Maturing Arsenal are now fearless with Mikel Arteta’s side not afraid to make mistakes

·3-min read
Maturing Arsenal are now fearless with Mikel Arteta’s side not afraid to make mistakes

During his 100 Premier League games in charge of Arsenal, Mikel Arteta has experienced moments like Saturday’s encounter with Fulham before.

Once again, Arsenal were guilty of committing an individual error as Gabriel was caught in possession on the edge of his box, with Aleksandar Mitrovic punishing him by finding the back of the net.

Particularly during the early days of Arteta’s tenure, Arsenal were prone to such moments and they thwarted their progress.

Those individual errors have become rarer as Arteta has hit 100 Premier League games and, crucially, the way Arsenal respond to them appears to be changing too.

All too often those mistakes led to dropped points and if Arsenal want to take the next step this season and qualify for the Champions League, they need to make that a thing of the past.

Saturday against Fulham was a good start, with Arsenal coming from behind to win 2-1. They managed that only once last season in the Premier League.

Now, though, they look equipped to fight back largely thanks to their attacking strength. Gabriel Jesus has transformed the forward line and suddenly Arsenal look like a team with the firepower to get themselves out of trouble.

It is their mentality too, however, that looks different and individual errors do not feel like a pre-cursor to dropped points.

A large part of that is down to the atmosphere within the squad and also outside of it. There is a new resolve to Arsenal, a steeliness about them which suggests they will be serious contenders to finish in the top four this season.

“I think we found that a lot of times last season we stood up for ourselves,” said Aaron Ramsdale.

“I remember going to Burnley and winning 1-0 away from home and standing up to an onslaught and things like that.

“Honestly you add [William] Saliba into the back-four, who is a big boy, Ben [White] playing right-back, [Takehiro] Tomiyasu coming on, you’ve then got a back-four who are 6ft 3in each, every one of them.

“It’s not that we were lacking in that area, it’s just about a love of defending. It’s not necessarily saying: ‘I’m not going to get bullied’, it’s: ‘I’m not going to concede a goal’.

“I think I made a save and the ball stayed out of the net because Ben White threw his body in front of it. So that’s testament to the defenders.”

The atmosphere, however, is not just different in the squad but also among supporters too.

In seasons gone by, certainly in the pre-Covid days, an error would be greeted by groans at Emirates Stadium and a sense it wasn’t Arsenal’s day. Things could also turn toxic at times too.

That undoubtedly rubbed off on the players, who on occasion could look paralysed by the fear of making a mistake.

Mikel Arteta praised his Arsenal side for having ‘grown up’ (Getty Images)
Mikel Arteta praised his Arsenal side for having ‘grown up’ (Getty Images)

The mood now, however, is completely different. Gabriel’s error on Saturday prompted cheers from the crowd, who spurred Arsenal to turn it around. It was the same when Saliba scored an own-goal against Leicester.

Now an error does not feel like a disaster, but a bump in the road as Arsenal push to get three points.

Arteta must take some credit for them. It was revealed at Fans’ Forum meeting in May that he has specifically tasked the club with improving the atmosphere at Emirates Stadium.

He is open to all ideas, looking at what other clubs do, as the Spaniard genuinely believes the bond with supporters can make a difference.

So far, there is evidence of the benefit of it as Arsenal sit top of the Premier League with four wins from as many games.

Tougher tests undoubtedly lie ahead, however there is at least now a sense Arsenal can weather the storm.