Arsene Wenger rates Mikel Arteta’s start to his Arsenal managerial career

Arsene Wenger coaches Mikel Arteta for five years at Arsenal
Arsene Wenger coaches Mikel Arteta for five years at Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

Arsene Wenger has been impressed at the way in which Mikel Arteta has stamped his authority on an Arsenal side which looked rudderless before his appointment last December.

Arteta’s predecessor Unai Emery attempted to explain his downfall by claiming he inherited a club that had been on a ‘downward slope’ for two years prior to his appointment, an assertion Wenger took an extremely dim view of when questioned about the current Villarreal head coach’s assessment.

‘In 2017 we made 75 points and won the FA Cup so you cannot say that [Arsenal were in decline] and the year before [2016] we finished second in the league,’ Wenger said at the Laureus World Sports Awards earlier this year.

‘Arsenal is a club that is in a very strong position financially. It has good players, after that when you are a manager you have to stand up for what you do and your result and not look around you.’

Undeniably, however, Arteta took over a club in crisis. The Gunners were languishing below mid-table when he arrived and the squad was fractured, unbalanced and lacking in quality.

But the 38-year-old, who spent five years as a player under Wenger before hanging up his boots to go and work as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City, has worked wonders to restore Arsenal’s identity as well as creating a sense of positivity and momentum that convinced captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to sign a new contract last month.

Arteta has already added the FA Cup and the Community Shield to Arsenal’s trophy cabinet and Wenger has been impressed by the start his former charge has made to life in the dugout he occupied for so long, but hopes to see an improvement in the club’s Premier League form after they finished in a lowly eighth position last season.

‘[Arteta]got the grip back on the team. They finished well, though they had a bad Premier League. Fifty-six points!’ Wenger noted in an interview with The Times.

Arteta has clearly learned much from his time as Guardiola’s assistant as the pair combined to help City dominate the Premier League for two seasons, before he returned to north London.

Guardiola was once mentioned as a possible replacement for Wenger at the Emirates before he opted to join Bayern Munich.

It wasn’t the only near miss for the former Bracelona boss and Arsenal, with Wenger revealing Guardiola once visited him at his house asking if he could sign for the club as a player.

‘When Guardiola was still a player, he came to my home to ask to play for Arsenal,” Wenger said. ‘At the time I had [Patrick] Vieira. I had Gilberto Silva. I couldn’t take him.’

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