What 11 ex-players and pundits have said about Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal

Quick Reads

Since taking the Arsenal job in December 2019, Mikel Arteta has helped create a much more promising outlook for the Gunners.

Arteta has already won the FA Cup and the Community Shield and also has an excellent record against the Premier League’s big six. 

We’ve taken a look at what ex-players, pundits and managers have said about the manager’s work so far.

Rio Ferdinand

“They’re a well-drilled team and I think this season it’s going to be a common denominator about what you say all the time about this Arsenal team – they’re well-coached. That’s how they look,” Ferdinand said on BT Sport after their 3-0 win over Fulham.

“They’re happy to be here, they’re happy defending and they look comfortable more importantly. They enjoy it, they enjoy being in defensive areas to get their friends out of trouble.”

Sol Campbell

“I’m more optimistic [about finishing in the top four] because if they can carry on like this and grow with confidence and the new players settle in, then why not,” Campbell told Premier League productions after the win over Fulham.

“Yes, there are other teams in there who have invested a lot of money and are vying for those positions. But I think if they can carry on like they were at the end of this season and today then they have a good chance.”

READ: An ode to Sol Campbell’s neverending slide tackle & a great England moment

Ashley Cole

“As young coaches, you never know until you’re put in these situations,” Cole told Stats Perform News in August.

“Arteta has done a great job in transforming Arsenal into playing good football, making them good to watch.

“I think it’s a good sign that owners and chairmen are giving young coaches a chance without much experience. But young coaches can’t gain experience unless they are given an opportunity.”

Paul Merson

“Arsenal have a plan, they go and press when they have to, drop off when they don’t, they play with high energy and counter attack as a team,” Merson told Sky Sports in July.

“Arteta has done an absolutely phenomenal job. It’s the first time I’ve watched Arsenal in many, many years, and they have a plan. I honestly think he’s done a brilliant job. I can’t talk highly enough of him.”

Patrick Vieira

“When you’re a Gunner, you’re always a Gunner, so I’m watching them all the time, I watch their games,” Vieira told Ian Wright in an interview for Adidas in May.

“What is really interesting with Arteta is that he brings the energy back and it looks like they are playing for the club, but for the manager as well, and I think that is really important.”

READ: Patrick Vieira scored a goal so silky, so futile, it sums up Wenger’s Arsenal

Peter Crouch

“The way Arsenal’s players went to engulf Alexandre Lacazette after he had scored his first goal in nine matches was significant,” Crouch said in his Mail Online column after Arsenal’s 3-2 win over Everton in February.

“At long last, there looked to be some spirit. I am not getting carried away and saying they are back — they remain some distance from where they used to be — but I saw flashes of character, togetherness and camaraderie in the way Lacazette was swamped.

“For that, I have to give full credit to Mikel Arteta. You think about the situation the new manager walked into last December.

“The atmosphere was poisonous, there was the infamous falling-out between Granit Xhaka and the crowd and Arsenal looked much more like individuals than a team.”

Jamie Carragher

“In the early days of his reign, it is pleasing to see why so many believed in him,” Carragher said in his Daily Telegraph column in January.

“I have been impressed by Arteta’s impact. A radical change is needed at Arsenal and the most important feature of Arteta’s first few weeks is that he has identified as much, spoken publicly about it, and backed his words with actions.

“His communication is extremely impressive, as is his demeanour and the sense that he has a clear vision which he will stick to.

“He is already getting more from his players than Unai Emery was able to during this season, while his ability to engage with supporters through the media is a major distinction from his predecessor.

“What is most encouraging is how the work on the training pitch is so visible on a match day, even after relatively few sessions.”

Ian Wright

“When you look at our manager he is a very focused, driven guy and knows exactly what Arsenal are about,” Wright told Good Morning Britain in September.

“When you look at the transformation and culture change under Mikel Arteta, you have to say we are on the right track and that is the only thing you want to worry about right now.”

READ: Seven reasons why you can’t help but love former Arsenal hero Ian Wright

Martin Keown

“Say what you want about the Community Shield — whether you think it is a trophy or a glorified friendly — but the act of securing silverware is never a bad habit to have,” Keown said in his Mail Online column after Arsenal beat Liverpool at Wembley.

“The players had only a handful of training sessions together in the build-up, but we saw a well-coached side cause Jurgen Klopp’s team problems.

“You could see the philosophy behind the opening goal as Arsenal went from back to front in less than 20 seconds.

“There was a real identity to this performance under Arteta. His back three was sturdy and you wonder whether that is the system he is ready to stand by. This was a good day out for Arteta’s Arsenal.”

Danny Murphy

“What really impressed me was Arsenal’s mentality. That has changed under Arteta too,” Murphy said in his Mail Online column after Arsenal won the Community Shield. “When Liverpool got their equaliser, I thought there was only one winner.

“In the past, Arsenal would have crumbled. But this is not the same Arsenal any more. They hit back and had a good go to win it themselves in normal time. They continue to show real signs of improvement.”

Pep Guardiola

“They have something special already, they have a team spirit Mikel has created,” Guardiola said in July.

“I see from the side how they celebrate goals, how they fight for every ball. They have begun to create something special for the club. We approach Arsenal like we do the other ones.

“Arsenal were one of the elite clubs in English football for the last 20, 30 years. I am pretty sure he is the right person to take them back to the position they were.

“When the club supports him there is no better person to do the job than Mikel. I have the feeling he is creating something unique. If he can be supported by the club with investment, get the players they need, they can be contenders for the next years.”

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