Mikel Arteta says Arsenal are still a protracted way from imposing his vision for the club into practice with refinements needed across the pitch if they are to reach the level that is expected of them.
Arsenal are currently 10th in the Premier League with 12 games remaining, 10 points off Chelsea in fourth albeit with a game in hand. They are also in the last 16 of the Europa League where they will face Olympiacos, the first leg of which takes place in Greece next week. It is a situation that Arteta believes is unacceptable for a club of the Gunners’ size.
It has been worse this season, a run of two points from seven games until Christmas last year prompting disquiet from some supporters over Arteta even though his position was never in doubt among the Arsenal hierarchy. There have been signs of progress since, with only Manchester City having won more games since Dec. 25, but Arteta insists there is still a long way to go.
He appeared to indicate that some of that will come through adding “quality,” likely in the transfer market, but also laid out a wide range of factors in which he wants his squad to get better.
Asked how close he is to putting his vision for the club into reality, Arteta said: “Very far. Very, very far.
“There’s still a lot to improve, a lot of quality to add. [We need to be] much more efficient in decision making, much quicker to open situations up when the advantages are there, many more situations to finish when the advantage is obtained, more control of games, more defensive actions in the opponents’ half, less giveaways in our own half, more clean sheets, more goals to score, more creativity.
“It’s a lot to do.”
Despite such a gloomy assessment of Arsenal’s current standing, Arteta sees signs of progress and feels he need look no further than the progress made since his side last met Saturday’s opponents Burnley, a 1-0 defeat in mid-December where the Gunners failed to convert 65 percent possession, 18 shots and 1.63 expected goals into anything more than an own goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and a red card for Granit Xhaka.
“I’m getting there,” Arteta said. “When you look at the previous game you played against a team a few months ago and you look at where the team is now it’s always a good way of seeing the progression and I’ve seen that.”
While Arteta is only at the beginning of defining his Arsenal, Saturday brings with it a meeting with a Burnley side whose identity has been set in stone for some time under Sean Dyche.
The Clarets manager is the third longest-serving manager in the English Football League with a tenure of eight-and-a-half years, nearly three more than any other Premier League boss. Arteta sees no reason why he could not spend that long at one club “if you are happy where you are and most importantly they are happy with the job that you are doing.
“It’s a really strong relationship [between Dyche and Burnley}. What he has done again is remarkable, the way he has kept his team in the Premier League.”