With just over a week until the start of a new Premier League season, the prospect of a clean canvas for Mikel to make his mark upon is one that with have every Arsenal fan salivating. Will he step up and, try his best, and fall short – still hindered by what remains of the mess he was handed or will he paint us all his own Torment of St. Anthony like the Michelangelo we believe him to be.
This season will be completely his own. No remnants of Unai’s successes and failures or shades of Freddie’s unsupported stint reflected in the table. For better or worse, this year’s results will rest heavy on the shoulders of Arteta himself. After what many would classify as a successful job not only righting the ship but relaying a foundation for future growth and success, Arsenal’s rivals will be looking for any signs of cracks in the facade to help bring the early successes down.
So far, we have seen Arteta beginning to make his mark in many of the ways he can influence. While being granted a £200m+ warchest to overhaul the side top to bottom is not plausible, completing the staff he puts around himself certainly is. Adding Andreas Georgson, Miguel Molina, and Carlos Cuesta to support Steve Round and Albert Stuivenberg. While Sal Bibbo left leaving Inaki Cana Pavon in sole charge of two star goal keepers.
Andreas Georgson has been tasked with the major challenge of improving Arsenal’s set piece play. While improving it marginally may not be too difficult, given the atrocious statistics the team posted last year, significant improvements are needed to put forth respectable results.
Carlos Cuesta and Miguel Molina bring young minds and fresh ideas to the club, something I imagine excites Arteta quite a bit in contrast to the very experienced guiding presence of Steve Round. The shift to young coaches with modern ideas is a rising trend in sport across the world and multiple sports, and when done correctly has resounding results. Look no further than Stan Kroenke’s other asset the Los Angeles Rams in the NFL. They brought in Sean McVey who helped revitalize their team and nearly brought them a championship.
With a healthy balance of experience with what works combined with a modern twist, new ideas, and often a great connection with players, these young coaches are making huge splashes in their respective leagues. Arteta has already begun making that splash, as well as bringing some new ideas.
We saw some very inventive usage of Maitland-Niles abilities against Liverpool as he slid into the central midfield role and Tierney occupied the traditional wingback areas as he looked to overlap Aubameyang in the channel. In fact, the quick turnaround to get this Arsenal side play in a 3-4-3 formation during the restart was a bit of creative problem solving on Arteta’s behalf.
It’s creative mutations to formations and the complex fluid transitions from defense to attack and back that Arteta will need to continue to work through this year. Especially at the start where Arsenal will likely still have business to complete in the transfer window, but matches to play which will likely result in Arteta opting to continue that 3-4-3 formation.
With matches like Fulham and West Ham to begin with, Arteta will need that creativity to create a winning formula that can break down low blocks. From there, they have a difficult run of matches including Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester City, and Manchester United. Getting results in those matches while, presumably, continuing to integrate new signings will be not easy feat.
However, the canvas is clean, it’s Arteta’s to do with as he pleases and the opportunity to continue to integrate and impress his own creative spin on the game is there. Arsenal finished with only 56 points, 14 wins, and a pitiful 56 goals for record (+8 GD). With a side that boasts a front three like Arsenal’s, you hardly need to even say this is unacceptable. It’s known. But it is with high hopes for resounding success that we all put our faith in Arteta’s abilities.
What will start as a clean canvas, surely will turn into something very different by the end of the year. New coaches, new players, two likely systems and formations being used throughout the year as he transitions from 3-4-3 into a more desirable, attacking 4-back system. There is a TON to look forward to and by the end, I have little doubt it will have Arteta’s identity and signature written all over it.
I will leave it there. Enjoy your weekend. The final one before Football is back in full swing!