Arsenal

How Mikel Arteta got Arsenal to Man City and Liverpool levels with one shock transfer decision

The Arsenal manager made an emboldened move in the January transfer window with the Gunners hopeful of securing European qualification

Arsenal are on an upward trajectory under manager Mikel Arteta right now.

The Gunners are sixth in the Premier League table, below Manchester United and West Ham, but are just two points behind United who sit in fourth spot.

More importantly, they have three games in hand over both teams which provides them with a huge opportunity to qualify for Europe this season.

The January transfer window saw the departure of former captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who joined Barcelona after being exiled from the Arsenal team.

Aubameyang failed to score in his final six games for the Gunners before being cast aside after what was labelled as his “latest disciplinary breach” in December.

Since arriving at the La Liga giants, Aubameyang has found the net five time in his last three games, prompting many to suggest that the move has breathed a new lease of life into his game.

Interestingly, the graphs below show the difference in xG and XGA for the whole Premier League season so far, compared to the last 10 weeks.

While it’s important to take into account the level of opponent in Arsenal’s past seven games, it’s also clear that the departure of Aubameyang gave the Gunners a much-needed boost.

football.london understands that Aubameyang was training separately for most of his final weeks at the club, which could have been an unwelcome distraction for his teammates at the time.

“I saw him at Arsenal for a number of months where he just didn’t look happy,” said BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand.

“People undervalue and underestimate how important your happiness is when you’re a footballer or any job that you’ve got to have that element of happiness and fulfilment and he just wasn’t having that at Arsenal.

“Both have benefited from him leaving. Arteta has got even more of a stranglehold on the squad, more respect, they know where they stand now, there’s a line that they don’t go beyond, we don’t know the details of that.”

“Nobody has doubted the rate at which he’s [Aubameyang] always scored goals in his career.

“There’s obviously something that’s gone on behind the scenes where Mikel Arteta has said ‘I’m not having that you’re going to have to go’.

“It’s worked out for each other. If Arsenal finish fourth Arteta is totally justified in what he’s done.”