Thursday, February 29, 2024

Arteta on closing the gap, unity and banishing self-pity

Mikel Arteta says the gap between Arsenal and the clubs at the top of the Premier League is a clear indication that his side must keep improving if they are to become a force to be reckoned with.

Nine wins in 11 games is a clear indication the Gunners are heading in the right direction but the manager is utterly unwilling to let a few good headlines distract from the job at hand, especially with everything still to lose.

Ahead of Wednesday’s huge clash with Liverpool, he said: “I think we are much closer than we were, and probably the closest that we have been in terms of what we are looking for. But I focus on that gap. And that gap is still big.”

He’s not wrong. While Arsenal might be sitting fourth in the Premier League with Champions League football within their grasp there’s also a considerable gap to bridge if we’re to be considered title challengers in years to come. Table-toppers Manchester City are 19 points ahead.

So where does he see the room for improvement?

“We have to make things quicker, sharper,” said the boss. “We can be more adaptable, we can be much more unpredictable, we can have much more flexibility and we can be much more consistent throughout games to maintain that level.”

The Spaniard also returned to a common theme of his time in charge – the importance of the collective.

Reflecting on how Arsenal have turned things around since August’s shaky start to the campaign, he said: “Everybody is aligned with the same purpose.

“With the same determination and with the same level of passion to achieve what we want to do. Accepting we are not there, but we want to get to the top very quickly and in order to do that we have to do it together.

“We don’t have any single player or any single member of staff in the organisation that can do it individually, all by themselves so it has to be a collective drive to get that bit extra and one of those main factors, for me, has been the Emirates and our supporters. How much they are giving to the team, it’s difficult to put a number on it but I’m telling you it’s been one of the biggest parts.”

Hardened by an eventful start to his coaching career and learning on the job that the only thing he should expect is the unexpected, Arteta is keen that self-pity has no place in his dressing room.

It’s clear he wants his players to take responsibility for their actions and, with his help, to put things right when things go wrong.

“I hate that feeling, of feeling sorry for ourselves. Of saying ‘oh, this is happening to us again’.

“A lot of things happen, and when they happen we have to find the reason why. If we don’t want it happening again we have to do something about it because if we keep doing the same thing then I expect the same thing – or worse – to happen, because we already have a history.

“So we have less margin to suffer, because we have already been there. We have to change that dynamic completely and look at what we can become and how we are going to do it. If we put all the effort and energy there, the rest will take care of itself.”

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Parisian Gooner

It seems to me we have one of the most exciting team at the moment and in Arteta maybe the future best manager. May long it continues


Been very impressed by Arteta. Knew he had the potential to be a good manager, but starting to see signs that he may one day even become a great. Very early days of course but he seems to be imposing a level of control and philosophy on the club that is starting to remind me of the Wenger days. In fact, I wonder if Arteta has taken the best of what he has learned from Pep and Arsene and applied his own personal touch to things and we are now at the beginning of what could be a very beautiful… Read more »


Mikel will become a better manager than Wenger ever was, Wenger inherited the core of a top team and aded to it, Mikel took over a total clusterfuck and is on his way to sorting it out. Mikel faces up to things in a way that Wenger never could, he has unfinished business here at Arsenal and won’t be going anywhere soon.


So #wengerout then, eh?



Which part of the invincibles did Wenger inherit?




Bergkamp, Keown and Parlour.

But that’s about it.

He certainly didn’t ‘get lucky’ as Vonnie has suggested.


I agree with you. We can appreciate all that Wenger was, whilst being honest with ourselves that Arteta possesses a pragmatism that Wenger seemingly never had.

Wenger was a sentimental coach, and that had its obvious benefits, but in the current football climate, that would not have worked. Arteta wouldn’t put up with players offering 50% for as long as Wenger did. Just look at Ozil and his half-hearted attempts to chase and tackle for the ball? Compare that to Odegaard. Similar roles, but ready to dig in because he knows he’ll sit if he fails to perform the non-negotiables.


Man… I’m awaiting approval again? 😢🤦🏽‍♂️




I agree with you. Arteta has the pragmatism that Wenger seemingly lacked towards the end, I dunno. I’m a young fan.

Arteta for sure wouldn’t have put up with Ozil giving 50% and not performing the non-negotiables as Wenger did. Wenger was a sentimental coach, and maybe there are upsides to that, but in this day and age, there has to be some kind of ruthlessness to managers and Arteta seems to have that. It has to be the manager’s show. Wenger let his players be themselves too much. Didn’t help.

Bleeding gums murphy

Yep the invincible’s were a joke. Showed no commitment and just did what they wanted and Wenger allowed it. Shame on him



A fly on the wall

Exactly just that! The difference between the Invincibles and Arsene’s later years teams was that they had the maturity and the required level of self governance to make that style of coaching work for them. Arsene was a highly sentimental coach and it worked superbly at times, while falling woefully short at the very top of the table. I’m not sure we should be serenading Arteta till he’s achieved more, but I really like what I’m seeing from him (even at the start of the season). He seems to have adopted some of Moyes’ pragmatism, sprinkled with the free-flowing rotational… Read more »


Come on dude, don’t conflate two disparate things to make your point. The Invincibles, and other Wenger teams were incredible, and had the steeliness and commitment to be Champions. Wenger takes the credit for signing those players and creating an environment for them to prosper. He also takes some of the blame when the players he signs don’t have the character and personality to thrive in that environment, and for not changing that environment when it stopped working. The story on the Arsenal Vision podcast about an Arsenal player signing for another club and being told not to bring that… Read more »




Under Wenger, Ozil helped return this club to winning trophies – three FA Cups in four years.

Before you start slagging off former players and managers, at least do your homework first. 😉

Bleeding gums murphy

I was at Wembley for the Chelsea final which no one gave us a chance and Ozil was sublime, was also there for villa final and he ran the show. One of most gifted payers I have had the privilege to watch live.


Some people are still trying to pedal their hatred of Ozil to the rest of us.


And when other individuals start proclaiming what is still essentially a work in progress to be superior to some of the greatest achievements and moments this football club has enjoyed in it’s entire history, then it’s maybe perhaps time to give the men in white coats a call….

Dennis Elbow

Mikel reminds more of G.Graham with his discipline on and off the pitch. I loved G.Gs Arsenal, especially his first squad that done the scouse scallies 0-2 at Anfield for the title.


So weird comment. We all know what wenger did, and how consistently did, and we all know that it’s just a week or so we are back to top 4.
I think Arteta has been doing a good job recently, but that comparison sucks. At least wait to the end of the season to make such a bold statement.


I became arsenal fan in 2012 during supposedly decline years of le prof and I still consider him one of the best thing to happen for arsenal. What kind of sad personality you would be if you saw glory years and still have such views about wenger. Dumbphaq.

Dennis Elbow

Arsene needs to thankG.Graham for the defensive unit that won him his first lot of trophies.


Funnily enough, that defensive unit have always sought, at every possible opportunity, to publicly thank Wenger for extending their careers – and their winners medals collection.


I don’t think you’re being entirely fair to Arsene there. Yes, he inherited Ian Wright, Paul Merson, Dennis Bergkamp, David Platt, Ray Parlour, Dave Seaman and George Graham’s famous back four, but he also inherited a team – and a world famous club – that had lost all sense of direction under Bruce Rioch. We weren’t even just a decent cup side, that we had forsaken league title challenging status to become during the closing stages of Graham’s time at the club. There was still a massive drinking and gambling culture, Merse and Tony Adams had both gone into rehab… Read more »

Bleeding gums murphy

I’m presuming you are very young and don’t know much of factual arsenal history. To help you a wee bit, Lehman, Lauren, Cole, toure, Campbell, vieira, Gilberto, Freddie, Pires, Henry, Wilford, Reyes, edu, we’re all part of the invincible’s. If I’m right the only regular starter was Bergkamp. Check it out, it may help going forward with comparisons.


I’m not at all young and I know all the Arsenal history. The Invincibles led themselves, they were a strong minded bunch, what I’m saying is that Mikel is a stronger personality than Wenger ever was. To a great extent Wenger hit lucky, and then spent at least the last seven years living off his reputation. Yes I was Wenger out, he wasted too many good players, but I never, ever booed the team or agreed with the way the idiots at aftv behaved. I can remember when Per and Mikel were calling player meetings to hold things together while… Read more »


“Wenger hit lucky”…?!!

That is ridiculous. 😂


Which players exactly did Wenger “waste”? I think he squeezed more out of incredibly average players than most managers, including Mikel, could. Post the new stadium, the Board didn’t spend the kind of money they have done for Arteta, and somehow — with players like Alex Song, Gibbs, Walcott, Coquelin — managed to consistently make top 4. Sure, the players became mentally soft in his later years, and his sentimentality ended up catching up with him. But he was a genius in his time. Arteta has a LONG way before he can be considered equal to Arsene.

Bleeding gums murphy

To say they led themselves is I believe totally false and disrespectful to Arsene, world class players thanked him for guiding them in their careers, making them better players.

Martin R

You forget the great signings he made and how he built another team which played arguably the best and most exciting football of any Arsenal team. If Arteta get close to our greatest ever manager than we can all be very happy


This part of the comments is just sad. I know some of you are young fans who may not have enjoyed the ‘glory days’ and gone though these tough times, but respect the history. Right now, for me and many other fans, Arsene is the greatest ever coach we have had. And for me, he’s even the greatest ever. He did so much for so long with the squad, while turning a profit, to build the stadium from which some bad egg fans then abused him. He deserves nothing but love now his career as a coach is over. As… Read more »


Top post, well said.



My first proper fully fledged Arsenal memories are as a 10 year old from the 88/89 season, and I still idolise Anders, so I’m not new to this either UGooner. I agree with what you said: Wenger was a great man, one of the greatest Arsenal managers in history (Chapman being the only other in the conversation) and deserves his statue. I love him so much even though I’ve never met him! I never once shouted Wenger Out in my life and looked in disdain and embarrassment at those who did. It still doesn’t change the fact I was desperate… Read more »


By the same token, the idiots who hate on Wenger, in spite of their sad pathetic opinions, never be able to change what he achieved – or take away the global respect he has from current and ex professionals and fans alike.


132 downvotes and counting.

I don’t think even I’ve managed that.

Congratulations. 🏆


Being a rookie manager and a very young team you just can’t stop dreaming about the potential of this team. My only hope is that we sign Darwin Nunes so we can all enjoy a proper evolution of the team

Merson's Grin

Lawrence McKenna has an interesting take on the continuing improvement under Arteta


I love that we have a manager who communicates in such a clear and positive way. He definitely seems to have taken some of the best traits of the managers he had in his career, yet he has his own distinct tone and language. Still early days in ‘the process’ but the signs are looking promising. Hope we do ourselves justice tonight. COYG


Another 3 years! +

Man Manny

The most assuring fact to me is that, for the first time since ’16, we have a recognisable plan to get back to the top, and the plan is clearly working.
It has taken Klopp seven years to take Liverpool to where they are today.
We are well on our way. By the time this group of players has been together for 3 years, plus the additions from the market, we’ll be rubbing shoulders with the best on a regular basis.


He’s probably one, if not the most insightful, openly self reflecting and well spoken managers in the game. The Arteta Era!!! (knock on wood, Barca will be trying to jinx him with his barca dna at some stage..)

Nick Mason

It amazes me that it took SO MANY people over 12 month to see just how good Arteta is.


Come on mate, be reasonable. Just over a year ago (Christmas 2020) we were in free fall and flirting with the relegation places. Arteta was three games from the sack and his final throw of the dice was to play ESR and Saka on Boxing Day against Chelsea at the Emirates. We won that and that was the turning point to what has been a steady but slow progression back to where we are now. Arteta deserves great credit for doing that – but let’s not start pretending that his managerial credentials have always been obvious to the naked eye.… Read more »

Nainsley Aitland Miles

It amazes me how many people wanted him gone after the United/Everton matches.
That was only three months ago.

Finsbury Park Gooner

Agreed. The Arteta Out morons must be so frustrated. He’s such a talented and passionate manager and we’re really starting to see what he’s capable of now. Sky’s the limit over the next decade if we can keep everything together.


That’s a big if mate.

An IF.


Stability is the key. Look at how other clubs just sack managers at the first sign of trouble. We have a good young coach, a young eager squad and they’re being given a chance to develop. Whilst we may complain about the board I think they’re playing it well in this regard. If we can continue to develop, keep hold of our best players and strengthen then we’ll be back fighting at the top in a couple of seasons.


Fantastic stuff from the manager. Again, I have been very vocal on these pages about occasions when I have felt that he has been somewhat over-egging the pudding and that his comments haven’t reflected the team’s performances and results. Now, however, I have to give him massive credit again, because what he says here is absolutely nailing it. It’s exactly what I – and any other Arsenal fan – would want from an Arsenal manager. To remain focused, humble and yet building an inner strength and confidence – both as individuals and as a team – that becomes a weapon… Read more »


I have been running a comparison between this season and the last, ie like for like teams played home and away, against the corresponding results. I have replaced the relegated teams with the promoted teams, Brentford for Fulham, Norwich for West Bromwich, and Watford for Sheffield United. after 26 games we are 10 points head. From the remaining fixture we gathered 6 wins, 2 draws and 4 losses = 20 points. If we achieve the same results we should get to 71, which should mean CL spot. As you all know, last season we lost our next two games Liverpool… Read more »


let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
yes arteta has improved the team. yes we have won 9 out of 11.
however, let’s see where we stand at the end of the season. has arteta learned from his mistakes? is he good tactically against “better” teams when we are behind? more importantly can he adjust when saka/odegaard/partey are not available?
top 4 is ours to lose now and let’s see what’s his level starting tonight!


I wouldn’t worry too much even if we lose today. What I will focus on performance and how it impacts the table come end of the season. We have a tough task ahead, let’s back the boys and see where they end up.


I have been running a comparison between this season and the last, ie like for like teams played home and away, against the results. I have replaced the relegated teams with the promoted teams, Brentford for Fulham, Norwich for West Bromwich, and Watford for Sheffield United. We are now 10 points head. From the remaining fixture we gathered 6 wins, 2 draws and 4 losses = 20 points. if we achieve the same results we should get to 71, which should mean CL spot. As you all know, last season we lost our next two games Liverpool (H) and Aston… Read more »

Thierry Bergkamp (Xhaka Out)

When you consider the covid break, and the below average squad which he inherited, Mikel has done a bloody good job, and not just for a rookie manager. He’s on his way to being a great imo.
I said here after the Man City 5 nil that we’ll beat Norwich and go on a run that will take us into the top 4 by the 13th match, and the doubters/moaners doubted. I could see he was onto something good here.
I did doubt him a little after the Everton match though

Dr Zebra

You did an amazing job getting us to 4th, thanks!

Jeremy DG

On the subject of tonight, I know Arseblogs brother is a mugsmasher but I don’t buy into all of this fawning over that lot, which often hear on here. They are a decent team and I’m willing to give them a lot of credit for what they’ve achieved (and how they achieved it crucially) That’s where it ends however. I’ve experienced too much rivalry and disappointment against them to have any kind of fondness. Also I’m sick and tired of seeing a gurning Klopp and a bunch of happy scousers after every time they play us. It’s frankly intolerable. I’d… Read more »


Um, Blogs’ brother is not a miugsmasher. He is THE mugsmasher. Carry on.

A Different George
Dennis Elbow

Yeah… f##k the scousers. 👍👍👍


Give me a gurning Klopp over a smirking Pep every day. Of course still want us to win, but I really hope they can beat City at the Etihad and take the title. Fuck those guys.


I actually respect Liverpool, who got their domestic success by being smart in the transfer market both ways, and built a fantastic team thanks to a fantastic – yet rather irritating – coach. I definitely could see us building a new rivalry with them in the coming years, whereas United, Chelsea and City will never deserve anything more than contempt.


I really don’t know how far Arteta, or any other manager for that matter, can take us, while other teams are being financially doped. I don’t know how the ¢h€£$ĸi situation will change, but next season we’ll have the bar¢¤d€$ as well ¢it€h to content with. You can only hope that the love between fans and the team/club results in the cash coming in, in the right kind of way, like with Man Untied (sic) and the Scousers. ManUre won’t be mismanaged forever! But all that said, Arteta is doing a great job, and clearly is not one to rest… Read more »


You couldn’t bring in a top manager and expect him to do what Mikel did.

He had the connections with the owners, the understanding of the crowd and how to slowly bring in the best elements of the managers he was under.

The discipline of Graham, the freedom of expression of Wenger, the positional play of pep and the doggedness and strength of purpose to a common goal of Moyes

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