Mikel Arteta has conceded he has been forced to make more changes than he initially hoped as he prepares to celebrate two years in charge of Arsenal.
The Spaniard’s 18-man matchday squad for his first game at the helm against Bournemouth on Boxing Day 2019 featured just eight players who remain in the first team two years on.
Even some of those who featured that day and remain at the club aren’t exactly in the manager’s good books, with now-exiled former club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang having been Arsenal’s goalscorer on that rain-sodden afternoon on the South Coast.
Reflecting on the amount of change the playing staff has gone through during his relatively short tenure, Arteta admitted it was not something he had wished for when he first returned to the club.
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“It’s been an incredible amount of turnaround in players in the last two seasons, much more than we wished or hoped for,” Arteta conceded.
“We try to make all the right decisions, sometimes right, sometimes wrong and we’ll continue to do that in the best interests of the club and to get a better team, better performances and better results.”
The Gunners boss went on to explain how part of the huge overhaul has been down to him trying to change the culture within the club, though he admits there have been mistakes along the way.
“I’m most proud of the atmosphere, the environment and the culture we have around the club and the sense of unity that we have from everybody who works at the club.
“The sense of unity that we have with our supporters I think has come a long, long way.
“I think I have made a lot of mistakes for sure in this period, I would need to have time to reflect on that, but I don’t know, I wish I had six trophies here next to me because that’s what this club deserves!”
Arteta made drastic changes to his playing staff this summer, signing six new stars who have all come in and impressed immediately.
Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White, signed for a combined figure of around £75million, are now regulars in Arsenal’s defensive operation, as is £16m right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu.
Nuno Tavares has enjoyed a solid amount of game time considering he was purchased as a deputy for regular full-back Kieran Tierney, while Albert Sambi Lokonga and Martin Odegaard have both drastically improved Arsenal’s midfield options.
Arsenal will spend Christmas Day in the top four of the Premier League for the first time since 2016, before they face relegation-threatened Norwich on Boxing Day.