Mikel Arteta savours reunion with Carlo Ancelotti as Arsenal host his old club Everton in the Premier League
- Arsenal host Everton at the Emirates on Sunday for a Premier League clash
- Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta played for the Toffees and the Gunners in his time
- The last time these two teams met, Carlo Ancelotti had just been appointed
A week is a long time in football, so the saying goes and so much has happened at Arsenal since Mikel Arteta was appointed that two months feels like eight to the Spaniard.
He welcomes his old club Everton to his new managerial home today in a fixture that is the reverse of the first game Arsenal played following his appointment.
Arteta was on a watching brief on that December day at Goodison Park, which was also the day that Carlo Ancelotti was confirmed as Marco Silva’s Everton successor.
Mikel Arteta is looking forward to facing his former team Everton in Sunday’s league game
Carlo Ancelotti had just been named Everton boss when these two teams last met
Plenty has happened at both resurgent clubs since then. Ancelotti has won five of his eight league games in charge, a run that has lifted the Toffees up from 15th up to 10th.
Arsenal’s improvement has not been reflected as dramatically in their league position — they have moved up just one place.
But that they are heading in the right direction is not in doubt. Arsenal are more organised and resilient, reflected in the significant fall in their ‘shots against’ count and three clean sheets in a row.
Arteta’s training ground work on introducing patterns of play is starting to pay off and, as a result, previously much-maligned figures such as David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka are now better-placed to show their worth in a team with more structure. Looking back on his Goodison Park return, Arteta (below) said: ‘I played there seven years. I still have some great memories, great friends and people that I love a lot. It was always special for me to play [there] and I’m really looking forward to it.
Arsenal are certainly heading in the right direction since Arteta’s appointment in December
‘It was weird because when I was appointed manager, I had to go to Goodison and Carlo [Ancelotti] was appointed that day I think.
‘We shared some comments on the day. We have a lot of things to improve and it feels like it was eight months ago but it was not that far away!’
When asked what has pleased him the most since that day at Goodison Park, Arteta said: ‘Honestly, we feel as staff that the players are willing, are behind us and want to follow us.
‘You try and convince them about what we are trying to do and they are doing everything they can to always try and execute what we are doing, and the energy we have together is good so I am happy.
Everton have also been on the way up, already gaining five places since Ancelotti joined
‘We have a long way to go in this process, to develop a lot of things that I want to implement.
‘We have to maintain the things we do good and maybe then we have little margins of improvement that we have to aim to achieve.
‘The attitude I want the players to play with is to confront the opponent. It does not matter where we play, we have to go there and we have to face them.
‘We have to feel that we are ready to go, not just when we have the ball but when we don’t have it as well, with the same attitude and aggression.
Previously maligned figures like David Luiz are now better-placed to shine under Arteta
For all the signs of progress, five draws in Arteta’s eight league games is a big reason why they remain mid-table.
The Spaniard continued: ‘Every game that we play is going to have a big impact on the table.
‘The home form is going to be vital if we want to achieve anything at the end of the season.’
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