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A long way to go for Arteta’s Arsenal


In fairness, Arsenal’s game against Everton was in fact Freddie Ljungberg’s last game as Arsenal head coach, rather than Mikel Arteta’s first. Arteta sat in the stands watching on and surely was disappointed at the single point from an Everton who were there to be beaten. However, the performance was not all gloom and doom.

The match showed signs of a base to work from for Arteta. If it was the want to impress, knowing their new boss was watching on, or the want to give Freddie a deserved send off, the Arsenal players showed signs of desire and fight. Recent performances from Arsenal have been criticised due to the lack of hunger from the players. In particular, the Man City game in which Arsenal allowed City to stroll across the pitch unchallenged, before picking a few passes to cut through Arsenal’s backline. Against Everton though, this was far from the case. The Arsenal players pressed constantly throughout the game, not allowing Everton much time on the ball, forcing constant mistakes.

As well as this, the defence was solid in general. Arsenal didn’t allow a single shot on target all game. Bernd Leno, the busiest goalkeeper in the league this season, would’ve enjoyed a much-deserved rest.

In his first few days at the club, Arteta has put a lot of emphasis on the culture surrounding the players and the club in general. Playing for Arsenal is a privilege, and Arteta wants the players to know they have to fight to wear that badge. One moment that really would’ve pleased him in that respect is one that also likely won Arsenal a point. The tricky Richarlison escaped down the left and managed to squeeze the ball between two Arsenal players before laying it off towards Dominic Calvert-Lewin inside the box. Immediately Calum Chambers (who was fantastic on the day) and Lucas Torreira threw themselves at the ball, blocking what would’ve been a certain goal. This will be exactly what Arteta will have hoped to see from his team.

Arsenal could’ve had the game themselves also. In a game where both teams lacked much attacking presence at all, two key chances fell to Arsenal with which they probably should’ve taken the three points back to North London. The first in the first half fell to the young Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli. Played through by Torreira, Martinelli failed to really get a hold of the strike and it was fired wide of Jordan Pickford’s near post.

The other fell to Arsenal’s top scorer, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. A flicked-on corner was met at the back post by the striker but again he failed to connect properly and the shot was saved well by Pickford.

All in all, the match on Merseyside would’ve given Arteta a lot to think about when he takes his new players into their training sessions before the trip down south to Bournemouth on Boxing day. One thing is for certain, however.  Arsenal are not in a position of no return, and although a lot of work needs to be done, Arteta can certainly bring this club some joy in the new year should he get the best out of his players.

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