Mikel Arteta says great clubs don’t worry about making personnel changes as it’s part of a constant cycle of improvement.
Since taking over as head coach at Emirates Stadium in December 2019, the Spaniard hasn’t been afraid to marginalise and move on players if he feels they drop short of the required standards or don’t fit with his philosophy.
Some have left through the front door, like Granit Xhaka this summer, others have been unceremoniously dumped via pay-offs or sent on repeated loans until their contracts run out.
He makes no apologies for being so ruthless and recognises that he’s as at risk as anyone else.
“You look at the great clubs, they might have a decent side but they won’t worry about getting in better players to keep improving,” he told his pre-Community Shield press conference.
“That’s what we have to do. We have to try to be better and if the margins that we have within the squad we believe are not enough, or we cannot keep improving, then we have to look somewhere else to try to make that. But that goes to every individual, and the first one is myself.”
Having enjoyed a thrilling campaign last time out, one that far exceeded initial expectations but ultimately left all concerned disappointed, Arsenal now face increased expectations, especially having dropped another £200 million on new recruits.
Arteta says he and his players need to tackle that head-on.
“When you do better, the expectations will be higher and as well the way we have recruited. I think it takes that and not only the position, but the team, the way the team was playing and the performances that we’re putting on the pitch and the environment that it was created around the club, I think promotes that [more expectations].
“But we need to be very clear that what happened last season means nothing, you know, that we have to start now the season in the best possible way and earn the right again and try to build that momentum.
“For sure [we should enjoy those expectations] because this is where we want to move the club.
“We have to be able to enjoy and promote and then grab the opportunity that we have in front of us with a lot of motivation and desire to try to accomplish everything that we want to do.”
There’s a lot resting on young shoulders – the Gunners will again have one of the youngest squads in the league this season – and Arteta is expecting new leaders to emerge to fill the vacuum left by Xhaka.
He said: “We have to promote leadership from other areas and there are very young players there as well that now they’ve been with us for a while and they have to start to look forward and take initiative and go another step further because that’s going to be needed for sure.”