Berliner Tageblatt - Arteta has Arsenal primed for success despite title pain

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Arteta has Arsenal primed for success despite title pain
Arteta has Arsenal primed for success despite title pain / Photo: © AFP

Arteta has Arsenal primed for success despite title pain

As Mikel Arteta surveyed the emotional toll of heart-broken Arsenal's failure to win the Premier League, the Gunners manager could take comfort that the roots of his team's revival should be strong enough to withstand their trauma.

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Arteta's side went into the Sunday's last game of the season still daring to dream of their first English title in 20 years.

But Manchester City's 3-1 win against West Ham meant Arsenal's own 2-1 victory over Everton counted for nothing as Pep Guardiola's team finished two points clear of the second-placed Gunners.

It may take Arsenal a considerable time to get over the disappointment, but when the angst subsides, the future will still look bright for the revitalised north Londoners.

Led by their passionate, tactically astute manager, Arsenal are a team bursting with emerging stars just entering their prime.

Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, Declan Rice, William Saliba, Ben White and Gabriel Martinelli all have their best years ahead of them.

City might appear untouchable after an unprecedented fourth successive English title but, thanks to Arteta's masterful rebuilding work, Arsenal have emerged as their most serious challengers.

Symbolising the faith and hope generated by Arteta in his five-year reign, the Spaniard has planted an olive tree near his office at the club's London Colney training base.

To Arteta, the tree's roots represent the coaches and staff, while the branches and fruit are the players.

"I planted the tree and said, 'This is my gift. Now you have to look after it. It's a living thing. You cannot let it die," Arteta told the BBC recently.

"It's going to be there every single day. You have to look at it and you are all responsible."

For the second consecutive season, Arsenal have been unable to hold off City in the final weeks of the campaign.

Yet even being involved in the title race was an unimaginable proposition for Arsenal when Arteta took charge in December 2019.

Arsenal were directionless and in danger of drifting into irrelevance after Arteta's predecessor Unai Emery failed to lift the club out of the mediocrity that marred the final years of Arsene Wenger's reign.

- 'Unbelievable manager' -

Arteta was left to fix the fractured bond between the under-performing team and their disenfranchised fans.

"The issue was in our roots. It was all a mess," Arteta said.

"We need our people. We need to convince them that you are committed and you are willing to take this club to a very different place."

Winning the FA Cup final against Chelsea in his maiden season as a manger was a feather in Arteta's cap.

But Arsenal finished eighth in the Premier League in 2020 and 2021, the latter ending a 25-year run of qualifying for Europe.

Arteta hoped to build a team on his core values of humility, respect, a willingness to suffer for success and a culture of accountability.

The now 42-year-old would have to overcome internal resistance first.

Arteta became embroiled in a power struggle with Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was eventually stripped of the captaincy and exiled to Barcelona.

Arteta's three years as Guardiola's assistant at City proved an invaluable learning experience, allowing him to persevere during his rocky start.

"We had unbelievable chemistry. It was fascinating to be part of something new," Arteta said of Guardiola.

Gradually, Arteta turned the tide, returning Arsenal to the Champions League for the first time in six years and taking four points from City this season as they pushed the champions all the way to the finish line.

A deep thinker and student of the game, Arteta's intensity has boiled over with emotional touchline outbursts.

But, when some questioned whether that volatility could unsettle the squad, Arsenal's players defended Arteta's passion and played with a vigour reflecting his demanding personality.

"Every day he is pushing us in new ways and is finding different ways to send the message he wants," Odegaard said.

"He's an unbelievable manager and so good at finding those small things you can change."

Arteta is yet to dethrone Guardiola as the king of English football, but it would be no surprise if the relentless student eventually unseats his mentor.

Y.Bouchard--BTB