As Arsenal continue to push for a top-four finish in the Premier League this season, manager Mikel Arteta deserves credit for how his side have developed this term.
Overcoming a torrid time at the start of the campaign, with pressure on the clubâ€™s hierarchy to find a replacement, the Spaniard is proving why heâ€™s deserving of such a privileged position in English football.
Getting Through August
It could not have been a worse first month of the Premier League season for Arteta and the Gunners as they suffered three straight defeats without finding the back of the net. Few football tips would have expected the north London outfit to come through their games back in August with nothing to show for their efforts. However, a 2-0 defeat at Premier League newcomers Brentford, followed by a 2-0 loss to Chelsea and a 5-0 hammering against Manchester City left many wondering what the future held for Arteta. Even their following two wins against Norwich City and Burnley were far from convincing, with the Gunners scraping 1-0 victories against the Canaries and Clarets.
A 3-1 win on home soil against old rivals Tottenham will have eased some of the pressure on Arteta but back-to-back draws against Brighton and Crystal Palace meant the heat was back on the former Manchester City assistant coach. There have of course been dips in form at times this season but what has been impressive is Arsenalâ€™s ability to put strings of victories together. The Gunners went on a four-match winning run in December in the league, as well as making it five games unbeaten with a 3-2 win at Watford at the start of March. The sustained runs of form after setbacks shows Artetaâ€™s ability to change things when they go wrong, while also sticking to the overall philosophies that got him in the Arsenal dugout in the first place.
With such a competitive Premier League and around eight teams holding real ambitions to play in the Champions League next season, Arsenal have impressed to put themselves firmly in the mix for a top-four finish. Like all teams, the Gunners have been forced to deal with injuries and perhaps more suspensions than other sides. However, the departure of star striker and former skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the January transfer window could have been a destabilising moment. The Gabon international fell out of favour at the Emirates and Arteta made his position clear that the forward could move on to pastures new.
The Gunners did not bring in a big name replacement for Aubameyang in January, with Arteta trusting in the attacking quality remaining in his squad at the club. There are expected to be some significant incomings and outgoings in the playing squad this summer. If the Gunners can finish the job and secure a return to the Champions League, then Arteta will again have proven heâ€™s the right man to oversee those changes as one of the brightest managers in the English top flight.