Arsenal’s recent 1-0 victory over West Ham United in the Premier League kept them in the running to qualify for Europe again next season.
With the Gunners also through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, the campaign could yet prove to be a relatively successful one for the club.
Regardless of the outcome, it would be fair to say that Mikel Arteta does appear to have improved things since replacing Unai Emery as Arsenal’s manager.
However, as highlighted by their recent exit from the Europa League at the hands of Olympiakos, there is still plenty of work for Arteta to do.
Many of the current squad have repeatedly proven that they are not up to the job and will need replacing as a matter of urgency.
Arteta will already have identified which players he wishes to keep and built some idea of the new faces he wants to bring in.
It will then be down to the Spaniard to impose his ethos on the group of players in order to deliver success to the club. We take a closer at whether Arteta can achieve this.
Arteta ramps up the intensity
A major criticism of Arsenal under Emery was that the players lacked the fitness levels needed to cope with the demands of the Premier League.
Having spent time coaching under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, it comes as no surprise to find that Arteta has sought to address that issue since replacing Emery.
A major feature of Guardiola’s training sessions is the sheer intensity of them and Arteta had plenty of input into the work City’s players put in.
Respected journalist, David Ornstein, told The Athletic podcast that Arteta has been quick to make changes to Arsenal’s training.
“There are some little things you’re hearing that reflect positively on the new regime and there was one player I heard about who was explaining how hard training is,” he said.
“Not just the demands on players that Arteta is putting on them for matches, but training is said to be absolutely exhausting, to the extent that he was due to have somebody come round to his house on a day off and he said to them ‘no I need to lie in today’ – and that was just from training!”
Harder training necessitates better recovery whether it’s reducing your non-training activities, investing in the best mattress to get your sweet sleep on, cleaning up (even more) your diet or just getting mentally stronger.
Football at the top level is a game of fine margins, so if Arteta can get an extra ten percent from his players, that could make all the difference in pushing Arsenal upwards in the league table.
Improving the rising stars
With many of Arsenal’s established players failing to deliver over the past few seasons, some of the club’s youngsters now have a golden opportunity to shine.
The likes of Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah have already shown plenty of promise and should blossom under the new regime.
Arteta has been credited with helping the likes of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane improve massively at City and he will be aiming to repeat the trick with Arsenal’s rising stars.
Developing the club’s youngsters could save Arsenal a fortune in the transfer market and Nelson believes that Arteta possesses the skills to improve him as a player.
“You can see it because Mikel’s drive is different – I haven’t seen a manager with that much determination to make individuals into better players,” he told the Guardian.
“I was doing one thing with one of the players on the training pitch the other day. He came over and he showed me one thing to do and it is that little detail that is incredible.
“I think he has got a plan and it is going really good.”
Time and new blood needed
While Arteta has already started to make a difference at Arsenal it is clear that he needs to be given plenty of time for his methods to work.
The Olympiakos result proved that there are still lots of issues to be addressed before the Gunners re-emerge as genuine contenders for silverware.
Clearing out the deadwood from the squad is a priority this summer, freeing up space and funds for Arteta to bring in some fresh faces.
Rebuilding the defence is hugely important, with RB Leipzig star Dayot Upamecano expected to be a big summer transfer target for the club.
Upamecano could form a formidable partnership with William Saliba next term, giving the Gunners a solid platform to build from.
Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey has also been linked with a move to Arsenal and would undoubtedly be an excellent acquisition.
Although there is a lot of work to be done, Arsenal could be a completely different proposition under Arteta next season.
Arteta and Arsenal – the final word
The early signs have been promising for Arteta at Arsenal, with his tougher training methods clearly helping to spark some improvements.
However, there are plenty of players in the current squad who are simply not good enough and the Spaniard faces a big rebuilding job this summer.