Mikel Arteta had a big job on his hands when he was appointed as Arsenal boss just over a year ago. The Gunners had slipped down the table gradually and were no longer the regulars in the top-four or even top-six. Last season the team showed promise under the Spaniard, even winning the FA Cup. The team from north London have however experienced a difficult start to the current campaign. There was even talk of a relegation battle.
A promising turnaround
The last few matches have seen a turnaround in the Gunners form. A 4-0 win at West Brom on Saturday night was Arsenal’s third straight league win after they saw off Chelsea and Brighton in previous games. The victories have lifted the mood and also lifted the Gunners in the table. In fact, the north London outfit are now only six points off the top four, although they have played a game more than all of the teams currently occupying the top nine positions in the table.
Youngsters have been the key to improvement
From the second that Arteta stepped into the door at Arsenal, the Spaniard seemed to be focussed on playing the younger players within the squad. In reality, the squad that he inherited was a mix of mediocre older players and a bunch of youngsters, who had not quite fulfilled their potential.
The likes of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe have all impressed in recent weeks and played a crucial role in the good results of late. Scotland international Kieran Tierney has started to excel at both ends of the pitch. The 23-year-old has been one of the Gunners better players this season, even with the team producing poor results. Now the team’s results have improved, Tierney has thrived.
Against West Brom, the full-back scored and produced an assist against the Baggies in the 4-0 win. Saka also scored in the win against the team from the Midlands. The 19-year-old showed last season in a variety of positions.
Smith Rowe was also a massive creative force in recent matches, producing three assists in his last three league displays from the number ten role. The 20-year-old is suddenly showing why he is so highly-rated at the north London and producing tangible attacking returns.
Arsenal could still push up the table
The poor start to Arsenal’s Premier League campaign looked to make the Gunners chances of making the top-four or even the top-six look slim this season. However, the recent run of form has given them hope that there is still time to make this season a success. It may only be a start, but it is certainly looking brighter for Arsenal and their starlets have made a big contribution.
This season the league is more condensed than ever before. The Gunners are 11th place in the table, but trail league leaders Liverpool by ten points. There is still plenty of the season to go and Arteta and his team will feel they can still finish in the top-six at least. No doubt that is not their ultimate aim, but Arteta has had a giant mess to clean up. The last few results have proven that Arsenal are moving in the right direction at least now.
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Can Arsenal finish in the Premier League’s top-six this season?