Mikel Arteta has not had it easy at Arsenal. Having inherited a team in freefall in December, his tenure started with a run of seven games in less than a month. The schedule has been even more hectic since the restart and there have been injuries and disciplinary issues to contend with too.
It could hardly have been more challenging. In fact it has felt like an impossible job at times. But the events of the last week show why Arsenal put their faith in him. “We’ve beaten probably the two best teams in Europe,” he surmised after Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City.
It was achieved with the same group of players Arteta inherited from Unai Emery. There were no major arrivals in January and those they did sign, Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares, have rarely featured due to injuries. Since then, Mesut Ozil has been frozen out for failing to conform to Arteta’s way of working and Matteo Guendouzi has suffered the same fate.
Instead of being weakened, however, Arsenal have become stronger.