Arteta capable of turning Arsenal into title contenders amid Man Utd struggles

I’m guessing Mikel Arteta had a good laugh at the clip Sky put out of Roy Keane in meltdown after Arsenal’s victory at Old Trafford.

Not the bit where he’s incandescent about the lack of motivation among Manchester United’s players yet refuses to assign any blame for that to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, despite it being his 100th game in charge.

It’s the bit where he keeps shooting down any attempt by fellow pundits to praise the decent fist Arteta is making of his first managerial job, despite the Spaniard managing 60 games fewer at Arsenal than Keane’s buddy has at Old Trafford.

“You can’t be building Arsenal up. Arsenal lost to Leicester. Arsenal beat a poor United team 1-0 and all of a sudden, they’re the new Bayern Munich? Do me a favour” he raged, looking like he might need a favour to get his eyes back into his sockets.

Mikel Arteta is leading a revival at Arsenal
Mikel Arteta is leading a revival at Arsenal

The truth about last Sunday was that Arteta out-thought Solskjaer in his selection, tactics, motivation and response to unfolding events.

And Arsenal may not be Bayern Munich, but out of these two sides, it’s Arteta’s who look more likely to be playing the Germans in next year’s Champions League. And giving them a game.

Arsenal’s first win at Old Trafford for 14 years, which ended a dismal 29-game run without a win at a big six opponents’ ground, may have been arrogantly dismissed by Keane but it was significant on a few levels.

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It was a reminder, as a memoir-flogging Arsene Wenger re-writes recent history, that Arsenal have been easy pickings for the top sides for years. And Arteta is doing something about it.

He has defeated Liverpool in three different competitions in the past four months and in the one he hasn’t faced the champions, the FA Cup, he’s beaten Manchester City and Chelsea.

The Gunners' boss celebrates as Solskjaer looks dejected
The Gunners’ boss celebrates as Solskjaer looks dejected

This season, Arsenal have already travelled to Anfield, The Etihad and Old Trafford yet no Premier League side has conceded fewer goals.

That is down to some excellent work in the transfer market and on the training ground.

Arteta has focussed on his team’s defensive weaknesses and addressed them.

Gabriel brings them steel at the back and the protective pairing of previously out-of-favour Mohamed Elneny with the inspired signing Thomas Partey is already drawing comparisons with Patrick Viera and Emmanuel Petit.

Last week Shkodran Mustafi admitted he had never been involved in such clear and detailed training sessions.

That clarity, as well as quality, is beginning to show itself on the pitch.

Arsenal now have a solid base, and with Willian providing guile behind that explosive attack and Bukayo Saka developing into a gem, we’re beginning to see a proper, balanced Arsenal team again.

Contrast that with United. Solskjaer seems to have little tactical flexibility outside of defending deep in numbers and playing on the counter.

That thinking serves him well in Europe but also explains why they haven’t won a league game at home.

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Can either United or Arsenal challenge for the title this season? Have your say below.

United are struggling while Arsenal's future looks bright
United are struggling while Arsenal’s future looks bright


If the away side sits back, or goes for the press as Arsenal did, United struggle to unleash their huge attacking potential. Which may be down to the manager lacking confidence in his defence.

In which case why weren’t they trying to sign the likes of Gabriel instead of wasting the summer on a forlorn pursuit of Jadon Sancho? The lack of joined-up thought and vision at Old Trafford compared to what we’re seeing at Arsenal could not be starker.

Frank Lampard has invested heavily in top class talent at Chelsea and Gareth Bale’s return to Spurs gives optimism that their silverware drought may soon be over.

But this shrewd 38-year-old, who has already won the FA Cup, looks more than capable of turning Arsenal into the next London club to challenge for the title.

Just don’t mention it to Roy Keane.


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