Mikel Arteta has only been Arsenal manager for 11 months.
In the reactionary, knee-jerk nature of football, one day you can be the saviour of all mankind and the next a ‘fraud’ who is ‘no better than Unai Emery’. The latter of those was sadly flung about in the aftermath of the Leicester loss. Arsenal fans, like all, can be a fickle bunch.
Even from former Tottenham players.
"“Look at [Mikel] Arteta at Arsenal, too. He’s a better coach than Pochettino as well. He’s not even been a manager for a year and look at what he’s done there.“He’s identified the players he’s got there and knows definitely they weren’t great defensively. He’s changed that all completely around.“He’s gone in there and won an FA Cup and a Community Shield, while beating some of the biggest teams out there. He’s managed to find a way of winning things.”"
This came from Darren Bent on talkSPORT, former Spurs and Premier League star who, having been an Arsenal fan his whole life, may just be attempting to claw back some credibility from those who aren’t particularly fond of him for his time over ‘there’.
Nevertheless, it’s key to note the fact he’s called Arteta ‘a better coach’. While Bent’s opinion hardly has too much standing in regards to legitimate managerial insight, it does highlight the growing acceptance of how Arteta is perceived from those outside the club just 11 months into his first top job.
Lauding his man-management, sternness and his philosophy thus far, it’s the coaching elements that become apparent each time Arsenal take to the pitch. Whether you’re intertwined in the club emotionally or simply a casual onlooker, it doesn’t go unnoticed how well-drilled the 11 players that take to the pitch are.
They’re programmed differently to how they were one year ago. At first glance they appear no different, but it takes mere seconds after kick-off to see the shift in mentality. Embedded into their roles, astute tactically and prepared enough to handle whatever situations the match may cough up, it’s chalk and cheese.
Is Arteta a better coach than Pochettino? He infamously won diddly squat at Spurs (they all do, in fairness) and his tenure fizzled out dramatically, but such comparisons are best avoided entirely. As mentioned, lose to Molde and Aston Villa and suddenly Arteta will have ‘come unstuck’ and be ‘in over his head’.
Losses will come, of course, but when Arsenal do falter it can rarely be pinned on inadequate coaching. He’s got the likes of Rob Holding, Mohamed Elneny and Hector Bellerin playing their best ever football. That is good coaching.
Granted, tactically he will make mistakes and perhaps with substitutions too, but he’s got to the point in this short reign where his coaching acumen can’t be disputed.