Five Arsenal stars who have benefitted most from Mikel Arteta replacing Unai Emery as boss
Arsenal quintet Mesut Ozil, Nicolas Pepe, Lucas Torreria, Dani Ceballos and Shkodran Mustafi have all all benefitted from a surge in confidence levels since Unai Emery was sacked and replace by Mikel Arteta, believes former winger Adrian Clarke.
Since his first match against Bournemouth in mid-December, Arteta has made some notable improvements on the Gunners’ squad.
Having overseen 16 matches so far, the Spaniard boasts a 50 per cent win record having also drawn six games and lost two.
Before Arteta arrived, Arsenal had won nine games, drawn 10 and lost seven under Emery - sacked in late November - and interim coach Freddie Ljungberg.
But the north London side have produced some much-improved performances under the new man, who had spent three years as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City before returning to the Emirates.
And Clarke, who came through the Londoners’ academy and played for the first team in the 1990s, bas picked out midfield trio Ozil, Torreira and Ceballos as well as winger Pepe and centre-back Mustafi as those who have profited the most from his appointment.
Clarke, now a renowned Arsenal analyst, told Arsenal Player in a breakdown of Arteta’s impact on the team: "A number of experienced players looked pretty low on confidence prior to Arteta's arrival.
"But starting with a clean slate, the new man has done a fine job of restoring some of that lost self-belief.
"Mesut Ozil had been out of the side but his former team-mate recognised the need to incorporate the classy German, who has performed really well since Christmas, showing more zip, positivity and determination.
"The playmaker has looked happier on the pitch. Record signing Nicolas Pepe has been more influential too, he was outstanding in the vital 2-0 win at home to Manchester United, a breakthrough performance.
"He's certainly had more of a spring in his step. Arteta wants to use Lucas Torreira as a defensive midfielder rather than as a box-to-box man and you can see the Uruguayan responded well to that decision and his confidence returned immediately.
"Also in midfield, Dani Ceballos has picked up his form under the new boss.
"Off the ball, his positioning has been more intelligent and because he's been afforded a run of games, the quality Ceballos displayed early on in his loan spell has returned.
"Arteta will also be thrilled with the way Shkodran Mustafi has performed. Since making a mistake at Chelsea, the German has played consistently well. It's great to see these senior players back on song."
Speaking last month of the job he has watched Arteta do at Arsenal, City boss Guardiola said: “I would say [he has done] incredibly well in the fact that the ideas he’s already implemented are already in the team.
“His positional game is getting better day by day. Doing that in a short time is not easy.
“And I’m pretty sure Arsenal will have success in the future with him on the bench.”
Asked if he’s given his former colleague any advice, the two-time Champions League and Premier League-winning coach added: “Absolutely not.
“He’s an adult, he’s more than prepared, he doesn’t need it.
“We talk about family, the first days, how he’s settling in the team, the normal things. We talk about friends, ex colleagues, we worked together, that’s it.”
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