Mikel Arteta’s prediction from last Match on his Arsenal project going ‘bang’ is beginning to come true
Mikel Arteta’s prediction from last year on his Arsenal project is beginning to come true.
The Gunners have endured a rollercoaster time since the Spaniard succeeded Unai Emery back in December 2019, clinching a record 14th FA Cup trophy but also faltering domestically by finishing eighth in back-to-back Premier League campaigns.
His side had improved marginally defensively but were struggling to create chances, particularly in central areas, often relying on left-sided overloads to unlock opposition defences.
Despite struggling for consistency, the Spaniard was always adamant that things would turn around quickly, backing his project to go ‘bang’ under his stewardship.
Speaking in March of last year, he said: “It’s been really challenging having the first job to do that (manage through the Covid-19 pandemic).
“And after that having only been in the job for just three months in normal conditions to start to have a completely different context and framework to work in has been really challenging.
“At the same time, it’s made us as a club, much stronger. We have created a really strong group, a really strong bond with our players, with our fans, with our staff. That’s going to make a big difference.
“I think in the future when everything comes to normality and we’re able to work the way that’s needed to work with some stability, I think this project is going to go bang. This is where we are but sometimes it’s difficult to see those moments now. I’m sure of what we’re doing.”
Now, Arsenal have begun to fulfil his prediction, winning seven of their last nine Premier League outings, including recent wins over Bruno Lage’s Wolves – where they deployed a 4-3-3 system instead of their previously favoured 4-2-3-1 setup.
It is not just the points on the board that have been impressive in recent times, it is also their underlying numbers that have been extremely promising.
In fact, the Gunners have recorded a higher xG (expected goals) than their opponents in eight of their last nine league matches, with the 2-1 loss to Manchester City the only exception, as per Understat.
That means they have the best fourth-highest xPTS (expected points) per game (1.7) in the English top-flight, proving that they deserve a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League if they continue the run of form that they are currently on.
The north Londoners’ next match takes place on Sunday as they travel to Vicarage Road, where they will take on Roy Hodgson’s Watford.
The Hornets held Manchester United to a 0-0 draw last week, with the Red Devils spurning a number of top-quality chances to strengthen Arteta’s side in their quest to finish in the top four.