Mikel Arteta exclusive: Arsenal owners the Kroenkes will do ‘all they can’ to win trophies
Mikel Arteta says he is convinced that Arsenal's ambitious owners will continue to back him to deliver a sustained period of success for the club.
On Monday, the Spaniard was named Manager of the Year, as Arsenal became the first club to win a clean sweep of the four top gongs at the London Football Awards, reflecting their commanding position at the top of the Premier League.
His side have a five-point lead over Manchester City with 11 games to play and are well-placed to progress to the quarter-finals of the Europa League in tomorrow's last-16 decider against Sporting Lisbon, after a 2-2 draw in Portugal.
Arsenal's breakthrough season caps a dramatic turnaround for both Arteta and the club's owners, the Kroenke family, who were facing intense pressure from supporters in the wake of the doomed European Super League plot less than two years ago.
Speaking to Standard Sport, Arteta believes the Kroenkes' patience has paid off and says they have "big ambitions" for the future of the club.
"It took some time to position themselves where they wanted in terms of how much of the club they own and how much they could decide and how much they could really benefit the club in the way they believe is right," Arteta said. "I believe they were really patient in exactly the right way. Now they have shown they are fully committed, they have big ambitions and they are fully behind the club to give everything they can to make it successful.
"I am convinced the owners will continue to do everything to make us very successful and continue to invest in the club in the right way."
The Kroenkes have shown commendable patience with Arteta since naming him as Unai Emery's successor in December 2019, sticking with the 40-year-old through a long, expensive and often frustrating rebuild.
Last season's late collapse, which cost the club a return to the Champions League, followed consecutive eighth-place finishes under Arteta.
The manager, though, had a store of credit in the bank after winning the 2020 FA Cup in his first season and, looking back, Arteta is not convinced he would still be at the club if he had not enjoyed that early success.
"To start your managerial career with no experience at any level and face straight away that success and then having two years of Covid, with all the challenges that we had at the club, probably I am lucky to be sitting here today, looking back at how it could have developed!" he said. "I have always been fascinated with the journey and living every single day like it is your last. You have to take this job, especially, like this, because every day there are challenges, as well as great opportunities.
"I just try to be the best possible manager for Arsenal and [provide] what Arsenal need today from me to make them better. In one month, it will be different and two years' time maybe they need something else, but it is about today."
At the end of last season, the Kroenkes rewarded Arteta with a contract extension to summer 2025 and the Spaniard has revealed the club is "ahead of schedule" of his carefully mapped out — but private — five-phase plan.
"We are in 'Phase Three' and a little bit ahead of schedule," Arteta said. "It's private but [the plan] is just my understanding and vision of what the club was, and what we have to capture and develop. It's my idea of the decisions we have to take to move it forward.
"I take things day by day. It's the only thing you can do when you're a manager. You have to be focused on daily and not get too lost.
"But the bigger picture is clear. I know what I would like to do and what I would like the club to be in certain months, but we have to impact today's decisions in the best way to be where we want."
If Arsenal win a first title since 2004, they would deny Manchester City a fifth crown in six seasons and break up the duopoly of Pep Guardiola's side and Liverpool at the top of the League.
Guardiola's City won the 2017-18 title with a record-breaking 100 points, while Liverpool amassed 99 as champions two years later. Arteta says competing with the pair has helped Arsenal improve and believes they have set the standards for his side to match.
"When you look at those incredible teams and managers, they just make you better," said Arteta, who was Guardiola's No2 until joining Arsenal. "They've set standards that nobody has seen before in the history of this league over the last five or six years and that's the level that we have to be at. To do that, every single day you have to be better than the day before and really, really focused on what we want to achieve.
"We are now going to have to do something incredible until the end of the season to earn the right to be there."
Both City and Liverpool have opened the door for Arsenal this season, with Guardiola's side's struggling to match their remarkable consistency of recent years and Liverpool down in sixth, scrapping for a Champions League place.
Big-spending Chelsea have also tanked this term while they transition to new ownership and coaching staff, while there are reasons to think that Saudi Arabia-backed Newcastle, Erik ten Hag's Manchester United, who are under offer from potential new owners, and Tottenham could all be stronger next year. Arteta is in no doubt that to achieve long-term success, Arsenal will have to be "ahead of the game" in future.
"This season we have the opportunity [to win the title] and we're full of enthusiasm and positivity to try to accomplish that," he said. "Next season, for sure when you look at the investment [elsewhere], the ownership [situations] as well, there's a lot happening in the league and in football in general.
"Bigger challenges are going to come, so we need to be ahead of the game if we are going to sustain it.