Six Things We Learnt From All or Nothing: Arsenal With 'Freak' Mikel Arteta

The new series is out today!
08:35, 04 Aug 2022

The first three episodes of Arsenal’s long-awaited All or Nothing series are out and The Sportsman have been privileged to gain a sneak peak at the series, thanks to those kind folk at Amazon. Here’s six things we learnt from watching the first few episodes with a few of our favourite quotes. Warning - there are some spoilers ahead. 

Bukayo Saka redemption and fame

Bukayo Saka’s rise to superstardom was almost unheard of. Having shone for Arsenal, he became a key figure for England at Euro 2020, which culminated in a penalty shootout against Italy in the final. The teenager stepped up to take a crucial penalty, missed and suffered racist abuse in the aftermath. 

The first episode helps portray his return to his club, his struggles with fame and how he got back to his best. He reads a wall of supportive messages fans left, and is cheered onto the pitch in the curtain raiser against Brentford, before getting his first goal in the North London Derby. 

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Thierry Henry, a key figure throughout says: “If you step [up] to take a penalty, you are a hero for me. Obviously if you score it is better. For me, what he is doing right now and how humble he is, it is great because he is from the academy so he is Arsenal through and through. But people do not realise the pressure of being ‘the one that is going to make it.’ But then people do not care how you feel as a human being. This is where it becomes difficult.” 

Mikel Arteta flounders after shocking start 

Arsenal had a dismal start to the 2021/22 campaign, losing their first three games to Brentford, Chelsea and Man City and manager Mikel Arteta came under all sorts of pressure from critics who believed he was out of his depth. 

“We are bottom of the league. 0 goals. Nine conceded. It’s the biggest challenge that I faced since I joined the club,” the Spanish boss reflects. “In difficult moments you question yourself. You have fears. Those things happen in your mind. Can I turn it around? Do I have the energy to go back tomorrow and transmit what I have to transmit? How are we going to do it? Are people going to believe in what we are doing? You need the right people around you to lift, to support you when you are having difficulties. ”

The club recovered to beat Norwich City 1-0 in a crucial encounter, which got their season up and running, while Arteta remains in charge heading into the new campaign.

Players show huge respect to their boss

If there were any doubts about Areteta as a boss, then they are alleviated by the sheer amount of respect he garners from his young squad. His pre-match drawing may be questionable - there’s a Neil Buchanan moment where he draws a heart and a brain on a flip-pad - but his words clearly resonate with his team. 

Saka: “From the moment he came in I know he was going to be a top manager. Tactically he is so good. The details he gives us helps us so much.”

Granit Xhaka: “He is very very special. I’ve had a lot of coaches, but he is a freak, but in a positive way. Because he sees details, I don’t think I’ve had a coach that can see that.”

Martin Odegaard: “The way he connects the team and the environment he creates here I think is brilliant.”

Aaron Ramsdale rises to the top

The signing of Aaron Ramsdale was heavily criticised by the wider footballing public given he joined off the back of two consecutive relegations, but after three consecutive defeats, he was made Arsenal’s number one. Arteta never doubted his ability and his family showed a huge level of support during that first start and clean sheet against Norwich. 

“I give my mum a little wave and I know I’m making them proud so it's just great to have their backing because I know if I’ve done well, if I’ve done badly, my dad will definitely tell me,” the England man explains. 

His dad in particular is a brilliant character - summed up by him saying “f*ck me he’s fucking starting” after being handed a team sheet. His face lights up as he sees him on the front of the programme, and there’s a real heartwarming feel as we understand the people behind these footballers. 

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Club photographer Stuart MacFarlane gives NLD team talk

One of the most remarkable moments in the series is when Arteta, just minutes before the North London Derby, gets Stuart MacFarlane to do the final team talk. He has worked for Arsenal for 30 years and delivered an inspirational speech that saw the Gunners romp into a 3-0 lead by half-time. 

“It’s tough,” he begins. “This is my club. I f*cking love this football club. I f*cking love all of you. In 30 years, I’ve photographed some unbelievable players, world class players and some great teams. I look at you lot. This is a great team. I’ve been a fan all my life. This is what we have to do. We have to go out and win. This is me, I’m a fan, this lot outside, they would do anything to f*cking win today. Look at them, first f*cking tackle - listen to the crowd. They will be on you straight away. Win every tackle. When you score, you look in their faces, look at the emotion, look how much they love you. And show them how much you love them. Okay?”

Thierry Henry is an icon

If we didn’t know it already, Henry delivers stirring speeches throughout to establish just how much this club means to him. One of his best comes at the very start, during that sticky run of results. 

“It’s unfair to compare eras. It is difficult to play the same way. Arsenal is evolving but along the way do not lose what made you. People talk about restoring the Arsenal DNA. The Arsenal DNA is to win. To compete to win. I’m talking about the attitude and the mentality. How you should walk, and run and breathe and think and sleep and eat. Top four.”

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