Mikel Arteta says he doesn’t know how long it will take for Arsenal to close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool and admitted he currently has no idea what financial support he’ll be given to reinforce his squad when the transfer window opens.
Early in the lockdown the Spaniard revealed the club were planning for several eventualities, assumed to be based on whether the club made the Champions League, Europa League or missed out on European football altogether.
With the latter still a real possibility and the transfer window in England set to open before the FA Cup final, there is a lot of uncertainty about how the off-season might play out.
While the Gunners notched a plucky 2-1 win against champions Liverpool last night, the fact 40 points separates the two teams in the tables underlines what a huge job Arteta has on his hands. In the right circumstances, he thinks that could be bridged quite quickly, but he seems to be settling in for a much longer journey.
“Well, I’ve seen it and I’ve experienced it to do it [close the gap] in one year, and I’ve also seen other clubs never do it, or some do it in four or five years,” the Spaniard explained.
“It depends on the context, it depends on your resources, and it depends on how much you have to change. But we are in a process and we don’t know at the moment.
“There is a lot of uncertainty in many areas, but what we can control now is who do we want to be as a team, the culture that we are building to do that, the spirit that we need to be successful, and then improve our players and my main focus is on that.
“I want to make our players better and I want to make them more comfortable and create an identity for the football club because then it will be easier to say we need this, this and this.”
Last night’s game at the Emirates once again saw Arteta lean on the club’s Academy graduates. Bukayo Saka started at wing-back, Reiss Nelson netted the winner – his first Premier League goal – and Joe Willock might have added a third in the dying moments. It’s a policy he looks set to continue and one that’s cause for optimism.
“I cannot tell them that I believe in them and then never play them,” he explained.
“We try to make sure that everyone fits as part of the team because that’s how you keep the spirit, and you have to put them in big games as well.
“They showed today that everybody is ready. It’s the way they train every day, it’s the way they have been behaving every day, and everybody deserves a chance. Today they showed that they could do it.”