Arsenal have “manager on pitch” and “Rolls Royce” as Mikel Arteta plan takes shape

Arsenal have “manager on pitch” and “Rolls Royce” as Mikel Arteta plan takes shape

Mikel Arteta’s team have won their first three games of the season, after losing three on the trot last term, with praise pouring in for the London side after their victory

Arsenal’s perfect start to the season continued against Bournemouth on Saturday, and Mikel Arteta’s team came in for plenty of praise.

Two goals inside the first 15 minutes from Martin Odegaard helped settle any nerves the visitors might have had. The club captain showed quick reactions for both of his finishes, even if he took the ball off the toes of teammate Gabriel Jesus for the second.

William Saliba made the points safe, delivering a wonderful left-footed finish to give Cherries goalkeeper Mark Travers no chance. And, after the game, both goalscorers had clearly left their mark on pundit Jamie Redknapp.

When Arteta took over in north London, the Arsenal team looked very different to how it does today. Just one of the starting XI at the Vitality Stadium was also a starter for the manager’s first victory in charge of the club, back in January 2020, and that player – Granit Xhaka – could easily have ended up leaving himself.

A lot has been made of the impact of Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko after the pair arrived from Manchester City over the summer. However, Arteta’s plan owes just as much to two men who have taken very different paths to where they are now.

Odegaard’s initial arrival was only on loan, and there was no guarantee of a permanent move following. However, since Arsenal paid Real Madrid what it took to clinch a deal, he has grown into one of the most important figures on the pitch.

Redknapp reiterated comments he made back in May about Odegaard as he branded him like “a manager on the pitch” during Sky Sports coverage. The Norway captain was one of a number of candidates to replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as Arsenal’s skipper, and has done plenty to justify the faith of Arteta. It left Redknapp impressed – and not for the first time.

“You can see from Mikel Arteta’s point of view, he’s almost his manager on the pitch,” Redknapp said after Arsenal beat West Ham United towards the end of last season. “It might be one where, he’s there for the future, he’s a fantastic player, good type of guy as well. It’s a masterstroke from Arteta.”

Saliba’s rise has been a little slower, with the French defender sent out on loan more than once since joining Arsenal from Saint-Etienne. However, after being told by Arteta he was very much part of his plan this season despite interest from Marseille, the centre-back has looked at home in the Premier League.

“It’s been a long time I’ve waited for this moment,” Saliba said after making his Premier League debut in a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace. “I’m so happy to start my first game with a win and a clean sheet.

“It’s never easy, you have to give your maximum and it was good. It’s the first game, it’s important to win for the confidence and to start the season well.”

Redknapp clearly liked what he saw on the south coast as well, stating on Sky Sports that Saliba “looks like a Rolls-Royce” and praising the Gunners’ defensive strength. Arteta’s team have kept two clean sheets in their first three games, and have not trailed at any point during the season so far.

“It’s still early in his career, you don’t want to get too high on yourself, but I think going away, learning the game in France and then coming back to Arsenal where he looks like a man now,” the former Liverpool midfielder continued. “I think that has given him so much strength, he’s getting confidence, he’s got that aura about him, and defensively they look so much better...TAP.TO.READ MORE.

While it’s still early in the season, and Arsenal are yet to play any of their rivals for Champions League football, they have already picked up points from situations where they might have struggled last season. And they’ve done it all while taking the form of what is unquestionably a Mikel Arteta team.

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