High praise for Arteta following Arsenal’s impressive start to season
LONDON - It is high time that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta deserves some praise for the work that he has done with the Gunners.
Few would have expected it, especially the critics who have doubted the Spaniard since he was appointed in 2019, but the London side have been soaring this season. Arteta’s men head into Thursday’s Europa League clash with Dutch side PSV - the match was rescheduled from September following the death of Queen Elizabeth II - after winning 12 of their 13 matches this campaign.
The Premier League leaders have been doing well in Europe, as a perfect tally of nine points means they are two points clear of PSV and will guarantee a place in the knockout round play-offs at the very least with a draw.
It is still early days in the season, but former Liverpool and Everton manager Rafael Benitez and ex-Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand have hailed Arteta and his players for their progress this term.
“It’s good to give time to a coach and it’s good to give time to the right coach,” said Benitez.
“In England, it’s easy to talk about spending money. With the economical crisis around the world, you have to improve your players. You have to coach your players properly and keep your eye on the academy and bring players from the academy.
“Arsenal are doing well. They are doing a lot of things right. They press high. They have the possession. They move the ball very quickly. They have lively and very dynamic players in front that as soon as they give the ball away, they press, and then they regain the ball quickly.”
One of those impressive forward players is the 21-year-old winger Bukayo Saka, who has five goals and four assists in Arsenal’s 13 games this season.
“In this form you can’t look past Saka on that right-wing spot,” said Ferdinand.
“He’s a winger who when he gets it, his first instinct and intention is to go past you. As soon as he got the ball one v one, he was looking to beat the full-back.
“I love that about (Saka), he’s got no fear. He’s playing with a bit more maturity every time I see him.”
Following a 3-1 loss to United in September, Arsenal’s only defeat this season, Arteta has seen his side win seven straight games in all competitions, including victories over north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.
But the Spaniard will be wary that the Gunners do not have a good record against PSV. The two sides have met six times in total - all in the Champions League - with Arsenal winless in their last three encounters, losing once and drawing twice.
Long-term absentees Emile Smith Rowe and Mohamed Elneny will not be available on Thursday, while Oleksandr Zinchenko is still doubtful with a calf issue.
PSV coach and former United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, who helped end Arsenal’s record 49-game unbeaten run in 2004 with a goal in a 2-0 victory, will be encouraged by his side’s momentum heading into the match.
They have clinched four successive victories in all competitions and have scored 11 goals in their last two games.
Van Nistelrooy has said that former Tottenham prospect Noi Madueke is ready to feature against Arsenal, with the winger yet to play this season due to injury. Mauro Junior and Luuk de Jong could also play a part.
“I expect him (Madueke) to join on Thursday,” he said. “It could be that they (Junior and de Jong) are also there. They can really raise the competition in the team. With competition, you push each other to the limit.” - AFP
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