Why Mikel Arteta is right for Arsenal

Gabriel Sutton by Gabriel Sutton / 16 May 2018, 20:32

Mikel Arteta is the heavy odds-on favourite to become the Next Arsenal Manager; with little experience to his name, his appointment would be met with some scepticism.

We reckon though that it could be a shrewd move: here’s why.

He fits the new system

Throughout his 22-year tenure, Arsene Wenger had a huge say in almost everything at Arsenal: from team selection and training to finances, scouting and transfer dealings.

That autocratic setup though was out of sync with modern football’s elite and the recent appointment of a highly-coveted head of recruitment in Sven Mislintat, who has already instigated the signing of defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, represents a step in the right direction.

While a bigger name like Max Allegri or Carlo Ancelotti would demand an off-field setup tailored to their requirements, Arteta will co-operate with pre-ordained coaching and scouting teams.

He knows the club

Arteta was the main creative lynchpin for Rangers, Everton and Arsenal during his playing career, whether as an attacking midfielder or in a deeper-lying capacity.

Because the Spaniard was not the most powerful player, he had to win his battles by being one step ahead of his opponents mentally and that helped him develop an acute understanding of the game.

Arteta’s belief in possession football matches the values on which Arsenal have been built contemporarily and the 36-year-old also has a good relationship with chief executive Ivan Gazidis.

He’s learnt from the master

For a team to reach 100 Premier League points out of a possible 114, a lot must go right. Pep Guardiola takes many the plaudits for Manchester City’s success and rightly so, but there is reason to think Arteta has had an important influence too.

The first team coach is credited with the development of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane, who were mostly known for their pace in 2016 but have vastly improved their productivity since Arteta came into the coaching setup.

Working with a serial winner in Guardiola every day will certainly have helped the young coach develop his skills, but the relationship may well have been mutually beneficial.

A blend of experience

Arteta spent five years at the beginning of his career in La Masia, then in Barca’s C and B teams; he therefore knows the training methods that produce technical players to the highest level.

Equally, his exposure to the Premier League as a player and a coach means he is also aware of how to apply those methods in a fast-paced league, in which players are fitter than ever before.

The likes of Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock, who have shown promise since coming through Arsenal’s academy, could benefit from Arteta’s guidance.

He’d replace Cech and Koscielny

A major factor behind City’s success is the threat that all 11 players on the pitch can pose in possession. Not only is Petr Cech waning in his ability as a shot stopper, his distribution is nowhere near the level of Ederson Moraes.

Laurent Koscielny, although a good centre-back a few years ago, has seen his mobility affected by injuries and his passing ability appears to have also declined.

With Arteta in charge, Arsenal will have defenders and goalkeepers capable of starting attacks in a positive way. Ball-playing centre-back Rob Holding, for example, could re-discover his impressive 2016-17 form.

He’d help Xhaka

Arteta would build a system that revolves around Granit Xhaka, who occupies the Spaniard's old role in North London. Because Arsenal have not pressed from the front so much away from home, Xhaka has come under more pressure, leading some to question whether his physical and battling qualities have declined under Wenger.

However, if the team can close down better in forward areas, we will see more space for the Swiss midfielder, who has an excellent passing range, to control the tempo.

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