Arsenal fans united in chorus for the manager in the Gunners' opening fixture of the season against Crystal Palace, serenading a former captain on the touchline that they have a deep affinity for. They also sang the "Super Mik Arteta" chant.
You see, Eagles chief Patrick Vieira is loved by Gooners. And why wouldn't he be? The indomitable midfield general of the greatest Arsenal side of all time, Vieira became a byword for the club's continental crunch; a side of flair and force. Vieira's name rung out when he visited the Emirates Stadium last season – long before the Arteta chant was even born. Arseblog writer Tim Stillman (opens in new tab) even touted the Frenchman as a successor for the current boss in FourFourTwo's Season Preview.
It makes Arteta an intriguing parallel. He too captained Arsenal from midfield – but where Vieira was a tornado, Arteta was a gentle breeze. Where Vieira recalls a Midas era, Arteta, as a player at least, is a reminder of a time that perhaps some fans would rather forget. Arsenal weren't great from 2011 to 2016, to be fair.
Two eighth-placed finishes in Arteta's first two seasons didn't exactly flip the narrative, either. A grand rebuild in which the Spaniard tore down the foundations of the Emirates Stadium with little sentiment had more fans questioning his pedigree. Even in All Or Nothing: Arsenal, director Edu makes the observation that it's not easy to support a manager who turfs out the captain and most popular player. And hey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, stunningly, might not even be the best player that this manager has cast aside.
Yet over the course of the Amazon series (opens in new tab), from its emotional team talks and intriguing insight to its Game of Thrones-style finale, one thing is clear. Mikel Arteta is a figure that Arsenal fans should be eternally grateful for.
Arteta took a pay cut to join Arsenal as a player; as a manager, he walked into a burning building. It wasn't the easy choice to do either: neither was it to demand those infamous "non-negotiables" from Day 1. He has stuck to them religiously, upholding a work ethic that fans on the terraces demand. We've seen up close that anyone who doesn't offer the same won't survive: he has exceptionally high standards for the club.
It's curious that more supporters don't realise that. Especially when connection to the fans is central in All Or Nothing – from photographer Stuart MacFarlane's team talk before the North London Derby to Arteta continually reminding his players to draw from the crowd's energy. And when Arsenal fans eventually did start singing his name with the same fervour as Vieira's – the first time came away to Aston Villa in the final lap of last season – Arteta was asked how it felt (opens in new tab), given that some of these same people had pilloried him for much of his young managerial career. He implied that they were right to criticise.
"The more people we have onboard, the better," the Spaniard said after the Villa win, when a simple, "see, I bloody told you so" would have equally sufficed. "[Arsenal's] history and tradition is to win all the time. That is the only thing that is acceptable and when you are sitting here or playing you have to accept that."
But perhaps more from his words, his creative pre-match chats or the insistence that the Gooner faithful are at the centre of everything, the most telling aspect in the documentary is the reaction to Aubameyang being placed on the naughty step. His best mate, Alexandre Lacazette, steps up to lead in his absence. Mohamed Elneny affirms, "the boss has balls", while Rob Holding nods. There are no gasps, no outcry. The squad back him 100% – and proceed to run through brick walls for the man.
When FFT chatted to Aaron Ramsdale earlier this year, the England keeper told us, "Obviously, we’ve had difficulties this season but [Arteta's] kept that away from the squad and allowed us to focus on the football." You'd forgive the dressing room for being polarised over it – especially given those aforementioned eighth places. The dropping seemed to galvanise the squad more, however.
Fans may not always have been sure of their manager but the players most certainly have. As the Gunners begin to pull ever more into a better direction, it's becoming clearer that Mikel Arteta is worthy of a little more credit than he's received – and as the flies on the wall can testify, everything he's done for the club is in its best interest. Perhaps next time Arsenal play Crystal Palace, it'll be his name sung louder than Patrick Vieira's.
Arsenal transfer stories
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has declared that the Gunners aren't finished with their spending this summer.
Lucas Paqueta has been heavily rumoured as a target in the centre of midfield, as has Youri Tielemans of Leicester City. Arthur Melo has been touted, too, though new signing Oleksandr Zinchenko – who says its his dream come true to join his boyhood club – can play in midfield as well. N'Golo Kante has also been linked.
A big-money winger seemingly remains the last piece of the puzzle for the Gunners, while Gabriel Jesus' agent has revealed other sides were in for the striker and one wonderkid has departed the Emirates.
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