Arsenal‘s technical director Edu sat with the media during the club’s US tour to provide some much welcome insight into the ongoing project in north London, some of the challenges he’s faced since stepping into his role, his personal recruitment process and more.
The Brazilian, a two-time Premier League winner with the Gunners during his playing days, has faced much criticism since taking on the role in the summer of 2019. But given the improvements visible on the pitch during the past 18 months or so, the club’s faithful are starting to believe they’re on the cusp of restoring their status as one of England’s elite.
Here are five reasons Edu and Mikel Arteta deserve the opportunity to finish the work they’ve started at the Emirates Stadium.
Despite the panic that ensued after the Gunners’ worrying start to the 2021/22 season, those within the walls of the club’s London Colney training facility remained calm, with Edu publicly calling on the fans to be patient and reserve their judgement on the side until they had something close to their best XI available – a huge upturn in results was to follow.
Whether you agree or disagree with Arsenal’s methods, it’s clear they’re sticking to a blueprint created in collaboration between the manager and his technical director. Even when there’s a temptation to veer away from it, the pair remain confident their original plan needs to be stuck to if they’re to steer this juggernaut of a football club back on course.
It’s not always been clear to see and the truth is it took an awful lot of recruitment to get there, but ‘Arteta-ball’ is finally here.
The high-intensity game with an emphasis on an aggressive pressing style has seen the Gunners control far more football matches. Mobility and versatility are two of the key attributes Arteta values most and that’s apparent when you assess the summer signings the club have made so far. Getting a goalkeeper who could distribute the ball effectively was key, as was bringing in centre-backs capable of covering ground quickly and allowing the team to play with a much higher defensive line.
Arsenal have spent some serious money in the past two summers, but more importantly, they’ve spent it well.
There’s been a much more holistic approach to recruitment, which as Edu eluded to in a recent interview, involves identifying exactly how a player will fit into the side using data and in-depth analysis, getting to know the player, their agent and their family in order to minimise the risk of signing disruptive characters.
There is also a consideration for a player’s future sell-on-value to try and avoid being stuck with ‘deadwood’ – a problem that’s held the Gunners back for years.
There’s a common misconception out there that Arsenal’s improvement on the pitch began a month into last season, but the truth is the Gunners were much improved in the second half of the 2020/21 campaign too.
The team’s progress has been steady for over 18 months now and so this isn’t just a flash in the pan. The consistency levels still aren’t where they need to be and at times a lack of depth has cost them, but after back-to-back eighth-place finishes, coming fifth and narrowly missing out on Champions League qualification signifies movement in the right direction.
Prior to last season, when visiting Emirates Stadium there was a feeling that a touch of apathy had begun creeping into the fans’ mindset given the mediocre results and the subsequent struggle to see a way forward.
However, despite some noise on social media following defeats, you only needed to spend one afternoon at the home of the Gunners last season to feel the connection between the fans and this young and exciting team building. Chants of ‘We’ve got Super Mik Arteta’ could be heard constantly and despite the disappointing end to the campaign, from those in attendance, the support never waned.