The 'Arteta Out' movement died on Sunday as fading critics cling to odd hope of Arsenal demise


Remember the days of the Arsene Wenger ‘In and Out’ debates that would pepper your social media feeds, YouTube comment sections and even closer to home in WhatsApp group chats? Well, the start of Mikel Arteta’s tenure brought about the continuation of the Arsenal fan base divide with supporters and critics of the Spaniard setting out their stools early.

I have been guilty of getting whipped up in taking sides on the topic and certainly let my unwavering support of Arteta at the beginning blind me from being objective to spot the errors he was making. As Arsenal finished in back-to-back eighth places, I certainly could sympathise with those who were doubting whether Arteta was the right man for the job.

What I cannot, however, find that same reason with is the remaining, or rather dwindling, portion of his critics who remain steadfast in their hatred of the coach. For me, last season’s title challenge collapsing allowed the dwindling population of the Gunners’ manager’s haters something to cling to.

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The fact a title challenge that, even Arteta’s biggest supporters, did not predict was not enough to change the minds of everyone to consider that the Spaniard’s work might actually be benefitting the club and taking them in the right direction was baffling enough. From engaging and reading comments on The Arsenal Way or my own personal spaces, it became apparent that plenty of these doubters persisted.

In that failed title approach, the Gunners lost to Manchester City twice. They would eventually win more than just the league title and claim a treble too and match their city rivals’ greatest achievement.

If you want to win the league, you need to show you can beat the team most likely to challenge you for it. Last Sunday, Arsenal managed to do just that and record a hard-fought 1-0 win over the champions.

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For me, this was the day that the ‘Arteta Out’ movement died. There is not a team in the league Mikel Arteta has not beaten, outside of the newly promoted Luton Town. In the opening eight games, Arteta has ended the poor run with Man City but also the away trips to Everton and Selhurst Park have suddenly become a regular arena of collecting three points.

Without question, he needs to win another trophy. That FA Cup in 2020 seems so long ago and it was impressive because of how he won it with the broken remains of Unai Emery’s mess that was left behind after his departure.

He has his own squad, his own players and little-to-no indications of either of the previous two coaches. Players like Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and William Saliba who were either signed by one of the previous coaches or given their senior debut by them have been renewed in the Arteta era and certainly fall into the category of his stars.

His individual coaching of these players and their personal improvements are credited to him. The change of countless detrimental character traits the club had prior to his arrival have either gone or are close to being eradicated.

Defensive records, performances away from home, swathes of questionable transfers and even errors. Granted the latter remains, as it does for all clubs and coaches but the number of self-inflicted issues in fixtures has certainly diminished.

Arteta even broke the mould of his philosophy at the weekend. How many times under the manager have we seen Arsenal try to go toe-to-toe with teams like Manchester City and Liverpool and get burned because of it?

Pep Guardiola faced an Arsenal team ready to dig in, be patient and be ruthless when the time came to claim the three points. Not only that, once the lead was secured, akin to City’s FA Cup 1-0 win at the Etihad over Arsenal last season, the home side controlled the remaining minutes and never gave the visitors a sniff of goal.

It’s here I ask the question what on Earth can Mikel Arteta do besides against all odds beat this juggernaut of a club Man City to a title to convince you that he is the right man for the job now? And if that is indeed the answer, I question whether those expectations are both fair and justifiable.

For me, the ‘Arteta Out’ movement, if it ever was a genuine group collective which sounds rather eye-rolling in reflection, is dead. The debate is, at least until there’s a serious drop in form and a subsequent failure under Arteta’s tenure, over.

Those who want to cling onto the rather odd obsession with campaigning for the end of Arteta’s time at the club can of course do so. But what is not in question is that everybody else is having a far greater time enjoying this team’s victories – goodness me I certainly did on Sunday.

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