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A brace from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw Arsenal come from a goal down to beat Chelsea 2-1 and clinch the club's 14th FA Cup in a behind-closed-doors clash at an empty Wembley on Saturday. /Photo: Screenshot/TEC

Has Mikel Arteta heralded the dawn of a new era at Arsenal?

Arsenal football club is one of Europe’s topflight sides that has been a shadow of itself in the last few seasons, especially since the departure of their long-time manager Arsene Wenger. The departure of Wenger brought about the signing of former Villareal manager Unai Emery by the English side.

Unai Emery inherited an Arsenal side who were Europa league finalists, however the manager’s struggles with the English language and his inability to get his points across to his team made the team struggle in the later part of his managerial time with the club.

Unai Emery started fine and it initially seemed like the club found a good fit in him to replace erstwhile manager Wenger. However, the cookie began to crumble for Emery in his second season, and Arsenal failed to win away matches points.

Things took a turn for the worse when the team’s captain Granit Xhaka threw tantrum on the pitch at the fans who were groaning due to the team’s poor performance. The management of the club after seeing the continuous drowning of the team saw no alternative but to relieve the manager of his job and try as much as possible to salvage their season.

Mikel Arteta, holding Arsenal’s 14th FA Cup on Saturday. He becomes one of the few managers in Europe who can boast of winning a major title in their first few months in charge of a major club/ Photo: Screenshot/FC Arsenal

 

Then comes the caretaker manager in the person of former arsenal player who was one of Emery’s assistants, Freddie Ljungberg. He was appointed on 9 November 2019 following Emery’s sack from the club. He had a record of one win, three draws and two defeats as interim head coach. Ljungberg did not impress the management enough to be kept on the job or the fans as well, who also were calling for a permanent solution to the managerial situation of the club.

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This prompted the management of the club to appoint former arsenal skipper Mikel Arteta as the club head-coach.

The team struggled but towards the tail end of the season it looked like they had found their footing despite the challenges the pandemic threw at the team and the league generally in Europe. The period saw Arteta battling the deadly coronavirus infection and then recovering from it. The new manager has led the team to defeat a Carlo Ancelotti-led Everton, the UEFA champions league defending champions Liverpool side led by Jurgen Klopp and he also saw the team defeat both Manchester club sides in the just concluded league season in England.

Ultimately the highlight of the season for Arsenal and their newly-appointed manager Arteta would be their triumph over derby neighbours Chelsea in the Football Associations Cup (FA Cup) on Saturday despite finishing their EPL run for the 2019/2020 season at the 8th position and clearly outside the European league competition spots. No doubt knowing that winning the competition could see them return to Europe was enough motivation to see them give it their best. This was no doubt what motivated the team led by Arteta to win on 1 August 2020.

Arteta becomes one of the few managers in Europe who can boast of winning a major title in their first few months in charge of a club. Also, this no doubt would uplift the spirit of club fans who would be hoping the pandemic would be well handled and they can be back to the stadium to support their beloved club.

It has not been a rosy season for Arsenal but then with the advent of Arteta at the helms of affairs and both management and fans would be hoping this would be the dawn of a new era for the club and the squad at large. They would be hoping the mission statement on the club’s crest ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’ (meaning, Victory grows out of harmony) would be upheld in the coming season. Congratulations to Arsenal football club and their fans worldwide!

Opeyemi Babalola

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