Mikel Arteta and Arsenal are flying at the moment. The Gunners were written off after about a month into the season given their poor start but Arsenal fans can finally start to believe that European football will be returning to the Emirates Stadium in the near future.
Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka’s silky, clever link up plays have been the highlight of recent Arsenal wins, with both players being the main protagonists in the team’s form of late that has seen them lose only two Premier League games since December.
After a disastrous start to the campaign, Arsenal fans would have been bracing themselves for another embarrassing season. With former club captain and top goal scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being stripped of the armband and then sold to Barcelona mid-way through the season, it was a struggle to envision where Arsenal’s goal threat would come from, especially since the Gabonese international had accounted for roughly 30% of Arsenal’s Premier League goals since his debut in 2018.
Since the turbulent start to the season, young prodigy Bukayo Saka has stepped up to the plate, with the 19-year-old contributing 13 goal involvements (goals + assists) so far this campaign and teaming up well with fellow midfielder Martin Odegaard, Arsenal’s £30 million summer signing.
The Norwegian international has been a revelation in the middle of the field, continuing the line of gifted playmakers to have graced the red and white jersey over the last two decades. Odegaard has been the key to unlocking the opposition’s defense for Arsenal, leading manager Arteta with nothing but high praises for the young playmaker.
“I think he’s come a long way since his arrival, he’s showing great maturity and responsibility on the pitch and he makes the other players better I think,” Arteta said after his team’s recent win against Leicester.
It’s not only been those two, but the collective effort from the team has been noticeable and is a stark difference from the individualistic environment that plagued the Arsenal dressing room most of last season, which resulted in them scoring a disappointing 8th place finish.
The hallmark of Arsenal teams since legendary coach Arsene Wenger took the reins in the late 90’s has been synonymous with fluid link up plays in the final third, resulting in fantastic team goals that would mesmerize the modern football lover. Recently, after being missing for a few seasons, the club’s identity has seemingly returned and they have already conjured up some goal of the season contenders, some excellent team goals included, which is a testament to the improved chemistry within the squad.
After languishing in the bottom half of the table for the first few months of the season and being jokingly (or not) touted for relegation, Mikel Arteta has made some very brave calls and has stuck with his game plan. The gaffer has stuck to his guns and the club has seen the dividends. Arsenal now lie in 4th place, eight points behind Chelsea who are in third and one point above Manchester United who are in fifth.
The transformation of their roller coaster season should be unanimously applauded if they manage to hold on to that Champions League spot at the end of the season.