During Mikel Arteta’s tenure as manager, the phrase has become something of a mantra for Arsenal. From the start, here was a respected former player, schooled in management by the great Pep Guardiola, with a plan to resurrect a dormant club.
It became a stick with which disgruntled supporters sarcastically beat the Spaniard in the darkest days, most notably the three straight, humiliating losses to begin this league season.
But Mikel Arteta’s team is now unbeaten in eight league games – ten if you count the Carabao Cup – and sit fifth in the table, despite having a young, mostly new squad that is starting to gel.
Arteta’s philosophy was laid out in his first interview for Arsenal’s media channel in December 2019.
On the field, he emphasized the importance of passion, dominance, aggression, and playing in the opponents’ territory. There were “non-negotiables” off it: respect, humility, accountability, and unity. He also mentioned trust.
It was difficult for many Arsenal supporters to maintain their faith after three Premier League games this season. The Gunners were meek at Brentford, easily brushed aside by Chelsea, and battered at Manchester City, leaving them bottom of the table with no points or goals to their name.
It was the first time they had lost their first three league matches since 1954, and each displayed familiar flaws – a lack of a clear, coherent, and effective tactical plan, costly errors, a soft underbelly, and too little fight. All of this comes after a record-breaking summer transfer fee of up to £150 million.
It came after a season that started well after winning the 2019-20 FA Cup, but quickly deteriorated, to the point where West Brom boss Sam Allardyce suggested the Gunners were among his team’s relegation rivals.
They would come back to finish eighth, but missing out on European football for the first time in 25 years was an unacceptable performance for an expectant fan base yearning for the regular title challenges of Arsene Wenger’s heyday.
Some of the shaky old guards were replaced, including David Luiz, Willian, Hector Bellerin, and Lucas Torreira, with six young, moldable players, including England internationals Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale. It was the most revolutionary period of Mikel Arteta’s still-young presidency.
Fans’ quiet optimism, however, was quickly dashed before the end of a truly disastrous August, which saw knives sharpened and primarily pointed in the manager’s direction.