Mikel Arteta explained that beating Manchester United was such a ‘big release’ it took Arsenal until the second half to get going against Leeds because some players thought they could relax.
Arsenal looked more Emery than Arteta for the first 45 minutes against an impressive and relentless Leeds side that they had been warned about.
It didn’t seem possible that Arteta could make the changes necessary at half-time to get the players operating at a different level yet, somehow, he managed to do just that when we’ve seen more experienced managers fail to motivate this team regularly over the last few years.
Asked after the game if the first half performance surprised him, Arteta said, “To be fair, it didn’t. I think it was a big release for them when they won against Manchester United and they took a little bit of that pressure off.
“And then your body and your mind tries to relax a little bit for one or two days. Now, we are not in a position to relax because we are not good enough to relax. If we don’t play at that level, we are not good enough.
“The biggest change was how we approached the second half, the mentality, how aggressive we are, how intense we are. We started to win every duel, every 50:50, we were playing in the opponent’s half and making passes forward and runs forward and being positive on the ball. It was different.”
Yes Miki, it was different. Not at all what we’ve become used to watching from Arsenal and something we are all starting to fall in love with already.