By Tony Attwood
- How Arteta built the new Arsenal and took us to the top of the league Part 1.
- Arteta’s revolution: How the media missed Arsenal’s change after Xmas Day 2020. Part 2
- How Arteta revolutionised Arsenal: Part 3 – the summer of 2021
The one thing that is remembered about 2021/22, because of the phenomenal amount of publicity it got, was the first three league games which were lost, as Arsenal were beset with illness but were unable to get any postponement agreement from the league – although later Liverpool were able to postpone matches due to covid only then to find that there was no covid. Their manager described the covid test results as false positives – something never seen before or since on such a scale.
That Arsenal recovered during that season is obvious because the club rose from 20th to 5th. But what was primarily recorded by the media was a) the first three games and b) the failure to come fourth. What wasn’t noted was just how improved Arsenal were in the last 35 games of the season.
Yet just as with 2020/21 in which the table can be seen as a season of two parts (the first third and the last two thirds, Arsenal really did improve…
|8||Arsenal all season||38||18||7||13||55||39||16||61||47%|
|15||Arsenal first third of the season||14||4||2||8||12||18||-6||14||29%|
|2||Arsenal last 2/3rds of the season||24||14||5||5||43||21||22||47||58%|
So the 2021/2 season can be seen as a season of two parts
Part one was the opening three games
Part two was the remaining 35 games
Now anyone who was not biased, looking at that table, would surely place far more emphasis on the last 35 games than the first three games, but no one published the 35 game table except Untold. As a result every pundit that I could find suggested that the top four for 2022/23 would be the same as the top four for 2021/2. Arsenal at best would be fifth.
Even when the transfers inward of the summer of 2022 were seen, still the predictions didn’t change as Arsenal brought in Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Fabio Vieira, Matt Turner, and Marquinhos.
But more than that Arsenal brought back William Saliba after three seasons on loan with St Etienne, Nice and Marseille during which he clocked up 68 first team games.
Before the Nice loan Saliba did spend half the season training with Arsenal, which led to the Mail’s headline “Six months and out!” And then “Arsenal flop William Saliba in nightmare” appeared in the Sun in typical raging, inaccurate anti-Arsenal style.
But then having been named a perpetual hopeless flop by the media, suddenly the tune was changed and it was Arteta who was the perpetual hopeless flop. For as 90min wrote
“As a makeshift Arsenal back line shambled its way to a 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Saturday, you could forgive Mikel Arteta for wondering how things might be going had William Saliba been given a crack at the whip…
“Meanwhile in the south of France, Arsenal’s £27m signing is starring for Nice in Ligue 1 to such an extent he has just been named their player of the month for January.”
Nice ended up ninth in the league, and there was some consternation when Saliba was loaned out once more to Marseille. But it was a brilliant loan spell as Marseille came runners up – which in the French league actually means first, because PSG automatically win because Nasser Al-Khelaifi is in charge. He also is a central figure in Uefa, organised the fight against Super League (because PSG were not invited) and owns the beIN Sport TV channel.
So now we had Jesus, Zinchenko, Vieira, Turner, Marquinhos and Saliba, and Arsenal shot to the top of the league winning the first five matches.
But even then after defeat in match six, with Arsenal still top of the league, the media were heralding the bursting of Arsenal’s bubble. There was crowing about how Manchester United had previously ended Arsenal’s 49 match unbeaten run, and a collapse was now heralded.
However, something quite different happened. Arsenal won their next four games scoring 10 goals. A draw with Southampton again raised talk of Arsenal being in difficulties, but once more the club responded with three straight wins.
My point overall, therefore, is simple. The Arteta revolution has been carefully planned and not rushed. He joined in December 2019 as “head coach” but clearly from the start had a vision of how things could develop with changes made step by step, taking us now to the position we are in during the interregnum.
And he has become Arsenal’s most successful manager in terms of win percentage – excluding the managers who have only been in charge on a temporary basis. Here for the record is the position at the top of the Arsenal managerial league for permanent managers.
|Harry Bradshaw||30 June 1899||30 April 1904||235||118||44||73||403||237||50.21|
|Thomas Mitchell||30 March 1897||10 March 1898||45||23||8||14||106||79||51.11|
|Unai Emery||23 May 2018||29 November 2019||78||43||16||19||152||100||55.13|
|Arsène Wenger||1 Oct 1996||13 May 2018||1,235||707||280||248||2,156||1,147||57.25|
|Mikel Arteta||22 Dec 2019||Present||152||88||23||41||268||161||57.89|
And just think what would have happened if all those raving journalists and bloggers had had their way and got him out after we came 8th in 2020/21.
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying
- Where there is power, money and greed there is corruption
- Why do Tottenham players get fouled more than those of any other club?
- The media, the League and PGMO. An insidious agreement rears its ugly head