Ex-Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn has backed Mikel Arteta to succeed in rebuilding Arsenal ahead of their high-profile clash with Premier League champions Liverpool on Monday.
after winning the FA Cup and Community Shield just nine months after he was enrolled into his first ever top-flight management job.
The Gunners have lost just six games in all competitions since Arteta took charge in December 2019, and while they struggled to carve out victories early on in his reign their form has drastically improved over the last few months.
Their first ten games under the Spaniard resulted in three wins, six draws and one defeat but their most recent ten games have yielded much better results. They have won eight and lost two, including a stunning FA Cup triumph just eight months after his arrival and, more recently, Community Shield success over Liverpool.
Arteta instills winning mentality at Emirates
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Spotlight Sports Group, Winterburn said: “Arsenal are certainly getting mentally stronger under Mikel Arteta which has been shown in a few cases last season.
“When people are watching football from the outside, they tend to focus on a player’s ability. For me, ability is a given.
“You need to be able to keep pushing yourself and pushing your teammates to dig out the results. Last season Arsenal would’ve been in danger of losing a game like that to West Ham. I wouldn’t have seen them going on to win that type of game last season.
“Mikel Arteta is already doing a fantastic job with the club, he’s a no-nonsense manager that knows what he wants.
“It’s not all perfect, there’s a long way for Arsenal to go and I’m certainly not getting carried away. However, it’s nice to feel that there is some progression.”
Gunners’ defensive rebuild taking shape
While Arsenal’s attacking credentials haven’t been in doubt since the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, there has always been a nagging concern surrounding their porous back line.
Indeed, Arsenal kept just two clean sheets in their 17 Premier League matches before Arteta’s arrival, and while this record did improve the potential for calamity was always at the back of the fans’ minds.
With William Saliba returning from loan and the bumper signing of Gabriel Magalhaes, Winterburn is optimistic about their future.
“Gabriel has come in and slotted into the team nicely. He made a slight mistake against Fulham which nearly cost Arsenal early on, but since then he has been brilliant.
“What I like about him is that he seems a no-nonsense centre back and powerful in the air. He doesn’t mind knocking the striker over and letting the players around him know that he isn’t to be messed with.”
However, Winterburn is a little more reserved about Saliba after a hit and miss season on loan at St Etienne:
“I was tracking William Saliba last season, so I know the talent he has but I know he had a few injuries which didn’t help; he’s not played a great deal of football.
“He is a young man who will develop as he gets older and he is very impressionable so there is no doubt in my mind that he will come through and play many games for Arsenal.”
Arsenal make the trip to the north west on Monday evening to face defending Premier League champions Liverpool. You can find all our analysis on that match, plus every other top flight game this weekend, on our Premier League predictions page.