Mikel Arteta had ample reasons to wear a wide smile on Saturday as his Arsenal squad celebrated a resounding 4-0 victory against Bournemouth.
The match saw Kai Havertz notch his first goal from the penalty spot, but the cherry on top was Manchester City’s surprise 2-1 defeat at the hands of Wolves, a boost to Arsenal’s Premier League title aspirations.
However, an unexpected twist unfolded on the north side of London, where Liverpool controversially lost to Tottenham Hotspur.
While Jurgen Klopp’s team showcased their title potential, the triumph of their arch-rivals was hardly celebrated by Arteta, highlighting the fierce competition in the city.
What likely pleased Arteta even more were the remarks made by Bournemouth’s manager, Andoni Iraola.
In the post-match press conference, Iraola acknowledged Arsenal’s prowess out of possession, specifically praising Martin Odegaard, Kai Havertz, and Declan Rice.
He emphasized their excellence in duels and second balls, which bolstered the team’s ability to regain possession and launch attacks from there.
Arteta’s obsession with winning duels has been well-documented, particularly in Arsenal’s ‘All or Nothing’ documentary released last year.
He vividly recalled his frustration following the club’s shocking FA Cup third-round loss to Nottingham Forest in the 2021/22 season.
In a fiery outburst, Arteta exclaimed, “I accept losing guys, I accept losing.
I don’t accept these f standards.” He demanded more than just attitude, courage, and effort, insisting on higher standards.
Since that memorable evening at the City Ground, Arsenal’s performance has improved significantly.
It’s challenging to pinpoint many instances in the past 18 months where Arteta felt the need for such a furious behind-the-scenes rebuke.
Having assembled a midfield trio for a combined £200 million in transfer fees, Arteta’s wish has materialized.
Iraola’s praise of Odegaard, Rice, and Havertz reflects the manager’s vision.
Now, it falls on this trio to maintain the high standards Arteta demands, ensuring that Arsenal’s ascent continues unabated.