Arteta challenges players to close gap on rivals

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Mikel Arteta says Arsenal must continue to take points from the Premier League’s top teams after ending a 2,114 day wait for an away victory in the Premier League at a ‘Big Six’ rival.

Having beaten Manchester City and Chelsea in the FA Cup at Wembley and with two penalty shootout wins over Liverpool, the Gunners have, via a couple of setbacks, slowly grown in confidence against their biggest rivals on the road.

Yesterday’s hard-fought 1-0 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford further enhances hope that a perennial away-day problem is finally being rectified.

“We have to beat the top teams if we want to be fighting with them,” Arteta told Arsenal.com.

“It’s something we haven’t been able to do in the last few years, especially away from home. We have to improve. There is that gap and we have to make it as small as possible, as quick as possible. This is the challenge that we are facing.”

After slipping up at home last weekend, Arteta was pleased with the way his players learned their lesson to grind out a win.

“It came back through my mind with what happened against Leicester, a game that we really dominated where we were the better team in the first half.

“In the second half then, we couldn’t find a way to win the game. Today we’ve done it and we looked very mature.

“The way we managed the last few minutes is getting better and better. We have people coming off the bench really helping, and individually the players who were required at that stage had a great game.”

Mohamed Elneny, a candidate for man-of-the-match following an energetic display alongside Thomas Partey, also revelled in the victory. He says his teammates were confident of getting on the scoresheet thanks to their on-pitch shape.

“It feels really amazing, I feel really happy,” Elneny told Arsenal.com.

“It is special to win against Manchester United here. We know it is a long time since we won here. We gave 100 per cent and everyone worked really hard for it.

“We know how special it is for us, that’s why we gave everything to win this game.

“No [we weren’t concerned about not scoring in the first half] because we spoke and said we have to keep on our game, even if we miss.

“We knew we were going to score because our shape was really good today and everyone just gave 100 per cent. We created more chances to score. But we didn’t worry, we knew we were going to win this game.”

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Bobbo

If we win the proverbial “six point” games against our rivals more often that will give us some wiggle room as we probably drop points against some of the teams which use the low block that we struggle against.

atom

The team looked a lot better yesterday – Partey just adds so much to the midfield. That said we still are having so many issues scoring from open play & really need to figure out a way to get that fixed.

OdalGooner

We had to fix a horrible defence. We’ve done that to a large extent now. Then we can build offensively. We were screaming for solidity at the back – we got that. Now is not the time to forget that Arteta has done exactly what we wanted. Obviously that comes at a price. We’re not the Invincibles just yet. It’s obvious we’re not at the right formula offensively yet – we haven’t been for ages. But at least we’re not permanently leaking goals anymore. It’s not just a start. It’s an encouraging start. But this is still a brand new… Read more »

Jordan Tan

Arsenal accending 😊

atom

We’re relying on crazy conversion ratio (goals per shots) to win both during the cup run and this year. I agree he’s done a great job in terms of making us more solid defensively & adding structure- but for this season to be successful (top 4), then Arteta is going to have to quickly figure out a way to score more goals. There are arguably relatively small changes he could make (go with a more attacking front 3 of Pepe/Auba/Saka), a midfield 3 instead of 2 etc. Whatever he does however he needs to quickly figure out a way to… Read more »

loose_cannon

I think in this game we saw a preview of how we can address some of our creative issues with minimal disruption. Something that was key yesterday but hasn’t been discussed much was Lacazette and Willian playing with freedom and occupying the space between midfield and defence. Aubameyang also drifted central much more often than against Leicester and Man City and the result was a formation that looked more like a 4-2-3-1 in possession, with Laca in the pocket. Perhaps against more defensively minded teams, Ceballos and Pepe could come in for Lacazette and Elneny, and give us a bit… Read more »

Matthinc

I think the point is: it won’t happen quickly. It’s about taking steps in the right direction. He’s working with an unbalanced squad and needs time to build from the defensively solid but one-dimensional going forward team, to a defensively solid but electric going forward team we’re going to see in a 6 months or so!

Tungor_Adams

I agree we missed really good chances, same vs Leicester. but they fell to the right players most of the times, players that normally score. Should just be a matter of time

atom

Arteta likely will get it sorted out as he appears to have the makings of an excellent manager. I’m just pointing out it’s hard to win games when you average 3 shots on target per game.

santi's thigh grab

Your not wrong but I prefer to take the longer view. This squad didn’t become unbalanced and anemic overnight, it started under Arsene, continued under Raul, Emery & co and has only now, with Gabi and Partey, begun to turn around and look like a PL football team. Arteta will need a few windows to move the deadwood out and new players in. I prefer not to say 4th is our goal this year because I’m in it for the long haul. I just want to see the team competitive, play for the badge and do better than last year.… Read more »

Qwaliteee

It’s going to require us signing a top class AM next summer.

Fatgooner

As I said yesterday, it was nice to beat Man United: I loathe them and their glory-hunting plastic fans. But too many of our fans are going over the top about the win. United are rubbish right now and were taken apart by Spuds only a couple of weeks ago. Beating them should be no big deal. I actually think that if we’d taken the handbrake off we could have beaten them more comfortably. I want to see us play more open, expansive football and really put teams to the sword. Right now we either win narrowly or lose narrowly.… Read more »

Nigerian-Gunner

I would rather have a 1Nil victory than go gung-ho and loose 5 : 4
Arteta came in and inherited a mess of a team, it will take some time for us to start playing like the Man city team. So for now I would take scruffy victories away at a rival until we can get in a creative midfielder.
Enjoy the victory man.

SB Still

You and I have been spoilt by the glory days when the football we played was art and entertaining as evolved by a transformative manager. We now have a young manager in his 1st (managerial) job. He is going to need time to sort it out. E.g. he wanted Aouar as well as Partey for midfield in the transfer window gone past. However, we could afford only one of them and he has gone for the option to make us that much more difficult to beat. Having learnt under Wenger and Pep, the attacking football, should evolve when we have… Read more »

mc1892

Don’t think anyone would argue but equally I think there’s far more of an emphasis on the coaching team to establish defensive stability than offensive flair. Maybe I’m naive, but I think the offensive players will naturally play better and with more freedom with a confidence in their defenders/ ability in the team to keep clean sheets. The same cannot be said of a defence playing better knowing their strikers are in form (see: last season). So though it’s rather tedious to watch at times, I think the green shoots at the moment are promising, and exactly where I’d have… Read more »

goonero

I don’t know much about the psychology of it, I just think good players will play well when they are happy and poorly when they aren’t. It’s like in any office setting, you’ll do better work when you like the people you’re working with. I think playing with Partey makes people happier than playing with Xhaka. If I can sit behind my Tele and see Parteys a quality player then surely the guys he trains with can see that too. By the same token if I can see Xhaka is weak under pressure, one dimensional in his passing and slow,… Read more »

goonero

Agree with you here. Take away their CL performances (which again where more impressive for results than the performances themselves) and this is a United side any team with CL aspirations (and frankly even a lot lower than that) will be looking to beat home or away. Even within the game Arsenal were not “far and away” convincing winners. They were clearly the better and more organized side. But once again they struggled to translate tactical superiority into chances and chances into goals. United were the width of the post away from equalising, a Mike Dean whistle away from a… Read more »

BillyKrystal

I didn’t realize until Blogs said on the pod today that we’ve conceded fewest goals in league. That is quite the achievement and it’s exactly what Arteta’s plan has been – sort out our defensive frailties and build from there. Yesterday we were the better creative team at a place we haven’t won for 14 yrs in the league. It’s a process, now with our spine much stronger we have to trust him to build on it.

TOGooner

Fatgooner has a point, but I think we should be extremely happy where we are right now in “the process”. The eventual goal is not to become an Athletico Madrid but something closer to a Manchester City. That may not be entirely palatable to everyone either due to the structured nature of their attack, but I see Arteta as a pragmatist, and I genuinely believe he wants to embody that offensive flair and the individual unpredictable creativity that Wenger embodied in his offenses, once the structure is in place (and we have the players for it, which we don’t have… Read more »

loose_cannon

Tbf United went down to 10 men very early against Spurs and lost all discipline from there. They were better defensively against us but I still think we created enough chances to be a couple of goals up before the break. Saying that I do agree that creating chances should be Arteta’s focus now that the defence looks fairly solid. The way we play means we can and should create chances against the bigger sides, but it’s the low block teams where we still struggle. That’s why I was a little surprised to see some people dismiss Ceballos completely after… Read more »

Biggles

I think a few Gooners have been taking the win over Utd (and we needed an away win of any sort really against a big team) and seem to think that it’s almost “job done”. Obviously, it isn’t. For example, of the teams above us only Wolves have scored fewer goals (our goal on Sunday didn’t come from open play) and we’ve still conceded in the majority of our PL games so far. This could all change as a result of the Utd win – increased confidence etc. often works wonders – but there’s no guarantee it will. The next… Read more »

N10

This!

iGooner

Trust the process.

SB Still

Can we play Man U this week as well 😉

ChickPEA

I second that. A real shame we’ve already played all the big teams away this season… bar Leicester and Everton, of course.

Flash

I think it’s a little bit misleading to talk too much about the results against top teams. While it’s important in regard to out self-confidence but there are 3 times more games against the teams that are out of the top 6. Those points worth the same…

lorenzo

The points are worth the same, but when you get a result against a side that you are (realistically) competing against for the top 4 spots, you’re also denying them points, which is equally as important. So there is certainly an added bonus in terms of the table.

Flash

That’s true, but only to some extent. Let’s say a win against a top team is 2 times as valuable as a win against a weeker team. Even then there is a competeitive advantage in concentrating on the matches against these weeker teams because there are not only 2… but 3 times more games against them in a season. Besides: If there are 5-6 teams that are outstanding compared to the others they will probably lose points against each other more often than against the bottom half teams. An interesting example: If we would have lost every one of our… Read more »

Biggles

That’s true, but the problem is that we haven’t always done as well as expected against the teams outside of the “top” teams, “big six”, “major clubs” either. The points are the same, but we haven’t picked up as many against the rest to compensate.

C.B.

Our north London ‘rivals’ are looking ‘good’, in 2nd in the PL at the moment, especially up front.

Let’s try to make sure they don’t reverse this trend https://twitter.com/clivebullen/status/1308035764853374978?s=19

Mentalista

Looks like they’ll start to return some trophies soon.

Biggles

Arteta is quite right. It was a great (groundbreaking, almost) win yesterday but look at where we still are in the table (lower than we finished last season), of the teams above us only Wolves have scored fewer goal than us, and we’ve still conceded in the majority of PL games so far. We need to celebrate the result at Old Trafford of course, but it’s only the first step. We have to build on that, game in and out, from now on. If, for instance, we were to lose our next game, much of the momentum gained at Old… Read more »

lorenzo

Wait a few more games before worrying about the table. There’s 3 points between 3rd and 13th, and we’ve had probably the toughest schedule so far.

lucas

I get what you are saying but our current losses are VS Liverpool (A), ManC (A) and Leister (H) (which we should be winning). I find those loses “acceptable” and Arteta is doing a good Job.

Luton Gooner

“Candidate for MoTM”

Is it just me, or do televised games now not state who the MoTM is?

Have I just missed these announcements or is there a move to ensure everyone feels valued or some fluffy bollocks?

Naked Cygan

Next challenge will be unlocking the defence of Aston Villa. They will sit back and hit us on the break. We need to improve our creativity and attack from all angles, not just left. We won our penalty from the right run of Hector, and Willian hit the bar from the right.

Henrik

Anyone else getting excited by the idea of playing Martinelli instead of Lacazette/Nketiah? He is so dangerous in front of goal and has the perfect aggression to initiate press etc. I think that his return will enhance our goal production significantly!

Warthog

Unfortunately he is coming back from a serious knee injury. I think it unwise to count on him or Chambers much for this season.

See Holding and Hector as examples of how long it takes to fully recover.

Henrik

True, and we should definitely not rush him but he is an exciting player that one!

Public Elneny

One slight point is that Martinelli’s knee injury is a cartilage tear, not ligament damage like Holding, Bellerin and Chambers

As long as his meniscus tear can be surgically repaired (and I think the long recovery time suggests it has been) and not just trimmed/cleaned up, the outlook for returning back to previous levels of performance is pretty good – much better than ACL damage. Although obviously after spending 9 months not being able to train properly, it will still take a while to get back up to speed

Tungor_Adams

I wish I had Top lvl surgery option when trashing my acl twice, but my rehab was really good came back stronger than ever before, if surgery went well he will be a monster physically when back

DrWenger

He is exciting. We should also relish and appreciate who we have now and their work.

N10

You can downvote FG and other skeptics all you want, but wouldn’t we all love to see more of a killer instinct? I think Arteta is taking us in the right direction. Regarding big Weng, the only problem with his Gallic emphasis on “enjoying the game” is that over time, this became fun for its own sake, and not “enjoying the game by dominating the other team”. I think Arteta is taking us toward that. And the players are responding, more or less. E.g., Auba, as happy go lucky as he is, he’s a fierce competitor. It’s a big cultural… Read more »

loose_cannon

Was a deserved win but the next step is increasing our attacking potency. One of the reasons we looked more fluid against United was that Saka, Willian and Lacazette dropped in between the lines and were in positions to receive forward passes from Elneny and Partey. We totally lacked that against Leicester and it cost us, the key is to be more consistent with it. Also, I was a little taken aback by the negativity towards Willian on the Arsecast Extra. I actually would have preferred Pepe on the day but I thought he was instrumental to our attack in… Read more »

Tungor_Adams

On Elneny, he is not finally meeting expectations, he is overshadowing them. Many hoped he would be a valuable squad player, but No one expected what we’ve seen this year, let alone last night. He deserves a lot of credit for his raise in form and superb performances, and so does arteta. We would not see Elneny this good under Emery, and didn’t under Wenger. Arteta’s tactical master class is playin 2nd fiddle to his ability to inspire, instill total commitment and belief. Happy days!

Tungor_Adams

Arteta wants to establish the ability to totally control the games, we saw glimpses against City. yesterday was a huge step forward with 95 minutes minutes of disciplined no gifts display against an in form United. As the confidence in the team grows, so will our ability to finish of games, let’s be patient

Santori

Still a lot of work to be done. Spurs are second and a worrying dark horse no one is talking about. Fortunately still early days but already we are off pace in 8th this season. We are not as fluent as we need to be but there are some positive signs. Particularly I thought Partey looks like he is getting settled expressing himself more and more. BOTH Elneny and him did a decent job in a midfield heavy United. Partey shackled Pogba and Elneny did the job on Fernandes which must have been Arteta’s play book for the day. Also… Read more »

Tungor_Adams

Our lack of goals currently shouldnt be over analyzed. We are int a process, it is clear that in recent games focus has been establishing the ability to control games. I have no doubt that when that fundament is there, the team will have the confidence to control and create. Also the ability to continue to dominate after scoring will be a process, took Kloop almost 2 years to instill non stop rockn roll football, let’s not draw conclusions yet on artetas targeted style of football

Qwaliteee

It seems as if it’s a case of ‘Back To The Future.’ We have (with the exception of Mustafi) tightened up a very loose defence and are now hinting at putting together a George Graham kind of side. And no one is happier about this than me. No more pretty Wenger Ball, but if it ultimately helps us to become successful, then I shall be the last one complaining. That said, there’s still a lot of football to be played and, at the time of writing, I’m still not entirely convinced that we have enough in the tank in terms… Read more »