Mikel Arteta came onto the scene as Arsenal manager in December 2019 following the dismissal of Unai Emery.
Freddie Ljungberg stepped up from his under-23 role at Hale End and was appointed as caretaker-manager, picking up from where Emery had left off.
Following in the same run of unfortunate form, the two-time Premier League winner won just one of his six games in charge, signalling for the appointment of a new head coach.
Ljungberg handed the reins over to Arteta after Pep Guardiola’s former assistant coach left Manchester City mid-season in search of a new challenge.
There was an aurora of excitement and thrill in the air when Arteta was announced, having played an instrumental role in the City’s 100-point Premier League season.
Arteta’s first clash as Arsenal head coach was away to Bournemouth on Boxing Day, which saw Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang score a second-half equaliser to salvage a 1-1 draw.
Since making his debut as Gunners boss, Arteta has nursed a rollercoaster of challenges, leading Arsenal out on 58 occasions and earning 27 wins.
The Spaniard’s side has since continued to evolve and mould around Arteta’s philosophies and principles he is implementing at the club, with many new faces now walking through the door at the Emirates.
With the likes of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Mesut Ozil now a thing of the past, here is a look at Arteta’s first starting 11 and what happened next.
Goalkeeper – Leno
Bernd Leno started between the sticks for the Gunners in Arteta’s maiden game in charge, benching Emiliano Martinez.
Despite not playing a single minute for Arsenal that season aside from the FA Cup, Martinez went on to play a pivotal role in the Gunners’ 2-1 triumph over Chelsea in the final.
The Argentinian’s exceptional performances had fans scratching their heads wondering how their club had not made better use of him. Despite his valiant efforts between the sticks for Arsenal, Martinez left the Gunners that same summer for Aston Villa in a shrewd deal worth £16million in search of first-team football.
Meanwhile, Leno remains with Arsenal – although has been linked with a move this summer – and travelled with Germany to Euro 2020 as back-up to Manuel Neuer.
Defenders – Maitland Niles, Luiz, Sokratis (Mustafi), Saka
Sokratis started under Arteta in his first game as Arsenal manager and went on to make just ten more appearances for the club before eventually leaving in January 2021 for Olympiacos on a free transfer.
The 33-year-old centre-half has played 23 times for the Greek side since his arrival earlier this year before winning the Greece Super League by a resounding 26 points.
David Luiz also comprised Arteta’s defence in his first game in charge and, like Martinez, went on to play a pivotal role in Arsenal’s FA Cup glory over Chelsea in 2020.
The Brazilian was instrumental to Arteta’s switch in system in the FA Cup final as he sat resolutely in the middle of the back three, resurrecting his prime years under Antonio Conte against his former club. He departed the club this summer when his contract expired.
Shrokdan Mustafi featured on the bench before being brought on for Sokratis in the 77th minute.
The 2014 Germany World Cup winner remained at Arsenal until returning to his boyhood club, Schalke, on a free transfer in a bid to save the club from relegation. However, the 29-year-old defender is now a free agent having been released by the club following relegation into 2. Bundesliga.
Bukayo Saka was also included on the left of the back four, and his since gone on to become an Arsenal regular, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles spent time on loan at West Brom last season and his future remains uncertain.
Midfielders – Torreira, Xhaka, Ozil (J. Willock)
Come the end of the summer transfer window, Arsenal may find themselves without either of these four midfielders.
The Telegraph reported in May 2021 that Newcastle United are preparing a £20m bid for Willock’s signature following his impressive loan spell at the Magpies.
The 21-year-old midfielder featured 14 times in the Premier League for Newcastle scoring eight goals, seven of which came in successive appearances.
Willock went on to secure the Magpies Premier League safety and won the May 2021 Premier League Player of the Month award.
Ozil departed from the Emirates in January 2021 on a free transfer to Fenerbahce and has since made 11 appearances for the Turkish outfit, recording one assist.
Lucas Torreira joined Atletico Madrid on a season-long loan in October 2020, amid claims the Uruguayan midfielder wants to leave north London.
The 25-year-old’s father spoke to TyC SPorts (via Evening Standard) in April 2021 and said his son wants to join childhood club, Boca Juniors.
Torriera’s father said: “We want to resolve Arsenal’s departure first and then sit down with Boca. If they believe it is convenient that Lucas is the player, they will exhaust the resources to reach an agreement.
“It is obvious that Boca will have to spend, Arsenal will want something in return. But it is not that Lucas is going to lose value by coming to Boca.”
Granit Xhaka also looks to be edging ever closer to a move away from the Emirates. football.london understands that AS Roma are close to signing the 28-year-old midfielder for a fee of £20m, although Juventus have been credited with showing an interest in recent days.
Attackers – Nelson (Pepe), Aubameyang, Lacazette
The first goalscorer and captain of Arteta’s tenure at Arsenal was Aubameyang, who has gone to become one of the Spanish manager’s most reliable players at the club.
The 32-year-old striker, renowned for his electrifying pace, has scored 31 goals in 61 appearances while playing under Arteta, while also recording six assists.
Aubameyang has two years remaining on his current deal at the Emirates, having signed a new contract with the club in January 2021. The Gabon international credited Arteta for his reason behind extending his stay.
Alexandre Lacazette is entering the final year of his contract at Arsenal, meanwhile, Reiss Nelson’s ends in 2023 and Nicolas Pepe’s ends in 2024.
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Source by Football London