Mikel Arteta's White-Knuckle Ride At Arsenal Shows Shades Of Downing Street Chaos

Are there parallels between the Spaniard and the Prime Minister?
12:50, 22 Apr 2022

Mikel Arteta was appointed Arsenal manager eight days after Boris Johnson won the most recent general election. Take away their vastly differing hairstyles and there are a surprising number of similarities between the two men.

Arteta’s concrete-set, jet black do stubbornly refuses to turn grey despite the monstrous stress involved trying to turn around a faded giant of a football team. BoJo’s wild wisps suggest a man not quite in control of his life who also treats his hair like tax - no cutting.

There are more parallels when it comes to their performance on the job since December 2019. Both have been handed an easy ride despite numerous failings.

Whether it’s illegal lockdown parties or getting Arsenal back into the Champions League, nothing sticks to these guys.

For thousands of fed-up Gooners, there’s no debate about what’s more important and right now they are hiding behind the sofa waiting to see if their exalted manager can secure a first top four finish in six years.

Should he do it, Arteta will be carried shoulder high along Holloway Road as though he has single-handedly brought peace to Ukraine.

This week Arsenal are brilliant, of course. They have stuffed Chelsea 4-2 away and every one of them looks a world beater. Only they don’t have to beat the world - only Manchester United and Tottenham yet they are making such hard work of it.

Man United do not even possess a full-time, permanent coach: just some German bloke on a short-term contract and no hope of getting the job permanently.

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The players are either disillusioned, disappointing or donkeys in the case of some of the defenders.

The club is about to appoint its third head coach since 2016 and start all over again on a massive rebuild job that rivals the Government’s bodged Levelling Up policy.

Tottenham are just getting going under Antonio Conte. The constantly seething Italian has only been in post since last November - a gnat’s lifespan in terms of putting title winning teams together.

It’s been on a plate for Arsenal all season. Yet still they are hovering just outside the hallowed places of the Premier League top four with just six games to play. Five in the case of Manchester United.

It’s an improvement on last season for sure but then it’s easy to achieve record economic growth rates when you’re coming from a low base. Johnson and his pal Rishi Sunak at the Treasury know that only too well.

Arteta has had three years under no real pressure to gently assemble a team of players that might just one day be capable of finishing above 16 other teams. It can’t be that hard surely?

Yet there have been twists and turmoil. Defeats and deflation. It was only on Tuesday that Arteta was staring at four reverses in a row for the first time since 1995 for a club which once bullied the whole of English football.

There will never be a better year for Arsenal to seize the moment. They have had no European football distractions whatsoever, unlike Spurs and Man United.

Arteta has had money to spend in the transfer market. He has ousted his bad boy captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to ensure a much more settled squad. He has had the precious gift of time to get on with his job.

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The swashbuckling manner in which his team set about Chelsea on Wednesday night was a joy to behold.

Emile-Smith Rowe in particular danced through Chelsea’s defenders most of the night. Blossoming star Bukayo Saka gave Chelsea left back Marcos Alonso a torrid time.

There was only one team in it from start to finish and the visiting fans lapped it up. But they must also be thinking why their team cannot play like this every week?

PM Johnson works in fits and starts too. The occasional nugget of sound thinking such as his surprising commitment to the environment interspersed with PR disasters.

For him it has been Partygate. For Arteta it was Crystal Palace, Southampton, Brighton.

Infuriatingly, in the afterglow of sticking four goals past Chelsea in midweek, Arteta would probably be voted most popular Arsenal manager of all time, when a closer examination of his time in charge leaves a lot to be desired.

Arsenal are 21/20 to beat Manchester United with Betfred*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

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