‘Take the ball, pass the ball’ was the mantra adopted by Barcelona under Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta has now got his Arsenal side playing with the same flourish.
As if being top of the Premier League wasn’t impressive enough, Arteta also has his squad playing some of the most fluid football in Europe.
From back to front, everyone at Arsenal is in perfect harmony with one another. Even in the tightest of situations, they still somehow manage to play their way out of trouble.
The Gunners were well in the mood when they travelled to Fulham this weekend and their second goal of the game perfectly showcased the template that Arteta has been building towards.
Every Arsenal outfield player touched the ball in the build-up to Gabriel Martinelli’s goal as they strung together 23 passes before Leandro Trossard expertly picked out the Brazilian.
Fulham were no mugs in the build-up to this goal either. Marco Silva’s side pressed Arsenal back into their own box, but this was all part of the masterplan.
Bukayo Saka’s role in the build-up to the goal shouldn’t go unnoticed as he tiptoed around a couple of defenders as if they were training cones.
Perhaps what was most impressive though was William Saliba’s excellent switch of play to Granit Xhaka. The Swiss midfielder then had the freedom of London to charge into the Fulham half.
What then followed was an audacious stop-and-turn from Trossard before he lofted the ball into the box for Martinelli to finish off. This was total football.
Even Guardiola’s 2011 Barcelona side would have blushed at the beauty of this goal.
It’s no surprise that Arteta has got his side playing in this fluid style as he himself comes from the Guardiola school of football. After all, they did spend several years together at Manchester City.
“I think the influence that Pep had on football in the last 20 years is just incredibly powerful,” Arteta told reporters in January. “He changed the game like Johan (Cruyff) did in the past, he did it like other managers who will go down in history.
“What inspired me was his way of thinking, his way of transmitting his beliefs, the way he understood the game, the passion he had about the game.
“Then, when you have a personal relationship with somebody – and you have that chemistry – that takes it to a different level, and that’s what happened in my case, especially when we worked together (at City).
“So we have learned a lot from him, we have been inspired by a lot of things he’s done and then everyone has to build his own career and his own pathway.”
Arsenal’s Premier League destiny remains in their own hands as they hold a five-point lead over Man City. If they continue to play with the same flourish, there’s every chance that they claim the title this year.