Saturday’s game against Fulham will be Mikel Arteta’s 100th Premier League game as Arsenal manager and it’s quite interesting to look at the progress that has been made over that time, even if Arteta wasn’t aware of his approaching milestone.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal FC at Vitality Stadium on December 26, 2019 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 26: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal FC at Vitality Stadium on December 26, 2019 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Speaking to the press ahead of the game against Fulham this weekend, Mikel Arteta was not aware that the match would be his 100th in the Premier League.

“I’ve just found out about it – time flies!” he said when told about the milestone that is approaching.

“It is such a privilege to be in this football club and reach that number, and hopefully we can extend that for a long period and bring joy and a lot of wins.”

He was then asked what he had learned so far, saying “How difficult and how beautiful life is when you win or lose! Especially that.

“And then looking back, analysing the journey and how many things that have happened, the way that every decision counts. Consistency is so important and just stick to what you believe in because in the end things will happen.”

“We are human beings, we doubt,” he admitted when asked if he ever doubted himself. “Especially when you lose football matches. When the environment turns around and you don’t find a real way to win matches, even though you deserve to, you have to find other ways to adapt.

“Sometimes you have to do that, but at the end you have to really feel what you do because it’s the best way to transmit it, especially to your players and then to your supporters and everyone around the club, and that’s what we have tried to do at all times.”

For quite some time it really seemed like things weren’t getting better at Arsenal under Mikel Arteta. While the manager talked about the progress being clear to all those who wanted to see it, many Arsenal fans, try as they might, couldn’t.

Then, almost suddenly, as if he had finally found the on switch, things started to come together for Arteta and his team.

Sure, they blew it at the end of last season, but there were few who would have even given us a shot of being in the top four at the start of the season, let alone the ones to have it in our own slippery hands as the season came to a close.

Looking at the lineup Arteta used for his first game in charge and comparing it to the one we are likely to see this weekend at the Emirates, we’ve come a long way.

Arteta’s first game in charge:

Bournemouth 1 Arsenal 1, 26 December, 2019

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Aaron Ramsdale of AFC Bournemouth saves a shot from Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal FC at Vitality Stadium on December 26, 2019 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 26: Aaron Ramsdale of AFC Bournemouth saves a shot from Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal FC at Vitality Stadium on December 26, 2019 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Lineup: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, David Luiz, Saka, Torreira, Xhaka, Nelson, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette.

As you can see from that lineup, only Maitland-Niles, Bukayo Saka and Granit Xhaka remain and Maitland-Niles is highly unlikely to still be at the club when the transfer window shuts.

After that first game, Arsenal were in 11th place on 24 points from 19 games.

We ended the season in 8th on 56.

The following season, disturbed by the pandemic, we again finished 8th but with five extra points on 61.

Last season, of course, we blew the chance to finish in the top four, eventually landing fifth on 69 points.

What’s notable is how Arsenal’s win percentage has slowly increased, along with their points total:

  • 2019/20 14 wins, 36.8%
  • 2020/21 18 wins, 47.4%
  • 2021/22 22 wins, 57.9%

You can also see progress when it comes to actually putting the ball in the net, sort of.

  • 2019/20 56 goals
  • 2020/21 55 goals
  • 2021/22 61 goals

Conceding, however, is another matter:

  • 2019/20 48
  • 2020/21 39
  • 2021/22 48

Arsenal have, of course, won 100% of their first three games this season, scoring nine and conceding two.

While it’s impossible to tell how thing will pan out over the course of the season, we can already see that Arteta has not only got the players looking more competent on the pitch, we can see a change in attitude and application.

For a man in his first senior managerial role, the task that Arteta faced was massive. At times it looked like it was beyond him, but the faith shown by the club looks like it is finally starting to be rewarded.

Mikel Arteta is the 14th Arsenal manager to take charge of 100 league games.

  • George Graham: P100, W38, D33, L29, F111, A82, Pts 147
  • Arsenal Wenger: P100, W54, D30, L16, F156, A70, Pts 192
  • Mikel Arteta: P99, W52, D16, L31, F157, A110, Pts 172
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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.