Sportsmail Columnist Mika Richards spoke out about Arsenal and President Mikel Arteta in his last column
I have a picture in my mind of Arsenal. It comes from February 2003 and the game they played against Manchester City on Maine Road.
Even though I grew up in Leeds, Arsenal was my team when I was a kid so I didn’t miss any opportunity to see them live. This particular Saturday, 17 years ago, I was playing at City Academy in the morning and then headed to the old stadium.
The reason the memory is so vivid is the football I saw that day. It was one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen, one that made me feel in awe. Arsene Wenger’s side led 4-0 within 19 minutes and ended up winning 5-1.
My view on football at the time was simple: Manchester United had the best and most successful players. Liverpool was a club of heart and soul but Arsenal played the greatest football. Arsenal had a style, everyone wanted to be like Arsenal.
But this time last year, Arsenal became a joke. The team was drifting, it was too much for Unai Emery and it was probably exacerbated by the backlash and hysteria that appeared on Arsenal Fan TV.
Many fans from other clubs rubbed their hands after each bad result, so they could log in and watch the screams and screams as some Arsenal fans began turning on their players. It’s been nearly 12 months since the day, remember, since parts of Emirates Stadium booed their captain Granit Chaka.
I thought Arsenal would be a long way back, but it proved to be just something else. Nobody is laughing at Arsenal right now, which is why it is thanks to Mikel Arteta. The start to his coaching career was great – and not just because he won two awards.
Mikel Arteta proves himself a brilliant, no-nonsense coach after starting Arsenal flying
Arsenal is a different strength this season and no one will underestimate it anymore
Arteta’s loss was a big blow for City. I got a glimpse of the way he’s working last year, when I was on the training ground doing some ambassadorial work. Arteta was attending this special session and was amazed by the way he dictated what he wanted from the players – and how they responded.
Each of them was listening intently. I don’t know if it was because the group was experienced or because they had so much respect for having Mikel around, but the parts of the session I watched were pretty good. People have only told me positive things about him.
He took everything cool from Pep Guardiola and then put his own twist on things. He instilled discipline and made it clear that there would be no absurdity – just look at the way he dealt with issues like Mesut Ozil and Matteo Jendouzi.
Arteta enjoyed a great start to his management career with two titles
He instilled discipline in the Arsenal team – as evidenced by the way he dealt with Mesut Ozil
Ozil is not playing for Arsenal because he is not going to press the way Arteta wants. If the matter had anything to do with ability, Ozil would be a participant in it. If the player has flair and is ready for action, then you will always find a place for him.
What I love about the way Arteta handled Ozil is that he didn’t allow one part of the feud to creep onto the sports pages.
We don’t know if they are stuck in a dispute or if there is a disagreement because the manager handles everything clinically. It is a real skill. It’s easy for news of divisions to leave the training ground, but Arteta has taken care of it with great experience.
Arteta will not bear any messes and it is no coincidence that Guendouzi was sent on loan to Hertha Berlin, having not kicked the ball since a match in Brighton in June.
Matteo Guindozzi was also frozen in June with Arteta refusing to stand due to his poor position
The Arsenal coach has not allowed any potential feud with Ozil to sneak the sports pages
Guendouzi participated in an altercation with Neal Maupay and was said to have asked Brighton players how much they earned. Whatever happened, Arteta did not stand up and sent him on his way. It is a firm and decisive act that shows who is responsible. There is nothing soft in Arteta.
But what I think is important to point out is the fact that this is just the beginning. Arsenal are having a good moment, but let’s be honest – they didn’t raise a team stranded at the bottom of the table and took them to unprecedented heights.
This is Arsenal and Arteta entered the club that had one of the best forwards in the world, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, the winger who is worth 72 million pounds in Nicolas Pepe; He signed with Willian and has an amazing talent for Eddie Nikitia’s appearance.
When you add that they just signed with Thomas Parti – what an incredible job to prove, as the Ghanaian was great for Atletico Madrid – Arteta has a lot of quality to choose from. Arsenal, really, should be looking at the top four.
Arteta inherits one of the best forwards in the world, the brilliant Pierre Emerick Aubameyang.
Thomas Partey might prove to be an incredible feat after joining from Atlético de Madrid
Arsenal’s defense still bothers me (is Gabriel the right standard?) But they are clearly heading in the right direction.
They are far from the peaks brought by Wenger but the picture is getting better.
And most importantly, no one laughs at them anymore.
Man of the week in Micah
The international break was a good one for Kai Havertz, who scored for Germany against Switzerland. Timo Werner also scored in that match and the match could have positive effects on Chelsea.
Havertz seemed completely out of reach in his first matches in England, but after a hat-trick in the Carabao Cup I had the impression that things were starting to change for him.
It is under scrutiny for the size of the £ 89m transfer fee, but I can see Havertz making great strides in the coming weeks.
Kai Havertz can make strides in the coming weeks after appearing outside the Chelsea squad
Why Trent Should Play Every Match
When Dani Alves was at his peak, would Brazil abandon him?
I request it after the last England game. We now have Trent Alexander-Arnold, the best right-back in the world, but for some reason he hasn’t played as well as he should. I’m not going to rule anything out from Reese James, who was super good against Denmark, but I can’t tell what’s going on with Trent.
Elvis was so good, he’s been there the whole time for Brazil. Why isn’t this the case for Trent with England? I feel overwhelmed after these games because the system Gareth Southgate wants to follow doesn’t seem to suit anyone.
It’s weird that Trent Alexander-Arnold, the best right-back in the world, does not play regularly for England
The system recently picked by Gareth Southgate doesn’t seem to fit anyone on his team
How was Harry Maguire playing on the left side of a three-man defense when he didn’t play that role for Manchester United? Why was Joe Gomez, the best soccer defender, in the stands? What went wrong with Jack Grealish for not getting more minutes after the Wales match?
It’s almost as if it’s one rule for some players on the team and a rule for others. Take Jordan Pickford – his form is weak but he plays all the time. Marcus Rashford isn’t at his best but he’s started, whatever happens.
Imagine how Danny Achieve felt when he didn’t get a fair crack when starting out. I don’t envy Gareth Southgate at a difficult time being an international manager.
I respect him very much, but as I see things, the team balance is not there at the moment. Would this balance be there if he didn’t pick his best players?