- How Arsenal are evolving a new set of tactics to overtake Man City
- What will the first three matches of the new season tell us about Arsenal?
By Tony Attwood
There are, of course, 20 Premier League managers. The oldest is David Moyes born in 1963. The youngest is Vincent Kimpany born in 1986. Mikel Arteta is the fourth youngest born in 1982.
As for their nationality, five are from Spain, including of course Arsenal’s manager, four are English, two are Welsh and there is one each from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Itlay, Netherlands, Portugal and Scotland.
Klopp and Guardiola have each completed over seven years in their clubs, Frank at Brenford four years and Arteta in fourth place is on 3 years 204 days as I write and that latter point is quite amazing. Most managers don’t last long, even though sacking a manager mostly ends in disaster.
Of the Premier League teams in the league last season, Crystal Palace has had the most managers (27), followed by Southampton (25), Nottingham Forest (23), Leeds United (22) and Chelsea (21). Of these obviously, Chelsea is the only club to have won anything of note.
Of the current crop of 20 Premier League teams, nine of them have had their manager for under one year, including of course Tottenham Hotpsur (currently on 38 days), beaten only by Bournemouth for whom Iraola has been in charge for 25 days. As iNews pointed out “The average tenure of a Premier League manager is now just over one-and-a-half years, with 48 dismissals across the EFL” last season.
And such figures are of interest to us because of the fanatical desire of the English media to see managers sacked, for the simple reason that this is the cheapest story going. No one has to do any work on it all as for months predictions are made about which manager will go next, and then when he is sacked there are days of stories about why he should have gone sooner and who will come in next. And the cost in terms of research is zero.
Take this headline from 14 June last year (so 13 months and two days ago). It was in the Express. “Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tipped to be first Premier League manager sacked next season”.
Now the Express could argue that the tip was nothing to do with them, as it was put down to coming from Steve Nicol. What Nicol said on ESPN: “I think Mikel Arteta [will be the first manager sacked] because they had a horrible start and everyone wanted him out, slowly they built it up and got themselves into fourth but by the end of the season, Arteta was under pressure.”
So Arteta will go because in the season before Arsenal lost the first three league games, much to the delight of the journalists, but then recovered (much to the dismay of the journalists who want revenge).
Now one year on the stories are quite different as Arteta is praised for being the man who is bringing fluid football to England where each player can move around in different positions within games, and who is aged 25 or younger.
Timber we have been told, can play right back or centre back or indeed midfield, and is 22. Zinchenko has been showing the same capabilities in terms of moving from position to position.
But this approach not only gives Arsenal flexibility within a game, it also gives the opposition a headache before games (they don’t know what they have prepared for) and during games, as it draws the opposition defence out of position.
In fact, as the Telegraph pointed out recently, of the 18 players Arteta has recruited at Arsenal, “at least 10 can be considered truly versatile players capable of playing to a high level in multiple positions.”
Trossard can play in all forward positions and in attacking midfield, Jakub Kiwior can play centre-back, left-back and defensive midfielder, Kai Havertz can play up front or in midfield. Havertz can be a forward and a central midfield player, although perhaps not both at the same time.
Of course what this does mean is that the opposition defence really don’t quite know what is going on as everyone keeps moving around and the opposition forwards have no idea who they are going to face next.
But what is so interesting from a reporting point of view here is that this flexible approach to playing is being discussed in so much depth by journalists, while Arteta’s first dramatic move by cutting the number of yellow cards virtually in half from one season to the next, moving Arsenal from the most yellow carded club to 17th in the card table in just one year was utterly ignored by the same journalists – largely because that called into question what the referees were up to.
Meanwhile all this progress has come alongside the renewal of contracts with the most important players such as Saliba, Saka and Martinelli. To players outside Arsenal, seeing these top men renew so readily says a lot about what those already in the club feel about the club. It makes a lot of other players want to be at Arsenal.
Where once the media reported chaos, now they report calm, except in the opposition’s defence.
- What every football club (and most certainly Arsenal) is aiming for.
- The apparent decline of Tottenham and the question of care for players elsewhere
- Positive injury news for Arsenal ahead Monday’s game with Sheffield United
- Arsenal’s finances stay secure but we can expect more price rises for fans
- How a 14th monk described Arsenal’s failure to buy Moisés Caicedo and Mykhailo Mudryk