The curious case of Arteta

Mikel Arteta

The just ended season was quite a whirlwind for the Spaniard and his team, it started bad, then got better, then it wasn’t that good, and it ended with a respectable run of results that was not enough to make up for the first 33 games. “Arsenal were the second best team in the league since boxing day”, they played 24 games and won 14 in that period, was it a good sign or a purple patch?

Having looked at the metrics during that run, they suggest that Arsenal outperformed the expected number of goals scored by six, conceded 6 goals less than expected according to the quality of chances they faced hence outperforming the expected points return by seven. Their shots conversion rate during that period rose from 10% which is quite standard to 13% which is excellent. While that is a good thing, it is not sustainable over a long period.

For optimists, that run since boxing day represents hope, the hope that their team is better than what the final league table suggests. The hope that Arteta’s process is starting to work. The hope that Arteta has learned lessons from the first year of his career. The hope that a top four finish might be attainable the coming season. For the pessimists, they’ll say that their final league position represents their actual performances overall. They will say that they have not seen any tangible improvements since Unai Emery left despite the improvements in the squad. What good is an excellent run if it ends up as an inconsequential part of an unwanted season?

Having watched Arsenal over the years, Arteta’s team is the most zombified Arsenal side I have ever seen. Ignore the results for a minute, lets try to point out the good things in that Arsenal team. I would be right to assume that you are struggling to say anything other than Smith-Rowe’s industry, Kieran Tierney’s passion and Bernd Leno. Passing backwards and sideways whenever they meet a defensive block that has negated openings for a clear chance was never something you would say about Arsenal in the yesteryears. Arsenal were renowned for their encouragement of flair to bolster creativity up top. Arsenal’s best results Under Arteta have come in fashions that would make Sean Dyche proud and I do think that not many Arsenal fans are happy about that.

Many football fans can sell their soul and accept drilled, joyless football if it meant success especially if they have been deprived of success for sometime like Arsenal have, but does Arteta promise success? Consistently finishing 8th in the league tends to say otherwise. This new trend of football clubs hiring their former players is a fever that needs to be done away with as soon as possible. Chelsea realized it sooner than later and they are now on the cusp of conquering Europe barely half a season later, something that was a farfetched dream under Lampard. Manchester United have not yet seen their mistake and its no wonder they are playing a cup final like a team coached by a naïve football fan from Salford. Arsenal are competing for positions with West Ham United being coached by a supposed genius.

There is nothing to suggest that Arteta is going anywhere anytime soon, and that in itself is a shame since its Arsenal, a club with prestige. Will we see a better Arsenal side next season? Will Arsenal’s style of play at least improve since they’re being managed by Pep Guardiola’s ‘protégé’? Personally, I would not bet on it, it feels like Arsenal are delaying the inevitable.

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