New Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has taken his first training sessions with his players ahead of the Gunners’ Premier League trip to AFC Bournemouth on Boxing Day. He ordered players in for a full training session the day after a top-flight game – no time for rest for these under-performing stars.
And supporters will be hoping that the Spanish coach — who has taken over control from interim boss Freddie Ljungberg in the wake of the dismissal of Unai Emery — can lift the spirits in the camp following a dismal run and period of uncertainty both on and off the pitch.
Yet Ljungberg managed to steer his charges to a 0-0 draw and a point — with a clean sheet coming as an added bonus for sure — against Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday and he did so by using youngsters such as Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Gabriel Martinelli. It meant there was no room for established stars such as Alex Lacazette — left on the bench until late on in the game — and Mesut Ozil, who was left out entirely.
The draw left Ljungberg with a record as boss that includes just one win — a 3-1 victory at West Ham United — as well as draws at Norwich City and Standard Liege (in the Europa League) and a 3-0 defeat at home to Manchester City.
Now it falls to former Arsenal midfielder Arteta, who joined the Gunners after a role as No.2 to Pepe Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium. to stamp his mark on the squad and he will do that for the first time of asking against the Cherries.
He managed to have a brief word with his new players before the game against the Toffees and central defender Calum Chambers has revealed what he said. Speaking to the club’s official website, former Southampton ace Chambers said:
“He just wanted us to be brave, take responsibility and for us to work hard for each other.
“Those were the messages from him and I feel we did that against Everton. Now there’s more. We’ll be at the training ground and there’s a lot more we can work on with his philosophy and the things he wants to bring to the team. I’m sure we’ll be working hard on that.”
Meanwhile, Chambers says he is excited at the prospect of growing as a player and with his team under the new era of Arteta as boss — and maturing under his stewardship.
Arsenal face both Chelsea and then Manchester United at the Emirate Stadium over the holiday period before hosting Leeds United in the third round of the FA Cup. And Chambers added:
“I think everyone’s excited. Freddie’s been really good. He’s been getting his messages across. Mikel came and gave us a talk before the game so everyone’s really excited to work with him.”