Keane’s U-turn on Arsenal’s “softness” shines light on Arteta impact

Arsenal’s continued resurgence under Mikel Arteta has seen them strengthen their bid for a top four Premier League finish and force Roy Keane into an unlikely U-turn

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Arsenal strengthened their grip on a top four Premier League finish on Sunday as Mikel Arteta‘s side once again forced their critics to eat their own words.

Goals from Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli were enough to see the Gunners claim a 3-2 triumph over Watford, made nervier than it should have been due to Moussa Sissoko‘s late response.

The Vicarage Road success was the latest instalment in Arsenal’s resurgence under Arteta which has seen them climb from rock bottom after three games to the cusp of a Champions League return.

It’s been a remarkable rise for a team who had been written off on numerous occasions throughout this season – by Roy Keane more than most.

Roy Keane made a U-turn over his previous claims that Arsenal are a “soft” team

On countless occasions, the Gunners have been labelled “soft” by the former Manchester United hardman, but their resilient run of late has forced the Irishman into an unprecedented U-turn.

“It’s been an amazing turnaround considering where they were at the start of the season,” Keane admitted prior to Arsenal’s clash with Watford on Sunday.

“Now they’re probably favourites to finish in the top four.

“We’ve always questioned whether there’s a bit of softness to them, but they’re in a good moment and they’ve always had that quality.

“Against Wolves they found a way to win the football match, they kept going and grabbed a late goal. That’s the key to success.

“You can have your off days, but you find a way to win and it was a huge three points for them.”

Three more precious points were earned at Vicarage Road hours after Keane’s admission, further underlining the impact Arteta has made.

Only two months ago, Keane questioned whether Arsenal had enough to secure a fourth-placed finish.

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Arsenal’s resurgence under Mikel Arteta continued at Watford as the Gunners claimed a fourth successive Premier League win


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“After the start they had, yeah, they deserve credit for turning it around. They’ve got some fantastic young players at Arsenal,” the former united captain stated in January.

“The question now is can they really push on and make that top four? I’m not so sure.

“I still think they’re a bit soft at times. Especially against the bigger teams.”

However, with the Gunners having since ground out four successive Premier League victories, Keane’s latest remarks emphasise the stunning job Arteta has done at the Emirates.

Arsenal strengthened their grip on a top four Premier League finish with victory on Sunday


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All four triumphs – two against Wolves, one over Brentford and Sunday’s success over Watford – were each by one goal, but further highlight the change in mindset Arteta has instilled.

Arsenal have needlessly dropped points in similar fixtures to lesser opposition over recent seasons, but their dogged determination to get themselves over the line has been a notable improvement this campaign.

While their form against the Premier League’s big-hitters still leaves plenty to be desired, their ability to beat sides below them has been a catalyst in their charge for a top four finish.

So impressive a job has Arteta done that he’s even forced Keane to backtrack. That’s testament in itself.

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