It’s still a few days till Christmas but with Mikel Arteta already unwrapped as Arsenal’s new boss, it sure feels like it came early with a genuine buzz of excitement amongst most Gooners. However, he’s not taking charge yet.
Seasons greetings all. Arsenal are at Goodison Park this afternoon for their Premier League clash against Everton, with quite a few similarities between these sides.
Following the sackings of Unai Emery and Marco Silva, both clubs are currently interimly led by former players, Freddie Ljungberg and Duncan Ferguson respectively. And with Arteta’s appointment now finalized and that of Carlo Ancelotti expected soon, both will be watching from the stands before taking over the reins.
By keeping Freddie from having his own coaching staff it was always clear that Arsenal’s chiefs were going to make a decision sooner rather than later regarding the permanent head-coach position going into the festive run. And while Arteta’s appointment is expected to raise a few brows, his return should be regarded as a fresh start for a team that have not yet recovered from their end-of-season dip last campaign.
What many should remember is that this is anything but a rash decision. The Spaniard has been on the club’s radar for some time and was expected to be Arsène Wenger’s natural successor, however, the clubs hierarchy went for Emery instead.
With the acknowledgement now that there will be no quick fix, one Arteta’s immediate tasks will be to improve performances, particularly in midfield and defense, embossing his personal touch from the outset to try stop our slide further away from teams challenging for Champions League qualifying spots.
While Arsenal didn’t get the “new manager bounce” under Freddie, despite otherwise hopeful performances, Duncan Ferguson seems to have sparked quite an upturn in form for Everton, who had a run a three straight defeats before he took over. They got a big win at home against Chelsea, followed by a well-deserved draw with Man United at Old Trafford; a result which has put three points between themselves and the drop zone.
With Ancelotti’s appointment yet to be made formal having Big Dunc, as he’s affectionately known around Goodison, in the dugout could be a silver lining; as he could take the momentum from their games against Chelsea, Man United and Leicester to the Gunners.
There are a few selection issues in defense for the Gunners, including Sokratis Papastathopoulos who will miss out due to serving a one-match-ban. Sead Kolasinac is ruled out till January, while Hector Bellerìn, Rob Holding, as well as Mesut Özil are to be assessed prior to the game. Granit Xhaka is available and ready to jump right back in.
If Hector is not ready we could see some remodeling to our defense to accommodate Ainsley Maitland-Niles in place of the Bosnian.
Alexandre Lacazette will be itching to get a start after spending some time on the bench of late.
This game is being played under such unusual circumstances that it’s difficult to predict an outcome.
Everton have impressed under Big Dunc, so what better way to sign off with three points while at the same time wanting to impress the Italian. Whilst the Arsenal players as well as Freddie would want to do the same to mark the inspirational return of one Mikel Arteta, who led the side to their first trophy of the Emirates Stadium era.
In closing this quote from Santi Cazorla when asked whether his good friend has what it takes to be successful at Arsenal:
“He has the personality to do so and those who think otherwise are very much mistaken. He is not the sort of person who will shy away from making the most difficult and drastic decisions he might have to.”
On whether he might join as an assistant:
“In the future, who knows?”
I haven’t been this excited looking forward to an Arsenal game in ages. COYG!