the extra mile for the cause.
Arteta, 37, has a huge job on his hands in his first head coaching position but the Spaniard oozed class on and off the pitch during his playing days and that has translated to his coaching career under Guardiola, and was clear in his opening press conference as Arsenal’s new boss.
Below is a look at the top five priorities for Arteta as he kicks off his managerial career at his beloved Arsenal.
1. Keep their attacking stars happy
There are reports that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette want out, while Nicolas Pepe has hardly settled in well at Arsenal. The Gunners have very few ‘world class’ talents in their squad right now and they need to keep this attacking trio at the Emirates Stadium and, more importantly, happy, if they’re going to rise again under Arteta.
So what should we expect from Mikel Arteta as a head coach? 🤔
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) December 20, 2019
2. Get the best out of Mesut Ozil
This is a simple one. Mesut Ozil is a very good soccer player. He needs to get back to his best. He needs someone who believes in him. Arteta is that somebody, and Ozil’s reaction to his appointment suggests he is delighted.
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) December 20, 2019
The German playmaker has had a rough few years. Vilified in Germany after their early exit from the 2018 World Cup, left out by Unai Emery on many occasions and off the pitch his issues have been well-documented. But he is still a supreme talent and capable of unlocking any defense in the world. We’ve seen it time and time again.
“He is a massive player for this football club. I want to understand how the players are feeling and what they need. You have to understand them,” Arteta said. “I worked with him and I know when he ticks what he can bring to the team. It is my job to get the best out of him.”
3. Add accountability defensively
It is all well and good having Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette purring in attack but Arsenal need balance. Defensively (Bernd Leno aside) they’ve been shambolic for some time and restoring some accountability and grit at the back is going to be key. Arteta was a flamboyant player on the ball but his work rate off it and ability to dig deep and win the ball back was often overlooked. He drove Everton on to their most successful period in decades and injuries aside he was a key player for Arsenal as they challenged for trophies year in, year out in his five seasons at the club. Defensively they need to either bring in new players or somehow totally change the mindset of the ones they currently have. They have to defend first and worry about the rest later. The responsibility Arteta wants at Arsenal must be shown in defense.
4. Get the fans back on side, restore DNA
A way to do this is play attractive, possession-based football. Arteta knows how to do that, both as a player and a coach. His arrival marks a return to Arsenal’s DNA and the disciple of Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola can deliver that fluid brand of play we all associate with the Gunners. Unai Emery tried to usher in a high-pressing, more dynamic style and it didn’t work with a squad largely assembled by Wenger. Arteta could actually have plenty of success right off the bat if he asks his players to keep the ball and entertain the fans with their play. He needs the fans on their side, and fast, to save this season and build for 2020-21 and beyond.
5. Win a trophy
The FA Cup, Europa League, whatever it is, win it as quickly as possible. Fans want success and of course they want to win the Premier League and Champions League, but they know that is a long way away from happening. In the meantime it doesn’t hurt to win silverware and as Arteta said in his first words as Arsenal’s manager, he needs to get them winning trophies ASAP.
“The ambition of this club is clear – you have to be in Europe and fight for trophies. The rest is not good enough,” Arteta said.
It doesn’t matter what trophy it is, Arsenal need some success after two years without silverware. Wenger was mocked for winning the FA Cup in his final few years in charge, but Arsenal’s fans would love that right now. Winning trophies builds positive vibes. Simple.