Sporadic 1-0 home wins against Norwich are rarely seismic – but this one on September 11, 2021 was certainly for Arsenal and Mikel Arteta.
Those were the first of two crossroads moments that defined Arteta’s reign.
Arsenal had lost their first three Premier League matches this season without scoring and an obituary was in the making. I know because I was one of those who felt it was only a matter of time before Arteta was sacked.
He seems to have moved away from being a practical manager into a theoretical one. He wasn’t actually standing for or representing anything. It seemed like he had no effect, he had no answers to the bigger questions and he started to think things over.
A little pressure was released as they beat Norwich and the next crossroads moment concerned the man who scored that crucial goal – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Arsenal thanks Mikel Arteta for his rapid rise to the top of the Premier League
The Spanish coach made a bold call to ax star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the latest campaign
Arteta didn’t let his traditional player strength get the better of him, prostituting himself for someone like Aubameyang. Everyone said that Arteta should play him because he was a proven goalscorer.
But Arteta was adamant. He didn’t stick to typical football thinking, bending to the will of a big player, so it was a bit off the mark.
It was the piece of Arteta’s resistance. The moment that determined his support and support by the monarchy. He had the balls to give up his star player, regardless of the short-term effect on his team, because ownership got along with him and saw things in him. He was strong, brave and brave. And bloody right.
After Aubameyang was sacked to Barcelona, Arsenal went on an impressive run before suffocating at the end of the season, handing Tottenham a place in the Champions League.
But Arsenal’s owners could see, from Arteta’s actions all season, that he had vitality and head and dispelled the notion that it was all theory – he started to practice reality.
At Anfield last season, Arteta, in his boob jacket in the penalty area, took on one of Jurgen Klopp’s biggest touchline bullies, and while he may have been misguided and inappropriate, you could see he was in it, across it and not worry in the slightest where he was. It backfired as Arsenal lost 4-0 but if I were the owner of Arsenal I would have loved to see that.
Back in 2019 when Arteta walked through the door, the club was in disarray and unrecognizable from the club we see today. And it all comes down to Arteta.
Bukayo Saka has emerged as one of the top talents in world football during Arteta’s reign as president
I went to the Arsenal vs Manchester City game earlier this season and my experience was one of the football clubs that matched perfectly with each other. From the software vendor forward. There was drive, energy, and a sense of sheer connectedness.
Arteta was jumping and jumping like crazy and the players were interacting with the crowd. Every aspect of it impressed me, and even after losing to their title rivals, the place was jumping.
It’s felt a long way from the days of the Arsenal TV fan screaming, yelling like a riot and cashing in on the club’s decline.
While I admire Arteta and don’t want to belittle his amazing work, I think he was a real beneficiary of certain timelines.
Luck is a big part of everyone’s life – in business and sport – and Arteta has had a few big slices.
He was fortunate that distractions like Covid and disruption to football changed the landscape, giving people the slightest pass. He has dealt with the Europa League chaos admirably and the atmosphere around the club has changed.
Suddenly ‘Silent’ Stan Kroenke is more involved and more vocal in his checkbook, the club is starting to communicate better with fans, and the approach has prompted Arsenal owner Daniel Ek to start taking them seriously rather than a subsidiary. long. of his American business interests.
The manager has put together a group in the Emirates – and has the support of his players
But Arteta’s luck has also been matched with skill, patience and a change of direction.
And underneath it all, he’s been building knowledge, confidence and faith while getting support from newly revitalized owners and sporting director Edu.
He had the courage of his convictions to bring William Saliba back from France. Granit restored Xhaka to his rightful position, giving him a chance to thrive instead of the toxic deadwood effect he had. He also signed up with Aaron Ramsdell when he cross-examined everyone, telling him he actually had a better No. 1 in Bernd Leno. These were all big calls and they paid off.
It’s all well and good being the beneficiary of timing and fortuitous events with all the pieces falling into the right places at the right time but you still have to put the pieces together, you still have to deliver.
And boy, has he delivered with Arsenal on the cusp of greatness again.
Last summer, he broke into the coffers at City to sign two key players in this title challenge.
Gabriel Jesus was the initiator, the catalyst. Arsenal needed something after knocking them out a place in the top four and bang, Jesus comes to get them up and running. The signing of Oleksandr Zinchenko was also transformative.
Suddenly you have chemistry on your hands. A wizard’s apprentice begins to become a wizard – ironically, with the tools of a wizard!
Arsenal were very active in the transfer market last summer – bringing in star striker Gabriel Jesus
So, all roads lead to Manchester. If Arsenal can avoid defeat at the Etihad Stadium next month, I think they will win the title.
I hope they do. In 2004, no one would have believed Arsenal would wait 19 years for their next title but if they lose, perhaps on goal difference, I think rather than being defeated and reduced as they did with Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool in 2014 – they will go from strength to strength.
They are here to stay and Arsenal must make sure Arteta is the one too. He is a force to be reckoned with.
Lace him up, secure his future, let him complete the rebuilding job – and whatever you do, don’t return the favor to City and gift him Arteta when Pep Guardiola leaves.
In-form Arsenal are eight points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League
Eddie should be chasing a victory worth celebrating
We’re in Coronation Year and there are times in my life in work and football where I’ve been the kingmaker, but I’ve never been in boxing.
Last week Eddie Hearn at talkSPORT DAZN push pros asked me to do something with him.
And so Eddie appeared on our show, among other things, to get Anthony Joshua’s return some much-needed PR.
After what I considered to be a very healthy debate, Eddie then spent the last week or so running a victory lap on the assumption that he won said debate.
Eddie Hearn (R) joined TalkSPORT in a heated confrontation over Conor Bean’s failed drug test.
Little did I know it was a title contest at stake. I have to wonder what assurance one gets from such self-aggrandizement, but it begs the question, isn’t there an opportunity for something more important and much needed for the sport – like a moral victory?
Instead of adding more potential reputation to the boxing scene, Edina could use his time, energy, and so-called influence in a positive situation.
Instead of Darth Vader being into boxing and motivating a fighter – Chris Eubanks Jr. – on the dark side to have him fight Connor Penn in Saudi Arabia, he’d likely break his relationship with the British Boxing Board of Control because their permission is required to obtain a licence. A fighter to fight abroad, why not focus on ensuring Connor stands up to the BBBC and spells his name correctly?
Now that’s really going to be a deserved victory lap, Eddie.
Conor Bean (center) was scheduled to fight Chris Eubanks Jr. (left) before he failed a drug test last year.
Southgate pushes the FA’s agenda
Gareth Southgate’s remark that he might have to dip into the England Players Championship is an absurd analogy because he plays Harry Maguire and is not in the starting line-up for Manchester United.
This is a classic example of why Gareth Southgate got the job in the first place – he’s an FA man.
The FA has told everyone we need to see more home-grown players in our top-flight while the Premier League wants to reduce the points required post-Brexit to make it easier for foreign players to play here.
So Southgate’s protests are very much in line with the FA’s agenda and should be seen as such.