Mikel Arteta: still yet to discover Arsenal's best team
The arrival of Mikel Arteta at Arsenal has seen the Gunners reverse their dismal fortunes of early in the 2019/20 season. Yet we still wonder whether or not Arteta has discovered who his best starting XI is.
When Arteta took charge of the club, one of the reasons why many Arsenal fans have been so excited is that the club's faithful feel Arsenal may finally rediscover a brand of attacking football that they were so famous for during the Arsene Wenger era.
In recent months, Arsenal have slipped down the Premier League table and poor form would ensure the departure of former coach Unai Emery. Emery famously had a public falling out with the club's star player Mesut Ozil and would strip the captaincy of Granit Xhaka after the player strolled off of the pitch and harassed the club's fans during an important Premier League game.
Since then, Arteta has taken charge and numerous players have been given a new lease of life at the Emirates Stadium. For example, Granit Xhaka, who has been a crucial part of Arteta's direct style of football. Under Emery, Xhaka had been given license to roam but it appears under Arteta, Xhaka has been asked to hold his ground and utilise his famous passing ability.
Another player to have caught the eye is Shkodran Mustafi. The German World Cup winning defender has had no shortage of detractors since his arrival in the Premier League. However, a reason restoration of good form for the centre back means that the defender is now an important member of Arsenal's squad alongside Greek centre-back Sokratis.
Finally, the club's star player Mesut Ozil has also been given an opportunity again in the first team. Under Emery, Ozil had been linked with a move back to Spain, but now the player looks set to extend his stay with the club until at least 2021 when his contract expires.
Then we look at some of Arsenal's recent new signings. Nicolas Pepe, who undoubtedly has an abundance of talent, has been given opportunities in recent weeks but has yet to have shown the consistent form that the Ivorian displayed during his time in Ligue 1 with Lille. Pepe has shown flashes of brilliance for Arsenal, but you sense there is still plenty more to come from the winger.
Across the team, you sense Arteta has still yet to decide who his best team is. He has chopped and changed his defence since taking charge, with Bukayo Saka, Ashley Maitland-Niles, Kieran Tierney, Sead Kolasinac and Hector Bellerin all rotated as full-backs. The emergence of of Saka has definitely been a highlight of Arteta's managerial career so far, and many tip the player for England international honours in the near future.
With Arteta this week suggesting that Henrikh Mkhitaryan is in his plans for next season, this is an indication that the Spaniard is already thinking about what to do on the transfer market during the summer. Mkhitaryan has caught the eye since making a loan move to Roma and it is understood that Arsenal have decided against letting the Armenian leave on a permanent transfer.
Since taking charge, Arteta has a decent 50 percent win ratio for the Gunners, and has only lost 2 games from 16. There is a sense that Arsenal are building something very special and the club's fans are back in full voice. It will be crucial for Arteta to discover who will be in his starting XI over the coming months, so that a rebuilding programme can commence as soon as the transfer market reopens in July.