Arsenal Football Club is rich in history. They have won 13 Premier League titles and 34 other trophies, making them one of England's most successful clubs. However, after the sacking of their longtime manager Arsene Wenger in the summer of 2018, the club struggled to perform at a high level, finishing outside of the top four in the Premier League for the last six seasons.
Currently, in the 2022-23 season, The Gunners sit in first place with Manchester City two points behind them with five games left to play. Their improved results are due to marquee signings and a controlled, disciplined, fast style of play that has been implemented by Mikel Arteta, the current manager. This resurgence has been a blessing for many Arsenal fans and has inspired a new generation of Arsenal admirers.
Mikel Arteta is a former Arsenal player who played under Arsene Wenger from 2011-2016. He has since retired from playing football and has taken up football management. Before signing as head coach of Arsenal in 2019, he joined Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City as an assistant to gain experience and learn from one of the world's best coaches.
Arteta’s three and half years of assistant coaching at Manchester City are crucial to his current managerial success. While watching an Arsenal game, I often see that tactical changes and players' decisions on the pitch resemble the cadence of play when I watch a Manchester City game.
Arsenal attacks quickly, much like their rivals, City, but they also see the importance of possession-based play. They can choose their attacking moments based on cues given to them by the pressing of their opponents. Arteta’s team averages 546.09 passes per match, which lets them get frequent high-percentage chances. The current Arsenal team's quick thinking, smart passing, and patience has allowed them to gain momentum and create a winning atmosphere at the Emirates Stadium once again.
In addition to bringing in a manager that knows the history and philosophy of Arsenal, the club also signed several players that fit the ideology to a tee. The standout player this season for Arsenal is Martin Ødegaard. His ability to get out of tight spaces and his elegant passing have helped Arsenal's midfield become a force to be reckoned with. When on the ball, Arsenal attacks ferociously with momentum and high numbers of players getting into the final third of the pitch.
This is a philosophy that Arteta has instilled in his players so that when they are attacking, they create numerical advantages all over key areas of the pitch. This allows them to find open spaces more frequently and exploit gaps in their opponent’s defense.
They have scored 78 goals so far this season and have the addition of Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City to thank. He has improved Arsenal's attacking force from last season immensely. Jesus's pace and runs behind the backline of opposing teams have torn apart the defenses of Premier League clubs.
Another player worth mentioning that has been an important part of Arsenal's winning squad this year is Bukayo Saka. The English international has a total of 24 goal contributions this season. Saka's direct play encourages Arsenal to attack fast and capitalize on any counter-attacks they get from winning the ball in their defensive third. Arteta's team has several other attacking options off the bench. This squad depth is crucial to keeping his players fresh and ready to perform at their best when they are called upon.
Defensively, Arsenal has been solid this season and have only conceded 38 goals. The center-back partnership of Gabriel Magalhães and William Saliba has been ideal for The Gunners. They act as a strong, assertive, fast, and technical backline that are aggressive in the air and calm on the ball when playing out from the back. Arteta’s system involves inverting the outside backs, which creates an overload in the midfield, allowing space for the center backs to advance the ball forward. The quick reflexes of goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale have helped to bail out Arteta’s team whenever they get caught too far forward up the pitch or leave gaps for opponents to get shots on goal.
Arsenal is once again playing a team-based, tiki-taka style of football that encourages creativity. Arteta has carefully nurtured a positive and high-tempo winning environment at the club. The mentality at Arsenal has completely shifted and although Manchester City is currently in control of the title race with two games in hand, there is still some hope that Arteta can win this Premier League season and bring The Gunners back to their glory days. Victoria Concordia Crescit (Victory Through Harmony).
Aidan Hyde is a sports reporter for the Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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