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7 times that Mikel Arteta was football’s answer to David Brent

Mikel Arteta has transformed Arsenal from mid-table fodder to title contenders, but it’s not escaped attention that he’s produced moments worthy of David Brent along the way.

After taking charge at the Emirates in December 2019, the former midfielder has elevated Arsenal’s squad and reinvigorated the fanbase with expectations high for the 2023-24 as they return to the Champions League and look to challenge Manchester City once more.

But we’d like to focus on the weird, wonderful and slightly bizarre moments that have turned the Arsenal boss into an internet sensation.

Kai Havertz

Arteta defended the slow start Havertz has made to life at Arsenal with a toe-curling analogy about how he seduced his wife.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the victory over Manchester United in September 2023, he said: “I said to him yesterday, things are hard in the beginning. When I met my wife, in the beginning it was hard to conquer her and I had to try and keep messaging.

“In the end, she said yes, she wanted to be together and it was beautiful. If it is a yes on the first day, it is not that great. I think the crowd was really good with him today.”

Asked how he won over his wife, Arteta responded: “Being persistent and determined!”

Motorways & multiple formations

Analogies are all well and good, but much like cake recipes and remote controls, they can be made to look incredibly complicated in the wrong hands.

And, after an initial reply explaining his side had used 36 different formations against Fulham and 43 against Manchester City, Arteta opted for another method of describing the nuances of his in-game tactics.

“Every morning I come from my house to Colney [Arsenal’s training ground]. Sometimes I leave at six, and I need to go with the windscreen because it’s icy. And at six o’clock normally I go Finchley Road and then A41 because it’s faster.

“Now, Finchley Road is 20 miles per hour [speed limit]. So sometimes I take a back road. But then I go on the M25. But depending if it’s a school ride at that time, I take one exit. If it’s after seven o’clock, I take a different exit, and then I go.

“And one day I have a flat tyre, what do I do? I have to replace it. Maybe I take a different road because the garage is there. So every game is a different story guys.”

We can imagine the assembled press turning to each other in the glorious realisation that this bog-standard press conference had delivered liquid gold.

Win

After Arsenal’s 2022-23 title challenge withered once the clocks went forward, Arteta made a crucial signing to enhance the feelgood vibe at the Emirates – a chocolate Labrador. The dog, who is affectionately called “Win”, spends most days at the club’s training ground at London Colney.

Arteta hoped to exploit research that has shown petting a dog can be calming, improve a mood and reduce stress levels. He also thought this very good girl could enhance the spirit of togetherness that almost dragged Arsenal to the Premier League summit.

While we can’t disagree that Win is the cutest addition to the Arsenal family, Arteta’s explanation of her name was incredibly Brent.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Amazon’s ‘All or Nothing’ documentary charting Arsenal’s 2021-22 season was many people’s first introduction to Arteta’s methods. It’s safe to say that some left an incredible impact on the football zeitgeist.

Before the Gunners faced Liverpool in November 2021, the Arsenal boss made the out-there decision to conduct training against the backdrop of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ to replicate the infamous Anfield atmosphere.

Safe to say it didn’t work; Arsenal lost 4-0 and Arteta riled the Anfield crowd by getting stuck into Jurgen Klopp on the touchline.

Aston Villa 

The Office became a household hit in the early 2000s with Brent stealing the show with a variety of gurns, tics and cringeworthy expressions capturing the essence of the painfully uncool boss.

Arteta’s karaoke version of Brent’s Comic Relief dance (ask your dad) came at Villa Park in February 2023, busting out the dance moves usually reserved for a family wedding to mock the match officials.

Palm-rubbing

Prior to a visit to Leicester City in October 2021, Arteta encouraged his players to do something a little different while stood in a circle in the away dressing room at the King Power.

“We’re going to do something, guys,” the Spaniard said. “We’re going to get all the energy in this room together. If I tell you I want you to start with this (rubbing palms). I want you to close your eyes and I’m going to tell you what’s going to happen in the game.

“And then you’re going to grab each other’s hands and we’re going to create energy in a bubble and play f*cking there [pointing towards the pitch]. Close your eyes.”

Although it was an unusual method, it appeared to do the trick as Arsenal claimed a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Gabriel and Emile Smith-Rowe in the first 20 minutes.

Heart & passion

Ahead of a match against bitter rivals Tottenham in September 2021, Arteta sketched out cartoons of a heart, a brain and an Arsenal fan, with the word “energy” connecting them all.

Some viewers were sceptical, but Arsenal went on to beat Spurs 3-1 that day.

Speaking to BBC Sport before the Amazon documentary was released, Arteta said: “You win the game it works, you don’t win the game, it doesn’t work. The players responded to it. Then I had to hear them making jokes. In the moment it helped – they didn’t expect it.”

We just wish Arteta had gone full Brent and busted out his guitar. Now that would’ve been worth watching…


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