Why Arsenal's Future Looks Bright
Everyone knows Arsenal have become the laughing stock of the Premier League. Having been mired in mid-table mediocrity for much of the current campaign, the Gunners' have endured some of the worst form in decades. Such disappointing and dire results led to the dismissal of Unai Emery. Club legend Freddie Ljungberg took over on an interim basis before former captain Mikel Arteta was lured over from Pep Guardiola's coaching team at Manchester City.
During his first three months in charge, Arteta led somewhat of a mini-revival, restoring some balance to a team that played with such a lack of cohesion before. Arsenal have not lost a single league game in 2020 and while the Europa League exit against Olympiakos was a blip, they did look like a finely oiled machine before Arteta tested positive for Covid-19. Since then, the global pandemic has led to all sporting activity being postponed but Arsenal and their fans will be hoping that once it resumes, they can actually fight for a top four place this season and continue on next season.
Here, let us take a look at some of the reasons why Arteta and his men can actually get back to the level they once were.
1) Arteta improves players.
It is often said that a great manager can elicit great performances from even a less than great player and that is what Arteta has been doing. While some good players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka and Bernd Leno have been in form, there have been a couple of players whose Arsenal career have been given new hope by their manager.
Shkodran Mustafi started just 1 Premier League before Arteta arrived but since then, he has become a mainstay in defence. Barring a moment of madness against Chelsea, Mustafi has been excellent alongside David Luiz and showed signs of why Arsenal shelled out a lot of money for him back in 2016. Under Aretat's tutelage, the German defender has actually become a solid player, something not many envisioned just a few months ago.
Another prime example has been the resurgence of Granit Xhaka. Stripped off captaincy following a row with the supporters, Xhaka looked to be on his way back to Germany before Arteta stepped in and ensured his stay. Since then, Arsenal are yet to lose a league game with Xhaka. With his manager's tactical tweaks, Xhaka has found a new lease of life and when he drops back as an auxiliary defender, he finds time and space on the ball, things that make his incisive passing even more valuable for the team.
A proper football vision:
After more than three years of being the assistant of one of the greatest managers ever, Arteta was expected to weave his tactical knowledge over the under-performing Arsenal team and to an extent, he has done so. Injuries certainly have not helped his cause while it simply might be that some of the current players in the squad are not at the level required. Even then, Arteta has managed to impart some method of balance to the team while making them defensively secure.
Before his arrival, Arsenal kept 3 clean-sheets in 18 matches, conceding an average of 1.5 goals per game. Since then, they have kept 4 clean-sheets in just 10 league matches, conceding an average of just 0.9 goals per game. That is a remarkable improvement and one that can be the stepping stone to further improvements and successes in the near future.
Emergence of Young stars:
The biggest positives from the current campaign for the Gunners were the emergence of two 18 year old superstars in the making - Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli. Both were inducted into the first team by Unai Emery and have impressed tremendously throughout the campaign.
Saka, who came through the Arsenal Academy, announced his arrival with a goal and 2 assists in an Europa League game against Eintracht Frankfurt and he has been simply superb since then, despite being asked to play in an unfamiliar position of left-back. Saka has 3 goals and 10 assists in all competitions this season, excellent numbers for any player, let alone a teenager playing in his first season as a professional. His contract is up next year and Arsenal must do all they can to secure his future. His future is exciting and so will be the club's if he decides to stay for a long time.
Like Saka, Martinelli too has made such a huge impact on Arsenal's season. With 10 goals already, 3 in the Premier League, Martinelli has become a household name, despite playing in the Brazilian 4th Division last year. The youngster's best moment came in the 2-2 draw at Chelsea where he ran the length of the pitch to score a solo goal while he also scored twice against Liverpool at Anfield earlier in the season. With such energetic displays and his tendency to work his socks off for the team, it is a no-brainer that Martinelli will be a bonafide superstar in the coming years.