Arsenal’s Young Guns lose their head against Manchester City.
But today’s performance proved that Mikel Arteta has found his groove at Arsenal.
For nearly an hour the Spaniard would have seen his side fully implement their game plan from home, leading the champions 1-0 thanks to a strike from Bukayo Saka.
But he may have hid behind the couch in moments later, when Granit Zacca brought Bernardo Silva down in the penalty area and hurled the game in a different direction.
Riyad Mahrez, ignorant of a scuffle on the penalty spot by Gabriel, drew home a draw – before the Brazilian defender was shown a second yellow card, just two minutes later at the halfway line for unflattering Gabriel Jesus. .
Rodri broke Arsenal hearts in stoppage time but when the dust settles today could go down as a good day for the Gunners.
It proved that they now deserve the respect of their peers at the top of the table.
And is it because the North London players now look a lot better than the side which has dropped to eighth place for the past two seasons?
Free bets: Receive over £2,000 in new customer deals
It is that Arteta is finally being able to implement the ‘reconstruction’ that she was brought in to execute.
The Gunners have had broadly good ideas since their appointment – recruiting young talent, while providing exceptional academy products with opportunities to succeed.
But these efforts have often been undermined by a devastatingly bad decision here and there.
Arteta cannot be blamed for handing Mesut Ozil the huge contract that hung on the club in the last Arsene Wenger days and the short-lived Unai Emery era.
But after finally getting rid of the problem by relegating the German at the end of the 2019–20 campaign, he gave himself two more thirty-somethings to further undermine his efforts.
Signing Willian to a huge, three-year contract in the summer of 2020 was a shocking decision – as it went against the fresh start the club was going for.
And then came the decision to succumb to the pressure and hand Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a huge contract as he entered the final 12 months of his previous deal.
Last season in particular has been underwhelming, amid Willian’s incredibly disappointing performances.
The Brazilian was lashed out and the only obstacle remained in front of Arteta to break the code… his club captain.
Aubameyang’s contract and influential captain status hung like a millstone around his manager – until he was given an excuse to get rid of him.
Arsenal have been looking great since the 32-year-old was relegated and stripped of the captaincy – finally conjuring up a winning formula centered around youth, energy, unfiltered effort and discipline.
He could not guarantee the qualities from his former captain.
Signing up like Takehiro Tomiyasu, Martin Odegaard, Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale, the Gunners have found outstanding talent at the perfect age for their project.
But will they get caught up in another costly mistake? Another Willian-like signature going to happen? Will they keep handing out big contracts to giants that will undermine their culture?
Or will Arteta now be given the tools to succeed?
At the moment, it looks like it may be the latter.
I Read Our Transfer News Live Blog For the latest rumours, gossip and deals made