Cesc Fabregas insists the belief Mikel Arteta has instilled at Arsenal gives the club a genuine shot at Premier League title glory – though Gary Neville has issued a severe warning about the threat of Manchester City.
The Gunners were forced to dig deep to claim a 3-2 win over Manchester United on Sunday. Finding themselves 1-0 down, they fought back to lead 2-1, only for United to peg back them back again. With the match heading for deadlock, an instintive Eddie Nketiah finish in the closing stages secured the win.
It means Arsenal won for the 16th time in 19 games this season. And more importantly, it restores their advantage at the top to five points.
The victory certainly pleased Arteta as he revealed what he loved the most about the success over Erik ten Hag’s side.
Arsenal are now regarded by many as title favourites, and Fabregas reckons Arteta deserves all the credit for changing perceptions at Emirates Stadium.
“He’s done a fantastic job,” Fabregas told Sky Sports. “We saw in the documentary they did; the way he pushed players, the way he understands players.
“We were talking before about the project; Arsenal when they hired Mikel he hadn’t coached anyone before, he was the assistant to Pep [Guardiola]… when you’re the main guy you need to do everything.
“I was lucky enough to be at the training ground recently, it felt like I was never there before because everything changed so much.
“The manager of the training ground told me it’s 95 per cent Mikel, who’s changed the whole thing.
“He’s changed everything. The perception of the club over the last few years, a lot of positive messages around the training ground, much bigger facilities, better equipment, the pitches, you name it.”
Gary Neville issues bleak Arsenal title verdict
“I think as well at the entrance you have a symbol of an empty Premier League trophy and he wants to show the message ‘guys, we just need to put it in there.’
“Every day the players go in there, they see it without it only being the symbol so it’s like a message and inspiration every day to go there and prove yourself that you want to put the Premier League there.
“He’s changed the mentality of the club since Arsene [Wenger] left and it’s fantastic what he’s done.”
Despite Fabregas’ optimism around Arteta and what he has done for Arsenal, Gary Neville isn’t entirely convinced.
And he is convinced their title dreams will be ruined by Manchester City, who he thinks will ultimately grind them down.
“I don’t see them going on to win the league,” Neville told Sky Sports. “Manchester City for me will win the league because I think Manchester City have got a special run in them.
“I think at a point in the season Arsenal will lose one or two matches and City will be right on their shoulders and it will become very difficult for them.
“But they could win the league and to say that they could; I thought they’d be nowhere near winning the league, Arsenal. I can’t believe they’re in the chat. The fact that they are in the chat for winning the league is incredible.
“It’s not a negative thing for me to say I think City will win the league – we all said that at the start of the season – and I think City will hunt them down.
“But they’re in with a shout and that’s unbelievable for Mikel Arteta. I was really worried about him at the end of last season.”
Leandro Trossard earns Fabregas praise
Having amassed 50 points at the halfway stage, you can see where Arsenal’s record stands against previous records here.
Fabregas believes new signing Leandro Trossard – who signed in a £27m deal from Brighton on Friday – can give Arsenal another exciting option.
The Gunners moved for the Belgian after missing out on Mykhaylo Mudryk, who switched to Chelsea instead.
And with both players debuting this weekend, Fabregas reckons Arsenal have landed on a “really good player”.
He completed just two dribbles and four passes after his 82nd-minute introduction. But Fabregas has seen enough from him at his time with Brighton to know Arsenal have landed a special player.
Asked for his opinion on him, he gushed: “I think Trossard is a really good player. And he’s better than at the moment what people think he is,” he said.
“He showed it at Brighton and he showed it today for a couple of minutes. He’s different to what they’ve got. He plays between the lines, he can score goals, play in different positions up front.”