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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park

Arteta has unlocked the Pep gene: He gave the most passive aggressive answer of 2023

A 1-0 win away to Crystal Palace on a Monday night is a statement victory, but Arsenal still felt as though they left short-changed following Takehiro Tomiyasu’s second-half dismissal.

Sometimes you just have to take what you can get and run for your life. The sign of a truly great team is one that recognises that, and has no problem in doing so.

Despite the game feeling cagey at times, the Gunners were good for all three points and that is all Mikel Arteta seemed bothered about after the match, as he continues his ascent to managerial royalty; a recurring theme with Pep Guardiol disciples.

What is also becoming a recurring theme, in more alarming circumstances, are the ‘Pep-isms’ that his disciples appear to have picked up on. And not the good ones.

Arteta is undoubtedly the biggest offender. He’s tapping into his former mentor’s brain more and more by the day, and while that’s had an unwaveringly positive effect on Arsenal on the pitch, turning them into title challengers once again, it comes with its quirks.

One of those quirks is a cult of personality that rears its head on the touchline, but also in interviews with a passive aggression that belongs on Broadway. After a contentious red card to Tomiyasu, that was out in full flow and we can’t get enough of it.

If you look hard enough and with a bit of a squint, you can actually see Arteta’s face beginning to morph into Guardiola’s. 13 seconds of utter box office content; possibly more entertaining than the 90 minutes or so that preceded it.

Just completely ignores the interviewer’s first question and provides the most deadpan one-liner response possible. ‘I’m so happy’ – yeah, sure you are Mikel. We see right through you.

So happy that he’ll just stroll back down the corridor at Selhurst Park and conveniently land outside the official’s dressing room, maybe conveniently knock on the door and exchange a few kind words with them all about his feelings on Tomiyasu’s dismissal. That kind of happy.

Serious ‘More than you believe I am happy’ vibes from when Guardiola’s City beat Burnley 2-1 despite the dismissal of Fernandinho in 2017. We have a feeling Arteta is on a pathway to unlocking similar levels of psycho after the above clip.

It’s a textbook Pep-ism. That’s what we’re coining this from now on. The corner of his brain has been unlocked that sees a manager become an all-timer by unlocking traits of a maniac, to the point where he comes across like an extraterrestrial in front of the media at times.

It’s a rare sighting in football as only the elite can come across as so passive-aggressive that they don’t appear human, so it’s nothing short of tremendous when it accidentally spills out.

Between Arsenal’s continually improving football, Arteta’s progression as a coach and his colourful approach on the touchline, the Gunners are finally beginning to display all the hallmarks of a title-winning Premier League side in 2023. Superhuman abilities and mental strengths instilled in them by a genius who is losing his mind, slowly but surely.

One more ropey red card call before the first international break of the season and we wouldn’t be surprised if it prompts the Arsenal boss to do a Britney and show up bald after the pause in domestic play.


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