It was their former captain Mikel Arteta Arsenal turned to when they sought a new manager to revive their season in December 2019, following the departure of Unai Emery. The one-time midfielder was given the task of leading one of the world’s leading clubs in his first managerial position, and in many ways was fortunate that he was not appointed when he was first considered in the summer of 2018, when Arsène Wenger, the most successful manager in Arsenal’s fine history, had left after almost 22 years.
Although the Spaniard remains inexperienced and inherited an Arsenal squad that required rejuvenating, he spent five years working under one of the best managers of the modern era in Wenger, who succeeded in north London having been appointed in similar circumstances. He also spent more than three years as a coach under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, whose first senior managerial position – at Barcelona – was a remarkable success.
Arteta is familiar with such unenviable circumstances. When, as a player, he arrived at Arsenal from Everton in 2011, he did so shortly before the summer transfer window closed and after the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, but he swiftly settled and surpassed expectations. “There is a lot of work to be done but I am confident we’ll do it,” he said upon his appointment as manager. “I’m realistic enough to know it won’t happen overnight, but the squad has plenty of talent and there is a great pipeline of young players coming through from the academy.”