Mikel Arteta has been hailed for transforming Arsenal from a “laughing stock” under Unai Emery to genuine top-four contenders by former England defender Micah Richards.
Arteta has been in the Emirates hot seat for 10 months, taking over last December after Unai Emery was sacked with the Gunners eight points off the top four.
The Spaniard led Arsenal to FA Cup glory in his first season and has started this campaign strongly, with three wins from four in the Premier League and progression to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals secured.
For boyhood Gunners fan Richards, the transformation Arteta has brought about has been nothing short of “outstanding”.
He wrote in the Daily Mail: “This time last year… Arsenal had become a laughing stock. The team was drifting, it was all too much for Unai Emery and perhaps it was exacerbated by the reaction and hysteria that appeared on Arsenal Fan TV.
“Many supporters from other clubs rubbed their hands after every bad result, so they could log on and watch the shouting and screaming as some Arsenal fans started to turn on their own players.
“It is nearly 12 months to the day, remember, since parts of the Emirates Stadium booed their captain Granit Xhaka.
“I thought it would be a long way back for Arsenal but it has proven to be anything but. Nobody is laughing at Arsenal now and, for that, the credit belongs to Mikel Arteta.
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“The start he has made to his managerial career is outstanding – and it is not just because he has won two trophies.”
Arteta spent three-and-a-half years as assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City before taking the Arsenal job.
And Richards – who believes Arsenal should be aiming to finish in the top four this season – has been impressed by how Arteta has applied all he learned under Guardiola while also introducing his own style of management.
The former right-back added: “Losing Arteta was a big blow for City. I got a glimpse into the way he works last year, when I was at the training ground doing some ambassadorial work.
How impressive have Arteta’s first 10 months as Arsenal manager been? Have your say here.
“Arteta was taking this particular session and I was struck by the way he was dictating what he wanted from the players – and how they responded.
“Every one of them was listening intently. I don’t know whether it was because the group was experienced or because they had so much respect for Mikel being around them, but the parts of the session I watched were so, so good. People have only ever told me positive things about him.
“He has taken everything great from Pep Guardiola and then put his own twist on things.”
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