Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Arteta praises young squad’s maturity, urges team to make life easier for Saka

Mikel Arteta says his squad deserve credit for producing such consistently impressive performances this season, especially given his starting lineups are regularly amongst the youngest in the Premier League.

The Gunners are yet to field an XI with an average age over 25 but continue to set the pace at the top of the table heading into the final match before the World Cup hiatus.

“It’s not easy. At that age and what some of the boys have done at 20 and 23 years old is rare. I don’t know if I’ve seen that in this league,” said Arteta ahead of the trip to Wolves.

“But credit to them, they have the courage and the personality and the maturity to take the moment the way they do, and obviously they have the quality and the talent to do it.”

In fairness, while the players, from front to back, have youth on their side, most have now garnered plenty of experience on the domestic, European and international stages.

Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhaes, Fabio Viera, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson and Marquinhos are the only squad members yet to earn senior international caps and even amongst that coterie, you’ve got guys with major honours, under-21 appearances, and big money and foreign moves to their names.

Arteta is clearly pleased with the way his players are functioning at the moment but he recognises there is still much room for improvement.

Asked if there was a specific performance so far this season where things have really come together, he said: “I don’t know, we had periods and big games when we have performed really well, especially against the top opponents.

“I think what we did last weekend [at Chelsea] showed a lot of maturity and another side of the team, when we really need to show it, we did it.

“It’s a work in progress all the time and what you are able to do today maybe you are not able to do tomorrow, and you have to be on your toes to try to get the team always on the right energy level and potential level to deliver the quality needed to win. Again, our focus is on getting better every day.”

The challenge for Arsenal will be carrying the momentum of the first portion of the season into the next during an unprecedented six-week mid-season break, which will include a training camp in Dubai.

“We will analyse the areas obviously that we need to improve, the areas that we are doing well, and just focus on the priorities and the things we have to work on.

“That ‘pre-season’ for us is going to have different phases. We have to maximise that period when we have internationals, when we don’t have them, when they are back, in what state they are, and address that, and be clever about making those decisions.”

One of the areas that he thinks the Gunners can improve is the way they make use of Bukayo Saka.

As the England winger’s star has risen in the last two years, opponents have increasingly targeted him with roughhouse treatment.

While Arteta expects the officials to deal with anything untoward, he’s hinted the rest of the team could do more to help him out.

“The referees have the duties to deal with that. The better the players become the bigger target they become because people try and find ways to stop him.

“That is why football has very clear rules, what you can do and what you cannot do, and that is the referee’s job.

“You can see at a certain point it becomes about timing, the decision making, in the space you have generated before that action, and the understanding and knowledge of what is going to happen before it happens.

“Sometimes it is the type of ball we give him and when we give him certain balls.”

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The thing I notice with Saka is that when he gets the ball teams immediately double team him and drop really deep. It means we end up well inside their final third with control. When Saka feeds Ødegaard centrally there is one less defender and a single pass can create a shot on goal.
Saka’s threat is so great that it forces teams into last ditch defense – without Saka actually doing much.

Johnny 4 Hats

This is why I get annoyed when we win matches but negative fans say “Yeah, but Odegaard / Saka / Jesus was quiet”. Basically the opposition have to choose which player to focus their energy on. Of late I actually think it’s been Odegaard because he played so well in the early part of the season. If a player is quiet, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s been poor. It could actually mean the opposite. The opponent are so fearful that they are doubling up on them and attempting to nullify them. Luckily, for the first time in a long time,… Read more »


The transformation from last season has been phenomenal, building a team , a culture , a togetherness, great stuff Mikel , I trust the process

Martin Dass

A Gunner since68′. Blessed to be part of this team. Everyone, close your eyes and support this project, and be patient.
” it’s like a very good product, to consistently be playing at this high level of soccer, we need to bring in the right buys, during this winter break, it’s one of our most important part of 2022 /23 season.

Boy Bastin

I think who we buy (if we manage to buy, of course) during the January window will probably determine whether we can press on successfully for the PL title in the post-World Cup period. It’s pretty clear now that Arteta cannot currently afford to rest too many first-choice players and expect to get a result in almost any game as witnessed against Zurich (eight first-eleven players were used to secure the narrow win) and Brighton (only four first-eleven played) recently. The good news is that Edu has shown himself very adept at getting quality players in for “reasonable” fees so… Read more »

A Different George

I think a genuine title challenge (as distinct from a Champions League place) requires two or three players in January who are good enough to start regularly in a top-four side and maybe flexible enough to play more than one role. Right now we have 14 at that level–the first 11 plus Smith Rowe, Tomiyasu, and Tierney. That doesn’t mean they have to be as good as the players they replace, but good enough to “belong” in the side. So, someone who is good enough to play on the right in place of Saka–what Marquinos might be in the future.… Read more »

Boy Bastin

Let’s hope that the youngsters can keep it up so that we can end this part of the season with the three points at Wolves. It would be a shame, and a blow to the team confidence as well I think, if we were to go into the World Cup break behind City having done so well so far.


Totally agree, so how about we open up a 5 point gap instead?

Boy Bastin

Even better.

Tomaury Bischfeld

No chance of that 😉 thanks Brentford…but let’s make it a 5 point gap then we’re very close to being top at NY!!!

Boy Bastin

Absolutely, the bigger the gap the better as long as there’s not another shock at Wolves, of course. One shock is enough today, isn’t it.


Another so call shock on it’s way courtesy from Leeds 🤗


Ppfff…. or not 🙃
Anyway, this should not prevent us from getting 3 points. COYG!!!


For this unexpected gift to the Arsenal, Toney deserves to be in England WC squad ahead of Kane and Wilson.

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Now that was a nice kickabout with the lads. Lovely assist by former Arsenal player Josh Dasilva too.


All that was missing was Neville dancing with the fans!


Off-topic, but we have to get this win in today. These are the hurdles the Arsenal of the last few years would have choked, and that was fighting for 4th place. An away win at Wolves now regardless of the state they’re in, with the ‘pressure’ on now, i think will give us a true measure of where we are. COYG!! What a dream it would be to go into this break 5 ahead of City!!

Boy Bastin

Quite right. It’s an ideal opportunity to go five points ahead of City which would be the most we’ve been in front this season.

Bill Hall

Man City were beaten at home by Brentford, hahahaha

Top of the league till Boxing day now no matter what!

Boy Bastin

Yes, that must be the shock result of the season so far. However, despite that we don’t want another shock at Wolves, do we. This is an ideal opportunity to pull a little further away from City and give us some “wriggle room” going into the break. Let’s hope we don’t waste it.


we are top of the league say we are top of the league!! 😉


Hope Blogs is alright?
Great 3 points, 5 points clear till Xmas…. And more to come! just buzzzin’🤗🤗🤗


Blogs at a wedding

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