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Arsenal: 5 improvements under Arteta this season

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Arsenal, Mikel Arteta

5 improvements are growing in visibility under Mikel Arteta this season as he aims to forge Arsenal into a more structured and threatening unit. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)

Arsenal are not losing games in the Premier League. Everything is rosy. The team is in finer fettle and everything they do turns to gold and is improving. Well, not quite, but it does look like things are on the up for this team, even if there are plenty of bumps in the road to come.

From the tactical disasterclasses that were on show against Chelsea and Manchester City to the utter domination against Tottenham, Mikel Arteta is putting his stamp on this team.

And, yes, the obvious and understandable response to this is that he’s been in the job for 20 months. In terms of putting a stamp on things that’s like Mr. Burns trying to crush an ant with his foot.

Whatever the ‘project’ may have been was never intended to be a short-term fix. Naturally, if that was at all manageable then it’s a bonus. Everyone wants to make an impact as quickly as possible not least as this is a results business.

5 growing improvements under Mikel Arteta this season as he aims to forge Arsenal into a more structured and threatening unit

Arsenal fans are now majorly on board with the idea of this being a mid to long-term project that would never be undertaken overnight. One need only glance at the state of the squad Arteta inherited with the global and football climate around him to see this was a long process with an awful lot of hurdles to scale.

The darkest of days most supporters will have ever witnessed in their lives has seen them dragged through hell. Some of the depths Arsenal have sunk to mankind have yet to explore.

On the pitch there are signs of life, though. Inklings of improvements in how the team operates that even in the short amount of games that have followed since the Manchester City trouncing are visible.

While the sample size is admittedly very small, and Brighton was a setback, already fans are being treated to an Arsenal side edging closer to where they and the club envisage them being. Arteta is making strides, even if some more closely resemble baby steps.

Arsenal, Mikel Arteta

Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta gestures during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Norwich City at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)

1. Arteta is Improving His Substitutions & In-Game Management

A source of supreme anguish and discontent, the manager has enraged more than just a few of the Arsenal faithful with some of his bizarre substitutions.

Either too late or just downright befuddling, none stand out more than the decision to keep Dani Ceballos on the pitch in the first leg away at Villarreal in last season’s Europa League. The entire footballing world screamed in unison to take the Spaniard off, not only because he was playing poorly but due to the inevitability of his sending off.

Spilled milk, etc.

There has been an improvement in that regard: switching up the system at home to Norwich and bringing in greater central steel after the 60-minute mark at Burnley are decisions the manager would have been unlikely to make in the months gone by. Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe, while it didn’t work, were the right calls at Brighton.

Having a better calibre of player to choose from helps, but Arteta stated that he’s looked long and hard at his own performances, and his in-game management has shown signs of positive tinkering.

Everyone will have noticed the unmistakably Arsene Wenger-esque additional wing-back subs against Tottenham. Nuno Tavares and Ainsley Maitland-Niles might as well have been Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson.

Continued…

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