Football news - Arsenal showing plenty of promise under Mikel Arteta
Paul Hassall suggests Arsenal's 3-2 win over Everton was the strongest evidence yet that Mikel Arteta is the man to take the Gunners down the long path back to where they feel they belong.
While Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis have made headlines battering the UK over the past fortnight, the winds of change have been blowing in a more subtle way throughout Arsenal Football Club for a number of months. It started as a light breeze over the festive period, a mere flutter of the club flag at the London Colney training centre.
Slowly but surely Mikel Arteta's influence has gathered pace, making its presence felt at Emirates Stadium and in other arenas on the Premier League map. There have been plenty of draws along the way and while it's been far from the perfect storm, the Spaniard's impact has not gone unnoticed by the cluster of teams locked in a tight battle to claim European places for next season.
This was arguably the biggest test of Arteta's fledgling Gunners tenure so far. An Everton side, who have made their own improvement under Carlo Ancelotti, had lost just once under the Italian in the Premier League prior to this clash at Emirates Stadium. That came at champions, Manchester City, and given the Toffees are a clear rival for a top four/five spot, this was a big result for the Gunners and further proof that Arteta is a man who can make managerial waves.
Okay, they didn't quite blow the Blues away, but the end result meant it was a test Arteta and Co ultimately passed. You sense that may not have been the case if they had cut their losses in December and stuck with Unai Emery for the rest of the season.
Yes, there remain issues to remedy in defence that were magnified by Everton's two goals, but six wins (three in a row) and one loss in 12 outings in all competitions is a strong foundation to build upon. Indeed, the North London outfit appear to be made of sterner stuff nowadays with the rejuvenation of the likes of Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi evidence of Arteta's influence on individual players. Add in his confidence in talented youngsters like Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah, who combined so brilliantly to make it 1-1, and there are plenty of encouraging sign posts.
Arsenal now sit alongside champions-elect Liverpool as the only unbeaten Premier League sides in 2020 and they remain in the hunt for silverware in both the FA Cup and the Europa League.
The Gunners are seven points adrift of fourth spot and just four behind Manchester United in fifth, with a run of games ahead that could well propel them firmly into the discussion for Champions League football next season. Throw in Manchester City's Champions League ban and if Pep Guardiola's men don't come out on the right side of an appeal, it could well be significant for Arsenal.
Behind closed doors Arteta's men will be looking at a run of Premier League fixtures that could well see them surge up the table if they can sustain this upward trajectory in form. West Ham (H), Brighton (a), Southampton (a) and Norwich (H) are certainly games they will be keen to clock up the points from ahead of what could then be a defining period come mid-April. That's when matches with rivals for European places come thick and fast in the shape of Wolves, Leicester and Tottenham.
There's a lot of ifs in there but all Arsenal can do is keep taking it one day at a time and continue to work under Arteta. We are still some way from classifying Arsenal's resurgence as 'Storm Mikel', but the wind certainly seems to be flowing in the right direction.
More News in football
Former Barcelona striker Paco Alcacer has FIRED Villarreal into an early lead at Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano. The Spanish international, who joined Javi Calleja's side from Borussia Dortmund during the January transfer window. However he
(Image: Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images) Mikel, your team showed a lot of fight today? "Absolutely, I am really pleased with the performance. It's not easy to play three times
Mikel Arteta hopes he can convince Arsenal's "most important player" Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to stay at the club after he scored twice to help the Gunners to a 3-2 win over Everton. Aubameyang now has 19 goals
Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a difficult time at Arsenal but the midfielder looks like he is getting back to his best at Roma this season. The 31-year-old joined the Gunners from Manchester United two