3 positive changes Arsenal have seen under Mikel Arteta
- Mikel Arteta is slowly getting his philosophy across after taking over at Arsenal and the results are showing.
It is safe to say that Arsenal have improved to an extent since Mikel Arteta took over. Although Arsenal do not have the scorelines to show for it, everything on the pitch has taken a positive hit since the 37-year-old took over the reins of the club.
The 'new manager bounce' occurs at nearly every other club when there is a new man at the helm, however, players constantly putting in a shift in terms of work rate, passion and dedication to always be in control of the ball, running up and down the pitch for nearly six games in a row shows the manager has built a sense of responsibility and ownership amongst the squad.
There has been major changes in this team. And without further ado, let's discuss a few of them in this article.
#3 Better offensive displays
Most notably, Arsenal are passing the ball with intent. With an average possession of 53.7% this season, the Gunners have failed to score goals like last season due to the fact that there has been no strong link between midfield and attack. The likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alex Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe, for all their attacking brilliance, have not been fed with enough passes to make something happen.
However, Mikel Arteta has taken note of this and Gunners are not only averaging more goals per game but also are creating significant chances in each game. In Arteta's very first game in charge of Arsenal, turned the tables as his side registered 17 shots against Bournemouth at Dean Court; more than Unai Emery's Arsenal did in his last five games.
The Gunners started playing and passing the ball with an intention to move forward, which is not the case under Unai Emery. There are more crosses into the box and more diagonals played across, with most of Arsenal's goals coming from the left flank. Meaningless possession is being nullified and Arsenal are more efficient in front of the box.
#2 Improvement in individual performances
Granit Xhaka after his antics vs Crystal Palace a couple of weeks ago was tipped to an away move from the Emirates this transfer window. It's 28th of January now, and Granit Xhaka is the player to have played the most minutes for Arsenal since Arteta took over. From being the want-away guy to one of the most vital players, Granit Xhaka's turnaround has been nothing short of incredible.
Mikel Arteta rates the 27-year-old very highly, and although he is not the official club captain anymore, Xhaka is still an immense character on and off the field. Another player to have significantly improved is Lucas Torreira, who went from being an out-of-favour attacking midfielder under Unai Emery to the best defensive player at Arsenal under Mikel Arteta.
David Luiz, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Alexandre Lacazette are a few other players who have rejuvenated themselves under the new gaffer, though the latter is yet to end his goal drought of ten games. Arteta has brought about drastic changes in the system, which has helped players to focus on imposing one style of play, instead of altering it every now and then.
#1 Improved defensive structure and fewer shots conceded
Arsenal fans have been crying out for a good defence for years now, and Mikel Arteta is the only one to have provided the Gooners with a bit of hope. It is strange to see the same set of defenders who were close to being terrible under Unai Emery have turned out to be consistent, efficient and confident in whatever the former Manchester City man has asked of them.
A good system to work in has clearly impacted the players, and Arsenal have, on average, conceded 3.5 shots on target under Arteta in the Premier League, as compared to 9 under Unai Emery.
The likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos were deemed not good enough by the previous manager, and although they are not world class players, Arteta has been getting the best out of them and they are proving to not be as bad as they were thought to be. The 32-year-old David Luiz, Arsenal's most experienced player, has openly credited Mikel Arteta for his brilliant tactical nous and the former Chelsea defender has unarguably been the most reliable defender for Arsenal in the past few games, barring the red-card incident.