Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says he was able to learn from Tottenham counterpart Jose Mourinho by watching the club’s “very interesting” all-access television documentary.
Arteta’s Arsenal take on Spurs in the north London derby on Sunday, live on Sky Sports, with Mourinho’s side having begun the weekend at the top of the Premier League table.
The Amazon Prime documentary followed Tottenham during the 2019-20 season, during which Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino as Spurs boss, before guiding them to a sixth-placed finish.
“Very interesting,” Arteta said after confirming he had watched the series. “It is great to see the inside of other football clubs, other ideas, other coaches, other organisations.
“I like to see that – I do that with other sports as well because there are a lot of things you can take, and as well a manager like Mourinho that has been in many different countries, in all of them he has been successful so there is a why to that.
“There are some important moments in that documentary when you can pick some relevant things of why he is getting the success that he is getting.”
Arteta was coached by Mourinho as a member of Barcelona’s B team in the early stages of his managerial career, before coming up against the Portuguese’s sides on numerous occasions in the Premier League.
Before being appointed Arsenal boss last December – just a month after Mourinho took over at Spurs – Arteta had served as assistant coach at Manchester City under fellow Spaniard Pep Guardiola, who has held a long-running rivalry with Mourinho dating back to their days as managerial adversaries in La Liga.
Asked whether ruthlessness is a quality he has picked up from the experienced duo, Arteta explained some of the key elements of Mourinho’s work that have impressed him.
He said: “Normally I like two things. First of all, the head coach, the manager, whoever it is, what he needs to create is a level of engagement with the players and the club and fans, and a level of belief that what his ideas are they get a big buy in to him. If you don’t get that, you won’t last long.
“Mourinho has something really special, that whatever he wants to get into the football club, he manages to do it and he believes that in a way that players at the end they execute what he wants to do. And whoever doesn’t do it is not part of that. When I talk about being ruthless it is not only on the pitch but as well with some decisions that you have to make.
“And the second one I would say is how you navigate some difficult moments. All these managers have had difficult moments. I have been part of a coaching staff with difficult moments. The important point is how you react in difficult moments and how the club fans react in difficult moments.”
Does Arteta need to change approach at Arsenal?
Daniel Podence’s smartly-taken goal for Wolves at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday consigned Arsenal to their fourth defeat in six Premier League games. The Gunners sit 14th in the table, sandwiched between Newcastle and Crystal Palace. It is their worst start to a season in almost 40 years.
The optimism generated by their FA Cup triumph in August has faded and Mikel Arteta finds himself under pressure. He promised high-intensity, attacking football when he arrived last year. But recent displays in the Premier League have been sluggish and sterile.
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The Europa League has offered some relief. Arsenal’s second string played with refreshing verve in Thursday night’s 4-1 win over Rapid Vienna at the Emirates Stadium. But Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Wolves typified Arsenal’s problems against tougher opposition.
Arsenal, a side known in years gone by for their slick, passing football, looked devoid of creativity and lacking in inspiration, reduced instead to aiming a barrage of 35 crosses at a visibly frustrated Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – only three of which were successful.
It made for dire viewing – and not for the first time this season. Arsenal have scored just 10 goals in 10 Premier League games so far. Only West Brom, Burnley and Sheffield United – the current bottom three – have scored fewer. Arsenal rank 17th for shots too.
It should be remembered that Arteta inherited a huge task when he succeeded Unai Emery last December. It will take more than two transfer windows to transform Arsenal’s bloated squad. But the recent issues are not just down to personnel.
Arteta’s approach merits scrutiny too.
Read the full feature here.
Has Tottenham’s mentality changed?
“We were so upset every time we listened to some people say bad things about the Spurs mentality,” said Mauricio Pochettino as he reflected on his time in charge of Tottenham during his guest appearance on Monday Night Football last month.
The 48-year-old went a long way to changing perceptions of Spurs during his five-and-a-half-year tenure in north London, guiding the club to four consecutive Champions League finishes and adding steel and substance to a side traditionally known for its flakiness.
Still, though, there remained a lingering sense that Spurs were prone to falling at the final hurdle. Title challenges, although odds-defying in the first place, faltered at key moments. Trophies continued to elude them. The mental blocks of the past still seemed to be in place.
Jose Mourinho was brought in to change that, to turn Spurs into winners, and recent evidence – in the Premier League, at least – hints at progress.
Spurs went top for the first time since 2014 with their defensively disciplined and ruthlessly efficient 2-0 win over Manchester City last month. They then ensured they stayed there by grinding out a goalless draw with Chelsea a week later.
The playing style has changed. It is less expansive and more defensively minded than Spurs traditionalists might like and that remains a bone of contention for some. But the debate over Mourinho’s methods has gone quiet lately.
It is difficult to argue with recent results, after all, especially when the side is demonstrating the kind of mental fortitude and steely ambition that supporters have long craved.
Read the full feature here.
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