• News

Arsenal legend hails Arteta impact ahead of City showdown

Mikel Arteta - Arsenal
Getty Images

Arsenal legend Alan Smith has praised Mikel Arteta for removing the fear factor in the club for trips to top sides like Manchester City.

Arsenal have endured a torrid time in their trips to top-six Premier League sides in recent times. Their away form hasn’t fared much better either, opening the door to several upsets in the past.

But things are on the up with Arteta at the helm, with fans hopeful of a result in Saturday’s trip to Manchester City.

The Etihad Stadium hasn’t been a happy stomping ground for the Gunners in the past, with their last victory coming in January 2015. However, Smith is optimistic about everything he’s seen under Arteta so far.

“I think Arsenal fans will be looking forward to this one [against City on Saturday]. More so than a year ago when going to the places of the big boys would have filled them with a bit of dread as to whether they were going to get turned over, embarrassed even,” the former Arsenal striker told Sky Sports.

“Nowadays, win lose or draw, Arsenal fans are fairly confident they’ll go up there prepared, organized, and they’ll give City a good game.

“Arteta has come a long way in a short space of time. As a coach, individually, and also in charge of that Arsenal team that is pushing in the right direction.

“It’s that attention to detail first of all and the demand for high standards week in, week out, and day in, day out on the training ground [which Arteta has in common with Pep Guardiola]. That’s the mark of a good coach, always pushing his team.

“It’s getting those players to buy into that project. It’s not so easy these days, you’ve got independent footballers that can go one way or the other if they don’t feel the manager is the right man and they don’t get a sense he’s doing the right thing.

“Everyone at Arsenal wants to be a part of Arteta’s way forward and if they’re buying into it, that’s a great asset, a great strength to have.

“It would be a statement to go up there and get a win. Obviously they lost at Liverpool and nobody was all that surprised by that, least of all Arteta. There’s still a gap there, a sizeable one.

“The early results suggest it might be a funny season without the fans, we’ve already seen some strange results and we might get some more. I’m not suggesting we’ll get a shock with Leicester winning the title but Arsenal should improve quite significantly on that eighth-place finish last season. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.

“Quite rightly they’re aiming for a top-four finish to get them back in the big time, back into Champions League football where they were for a couple of decades or more. That’s the challenge.

“They’ve obviously won a trophy with the FA Cup last season, which was wonderful, but to get into that top four that would really make a statement in Arteta’s first full season.”