The Gunners have made their own great strides since losing to Brentford last season, proving plenty of people wrong.
Arsenal have proved their point to doubters since last season with a brilliant turnaround in the last 12 months. Mikel Arteta has bravely steered his team from losing their first three matches of last season without scoring a goal into genuine top four contenders, and lots of people have been eating humble pie.
The Spaniard was under immense pressure last campaign and managed to resurrect a dying season with captaincy turmoil and fan unrest into a genuine top-four challenge, and although there was an end-of-season collapse to spoil the built-up momentum, Arsenal are now in the best shape they have been for a while.
Arteta has his team playing expressive, exciting football, blending youth and experience to make a 100% start to the new season after a commanding 4-2 victory over Leicester City.
To make the day even better, Gunners could then sit back and watch the first-half capitulation for Erik ten Hag at Manchester United as the Red Devils slumped to being 4-0 down inside 35 minutes against Brentford, and the moment was beautifully ironic for the fans that had listened to Gary Neville just one year earlier.
After an opening day, 2-0 loss to the Bees last season, Arsenal weren’t in a good state, and Neville went on Friday Night Football in rampaging style to rip the club’s structure and business to pieces, saying, “I don’t know the plan at Arsenal. The recruitment to me it’s been really poor compared to other clubs. They have just been poor in the last few years. I don’t get the strategy. I don’t get the direction of where they are taking the team.
“I think they’ve got a really talented young manager, and I think even if he’s able to get the best out of them, I don’t think they can achieve the top four. He will come under pressure because every managing of a top-six club that is losing matches will come under pressure.”
Things would get worse before they got better for Arteta last year, but this season they are already six points better off, and the feeling at the club is unrecognizable. Whilst last season Manchester United were optimistic about building on a second-placed finish in 2020/21, Neville had asserted his strong views on the Gunners’ strategy, or supposed lack of, only for the two seasons to go in massively different directions.
United had to sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and then the interim, Ralph Rangnick, alongside the idea of him acting as a director for this season. Meanwhile, Arsenal made great strides, developing Aaron Ramsdale, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel, Gabriel Martinelli and more.
Arteta was also vindicated in his decision to strip Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the captaincy, and now, after Neville said, “you can see tonight, and when he came out for the interview after the game, I don’t know there’s something in the Aubameyang and Lacazette in the pre-match message. I worry really when the managers have some people in the dressing room they might not like, and I can feel that now with Mikel Arteta, he will want really good professionals,” that Arteta made the right choice.
Instead of starting the season with his two ageing, underperforming and disruptive strikers, Arsenal have Gabriel Jesus in startling form. Closer to Neville’s own home and Old Trafford is being ripped apart by the former right-back, who has been quick to criticize the transfer activity of Chelsea and Arsenal several times in the last two seasons.