Mikel Arteta has made peace with Arsenal legends Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp. The Invincibles duo have been highly critical of the current Gunners regime and manager, particularly last year when publicly supporting a proposed takeover by Spotify CEO Daniel Ek.
And after signing a new three year deal that keep hims in the Emirates hot seat until June 2025, Arteta spoke about his long battle to keep the ‘poison’ out of the club. It is a fight that he is increasingly optimistic that he is winning as his young Gunners move ever closer to nailing down fourth place – and Champions League football next term.
His bullish mood follows Henry and Bergkamp attending the home win over Manchester United last month and spending time post-match chatting to Arsenal’s England aces Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe. Ahead of the visit of relegation-battlers Leeds to the Emirates this afternoon, Arteta, at the Arsenal helm since December 2019, declared: “There are many, many more positives than negatives.
“I always said we have a great example with our ex-players – and what happened a few weeks ago at the Emirates, it was emotional, natural and organic.
“Now I think, hopefully, they have realised that anyone who wants to contribute to what we’re doing, genuinely contribute, with advice or support or whatever, he’s more than welcome to come. And anyone that wants to poison the club…he’s going to be very far away from the club.”
Of course, Arteta has had to remove troublemakers inside the dressing room along the way, too. But with Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng finally banished for good, Saka and Co are flying high and on course to win the top-four race.
And their Spanish boss, 40, positively loves the idea that they might benefit from tips and advice from ex-Gunners who have been there and done it. Utilising the wisdom and knowledge of those who were such a major part of Arsenal’s glorious, glittering past makes perfect sense, according to Arteta.
Indeed, he reckons the club’s rich history can give his blossoming outfit, who started the weekend two points clear of Tottenham in the race for fourth place, a significant edge moving forward.
So what chance of Arteta’s class of 2022 writing their own history this by securing Champions League qualification – for the first time in five years – at the expense of their fiercest rivals?
Optimistic Arteta said: “It’s phenomenal – all those experiences and how they won it. How they were invincible. For this generation, it would be something incredible and, hopefully, we can do it naturally – and with everybody feeling in the right place.”
Before then Arsenal must take care of business against struggling Leeds.
And Arteta is gearing up for another tricky afternoon. He said: “It’s going to be really tough. The players are aware of that – and know what to expect on Sunday.”