Is Mikel Arteta just a George Graham in disguise?

Unless you are old enough to remember first half of 1940s, it’s very likely that you live in the worst era of your life. Era of pandemic, lack of trust, paranoia, fake news, inflation of informations, Spuds managed by Mourinho finishing weekend as top of the table…all happening live and at neck-breaking speed. 

Given all that, it’s perfectly logical to presume we have been sucked into a worm-hole due to which Multiverse has been going to compression. It’s only matter of time when we will see a T-Rex becoming a goalkeeping coach at Napoli where his great-great-great-great-great-grandson David Ospina plays, late Herbert Chapman becoming a pundit at Match of the Day, late Michael Jackson winning the U.S. Presidential election or aliens from Roswell acting like VAR and – instead of red cards – making abductions of players who commit a violent conduct. 

Or even more incredible – that Mikel Arteta, who was supposed to be our own bridge between Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola, is actually a George Graham v2.0. 

You don’t believe me, right? 

Well, listen to this:

In his first (full) season Arteta has managed Arsenal through nine league games. We have won four, drawn one and lost four – 13 points, nine goals for and 10 against. 

In his first season, Graham had picked 12 points in his first nine league games. We won three, drew three and lost three while scoring mere six goals and conceding five. Two of those three victories were against Manchester United (at Highbury) and Sheffield (Wednesday, though). In our third league game we lost to Liverpool away. At home, we won our first two league games only to fail to score in the next two. 

See the source image

After a roller-coaster of a season, we finished fourth, behind eventual champions Everton, runners-up Liverpool and, gulp, Spuds but ended a trophy drought by winning League Cup. 

Oh, and you know what happened in the League Cup Final against Liverpool? 

They scored first before our Charlie Nicholas scored a brace to win us a cup at Wembley. 

Sounds familiar? 

You know, Aubameyang scoring a brace after Pulisic’s opener. 

If that’s not enough for you, take a look at few other things. 

Before Graham took over, Arsenal had been going through a barren spell in terms of league titles. We hadn’t won the league since Graham’s playing days – 1970-71. As you probably know, we won the league at White Hart Lane, on the last day of the season.

So, Arsenal had gone through 15 full seasons without winning the league between 1971 and Graham’s first season in charge. Arteta took over halfway through our 16th barren season, Graham was appointed at the start of our 16th. 

Graham’s first season in charge was, as I’ve already written, a rollercoaster. Our team wasn’t the most prolific (to put it mildly) but our defence was the second best in the league (only Everton shipped fewer goals). Our attack had just one scorer with double digits (Martin Hayes 19) so no wonder we had only seventh best attack in the league. 

Two years later, Arsenal won the league in what will probably remain the most exciting title decider of all times. 

What is, exactly, my point? 

Arsenal put trust in George Graham because he was obviously changing something in the club that had been in the mud of mediocrity for over a decade. He restored defensive solidity and brought in talented youngsters. He gave the keys of the defence to a young lad with No.6 on his back.

Now, Arsenal have put trust in Mikel Arteta, also a former Arsenal man, to steady our ship and then turn it into a battleship “Arsenal”. 

In the era of neck-breaking speed in which months have become hours and years have become months, a few years in mediocrecy equals a decade from the old days. Arsenal have slipped out of Top 4 in 2016-17 and out of Top 6 last season. We have had quite a few poor transfer decisions in the same period despite increased transfer budget and right now, we are in Top 4…of the bottom half of the table! 

I won’t say Arteta will repeat Graham’s feat (or his betrayal from the late ‘90s) but maybe we are yet to find out how his meal looks like. It may not have the best look or, indeed, smell right now but we have to be patient until we hear the beep from the oven.

By Admir

It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll) – YouTube

39 thoughts on “Is Mikel Arteta just a George Graham in disguise?

  • A masterpiece, Admir. Your usage of stats and facts is second to none. You know I support your overall conclusion and why would history not repeat itself? 🙂

  • I sincerely hope Mik is George 2.0.

    George took Boring Boring Arsenal to 2 league titles, 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cups, 1 European CWC. Not to be sniffed at.

    Of course there was that issue of ‘money resting in his account’ but let that not over-shadow his achievements.

  • Thank you, TA. 🙂

    I think that our current No. 6 has already taken the keys himself with his above-all-expectations performances.

    I’ve read a lot of insults at the expense of both our players and Arteta lately. Some of those were supported with arguments that contradict themselves. For instance, Pepe was largely written off by our fan-base for his (idiotic) head-butt (I instantly recalled of Gervinho’s grab of Joey Barton’s neck in 2011) while Tierney was praised for his passionate attempt to set things straight with the Leeds No.10…that would have led him to a three-match suspension if Xhaka had not stopped him. Xhaka is apparently another bad guy in the story for…saving Tierney from his own temper.

    Don’t get me wrong, I see KT as our best LB-potential since AC and of all three Arsenal players in this story (Pepe, Xhaka, Tierney), I like him the most but he almost did the same thing Pepe had done. Xhaka made the difference between two cases.

    Also, we could have easily won the game. Saka should have scored from that one-on-one (we have dropped at least six points so far due to poor conversion of big chances) and that handball by the Leeds defender would have been given as a penalty only a month or two ago.

    As for Arteta, his task is more difficult than Graham’s was. Less time, pandemic-made congested fixture list and a team full of players for which Arsenal are going to be the biggest club they will have played for. I do have a feeling that he wasn’t helped by his promotion from a head coach. His best work so far has been the one in actual coaching of players, handling their flaws and using their strengths within his system.

  • That was a fine piece of article and an even better summary of the Tierney-Xhaka-Pepe story, Admir. You should be writing posts more often.

    Thanks, TA, for the Monreal-link too. It was good to read him doing so fine.

  • Admir, I guess there is a fine balance between standing up for your team mate and pushing it too far. Xhaka did well to take him away but I also liked Tierney’s statement to not mess with us.

    I really cannot imagine anyone having a go at Arteta after all that he has already achieved. Let’s give him time is what I will keep saying for a long time.

  • Wanted to say how impressed I was with the BH national team goalkeeper the other day. He is already 30 and plays for some obscure club (Russian?) but I reckon he should be at a (sub)top club in one of the big competitions. Would also be a good nr2 for Arsenal, with the potential to put Leno under some good pressure to hold on to his position. What do you think?

  • Admir! There should be Pulitzers for blog articles. You had me right from the title! Clever, fun, and really well reasoned out. I didn’t follow footie then, but I know some of the Graham legend.

    T, I saw the Guardian article about Monreal yesterday. I told a friend that I miss that group. Santi, Olivier, Koscielny….. Nacho left without any fanfare, but what a servant to the team. I’d like to see those guys brought in for special tribute days at the stadium in the future.

    I even enjoyed the photo of Giroud before the beard. Too good looking for the chavs back then.

  • Can’t say I knew anything about George Graham than what I’ve read of him and the club’s accomplishments under his hand. But I’ve read enough, to know enough to grasp the parallels (and kudos Admir, for this piece). The similarities between both GG and MA are apropos. Arteta has already provided a glimpse of what is possible– from Spring through Summer.

    He took a team in disarray last December to winning an FA Cup while beating three top-4 clubs en route. Anyone who can disregard that progress less than 4 months later? Shouldn’t be upset their perspective might be dismissed. The club is one GA from lowest in the PL– at the 1/4-pole of the season. That alone should be cause for canonization.

    What Arsenal requires to become a top-6, then top-4 team is going to take more than 11 months. It’s going to take this season and possibly next for Arteta to remake this team. He’s barely been able to divest the club’s deadwood.

    Mikel Arteta to this juncture has done a great job.

    In the meantime? Maybe? Maybe, filtering out about 90% of the noise surrounding the club is the initial spam-filtering required. To quit wasting time and spending energy defending the against the witlessness of instant-gratification. If you’re not doing that? You’re reading and/or listening to far too much crap. If you’re wandering into sites where conversation isn’t possible? Or allowing Twitter to be more than a provider of headlines? You do yourself and your opinions a disservice.

    I have about 8 sources I trust to learn what I need to stay informed on the club.
    Half the world away– doesn’t mean listening to half the world.


  • Mystic Admir, really good read.

    This season Arsenal will be pants in the league but win a cup, the Europa would be perfect.

    Got some family stuff going down so I’m gonna be AWOL.

    Make Arsenal Great Again 😉

  • Ya’ know Kev? Those caps are red and white…
    Get ’em pretty cheap right now too.
    Best of with your fam stuff.

    Thursday, celebrating Thanksgiving Day over here– in difficult times.
    Tough year in so many regards. Yet, still much to be thankful for.
    This place and inhabitants among them.
    Thanks TA. 🙏🏼


  • J, they were great and loyal players for some while but the club has become more mercenary over the years…. Even though Wenger was never too sad to let players leave the club either.

  • Thanks JW. We will give Arteta time on BK. As said before, it is a restoration project and Mikel is ripping out floors and replacing them. It just takes a bit of time, we just have to look a little harder for moments and elements of quality and beauty.

    Thanks for your well composed comments.

  • Kevinski, hope the Fam situation is not too serious. Take good care mate and hope to see you soon here again. 🚖🚖🚖🚖🚖🚖🚖🚖🚖

  • Morning all – Don’t forget to make your predictions for this week.

    Here are the choices for this weekend,s games, there will be two extra points for the correct score between Chelsea v Tottenham.
    Everton v Leeds
    W.B.A. v Sheffield United
    Chelsea v Tottenham
    Arsenal v Wolves
    Southampton v Manchester U.
    Real Sociedad v Villarreal

  • Everton v Leeds: A
    W.B.A. v Sheffield United: D
    Chelsea v Tottenham: 1-1
    Arsenal v Wolves: H
    Southampton v Manchester U.: D
    Real Sociedad v Villarreal: H

  • Thank you Total, things are not as good as I would hope – but I soldier on regardless.

  • Here are my choices:-

    Everton v Leeds: H
    W.B.A. v Sheffield United: D
    Chelsea v Tottenham: A (1-2)
    Arsenal v Wolves: H
    Southampton v Manchester U.: D
    Real Sociedad v Villarreal: A

  • Please find the latest team news update from our medical team ahead of Thursday’s match against Molde.

    Updates since last match:

    Mohamed Elneny
    Tested positive for Covid-19 while on international duty with Egypt.
    Mo is asymptomatic and following protocols ahead of returning to training. He is unavailable for Thursday’s match.

    Sead Kolasinac
    Tested positive for Covid-19 while on international duty with Bosnia & Herzegovina.
    Sead is also currently asymptomatic and following protocols ahead of returning to training. He is unavailable for Thursday’s match.

    David Luiz
    In the travelling squad to Molde following birth of his daughter at the weekend.

    Thomas Partey
    Left thigh. Sustained strain to left thigh during Aston Villa (h) on November 8.
    Has not travelled to Molde and progressing rehabilitation.

    Bukayo Saka
    Right leg impact. Sustained dead leg during the match at Leeds.
    Has not travelled to Molde but will be available for Sunday’s match against Wolves.

    Left calf. Slight calf issue sustained during the match at Leeds.
    Has not travelled to Molde. Will continue to be assessed and aiming to be available for Sunday’s match against Wolves.

    Continued status on longer-term injuries:

    Pablo Mari
    Left ankle. Sustained significant sprain to ankle ligaments during Manchester City (a) on June 17.
    Pablo has progressed very well and is now integrating into full training.

    Gabriel Martinelli
    Left knee. Sustained injury during training on June 21.
    Gabi has also progressed very well is working well in group sessions and aims to integrate into squad sessions over the next two weeks.

    As part of Premier League protocol, all members of our first team squad and support staff continue to be regularly tested for COVID-19.

    Copyright 2020 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source.

  • TA

    Šehić – currently at Konyaspor, Turkey – is already 32. He has physical presence but I reckon he suffers from the same illness all Bosnial goalkeepers do – he is a shot-stopper at best. Our best goalkeeper is Asmir Begović but he wasn’t given a football education at Bosnia – he spent his formative years in Canada.

    You are probably not aware that Šehić has already hurt us big time.

    When he was at Qarabag, they played CL il2017-18 in a group with Chelsea, Roma and Atletico Madrid. His two heroic performances condemned Atletico to two draws – two only points Qarabag picked – and sent Los Colchoneros down to Europa League, right on our way, where they eventually eliminated us in the semifinals thus preventing us from winning the competition and returning to Champions League.

    Speaking of Atletico…

    You may recall how I wanted Simeone at our dugout. There were stats and facts that suggested Simeone is Atletico’s Graham (both managers are known for their defensive structure, both won the league with their respective clubs as a player and as a manager, both clubs had to wait 18 years between two titles, both titles were won on the last day on the venue of the title rivals after a negative result in the first half, both won European trophies with their respective clubs).

    Mikel is a strong cup manager – just like both Graham and Simeone were – and maybe EL is our chance for a glory this season. It’s a bit different than domestic cups as our tie with Olympiacos proved and both Milan and Spuds look like a tough nut to crack (plus whoever we get from CL group with Man U, Leipzig and PSG).

  • Great info on Šehić, Admir. I thought his positioning and decision making in the box was excellent. He made some great saves v The Netherlands last week.

    Yes you have always liked Simeone and I guess if he were a better cultural fit he would have been at Arsenal already. Cultural fit that is not with Wengerball but with Grahamball….. Yes I can see that happening. The good thing with Arteta is that he can really win any cup game it seems. And that goes a long way.

  • Thanks for the update on the players’ fitness, GN5.

    It looks like we will be experimenting with the midfield again, so I expect tomorrow’s game to be an open one.

  • Everton vs Leeds Utd… H
    West Brom vs Sheff U.. H
    Chelski vs Spud-dies… D. (2-2)
    The Arse vs Wolves…. H (Please)
    Seton vs Man Utd……. A
    Socieadad vs Villarreal.. D

    The fam is getting better and thanks guys…

    JW I’ll take one of those hats, I love upsetting people. 😉

  • Admir, I dream of Simeone at Arsenal, who I think of as a possible saviour if we ever enter a slow decline down the table. I’m sure most fans of all clubs view him in a similar way.

    Of course, it’s extremely unlikely we could secure him, but….. If threatened with the huge loss of value in their investment, I think the kroenkes woukd have no choice but to invest like never before in the best coach, and give him almost unlimited funds to buy. Like a temporary Man City situation to bring us back near the top. I think that’s possibly the way they would handle it, out of necessity, not love for the club. Right now if we were in that situation, it would be Simeone, behind him, maybe Conte. The other exciting managers like Nagelsman or Tuchel would be interesting at any point, but still not as assured to fix an ailing club with a new foundation needed.

    Still hopeful that we have the right guy already. He seems to understand, like Total said, this team definitely needs major restoration, not just a paint job. I will be patient, but I’ll always point out mistakes I view along the way, in a pretty fair manner. I do feel a genuine commitment from him though.

  • Hey, gentlemen! Great to know everyone is well and TA’s kept things ticking along. Great job! Quite a post you’ve put up there, Admir and well delivered (bit of an allegorical tone to it as well) and fine comments all round. I didn’t know much of GG, other than what one has read about him and how he has fashioned trophy wins for us, in the most unlikely circumstances, beating rivals when least expected and seeming to get his tactics right when it matters most.

    I’d take a GG in an Arteta, at this time; he just needs to get the forwards to come up with the goals (1 nil, it doesn’t matter) to get us the wins.

    Not been in on the blogs for some days now, but from the comments gleaned from mates in Nigeria who are gooners, it is fair to say most Arsenal fan sites would be having a meltdown now, after that performance at Leeds; probably, calling our players (and the Manager) names and seeking to have Pepe play in the reserves. It is therefore a relief to go through some recent threads to find it’s, likely, a “different world” here. It is great credit to TA and all/most contributors here that the site is able to be rational about Arsenal’s laboured performances in the league and unexpected results we’ve had in recent games, particularly our lack of creativity coupled with Auba’s goals drought. To be fair, in real time, it is hard to see much good or retain hope, but afterwards, taking it all in and having some perspective, I am also of the opinion it will take time and we shall soon get it right.

    We nearly stole it too, had Bukayo Saka made the right decision (to shoot first time) or had the Ref chosen the path of consistency and honour to give us a stonewall penalty. I am convinced we shall start to click at some point in the season. I only hope the online toxicity of some of our fans won’t have served to lower confidence further in the camp.

  • Re GN5’s predictions game; looks like Kev is running away with it, for sure. What a streak!

    My predictions for this weekend’s games follow:

    Everton vs Leeds Utd. H
    West Brom vs Sheffield Utd . H
    Chelsea vs Tottenham…. D. (3-3)
    Arsenal vs Wolves…. H
    Southampton vs Manchester Utd……. D
    Socieadad vs Villarreal.. D

  • Cheers Admir,

    Sorry for being blunt, but this is a different Admir writing this piece. I actually liked this writeup and it is very nicely thought of.

    I have not watched the recent matches, due to the odd timing (kickoff at 3am local time, or 12.30am local time), but i know that the team had to buck up massively so that Mikel can turn this around and its all about the mentality: We need 10 Saka and 1 Leno in the team. Simple as that.

    Cheers again,

  • Cheers, NJK.

    Not a bad idea and if we have a transfer budget at all, we should buy a cloning machine.

    Saka would pick the ball from Leno and pass it on the flank to Saka who would pass it into the middle to Saka who would switch the play on the right flank. Saka would yell at Saka for picking Saka for that pass instead of him.

    The best part of it, we could register all 10 Sakas as U21 players!

  • Yes J, pointing out restoration mistakes on the way is perfectly fine, as long as we realise it is trial and error and people are not bricks, wood or plaster hahaha 🙂

  • Cheers Eris, I fully get it that many fans use the game to let off steam (for all the sorrows and disappointments in their lives) when Arsenal fail to provide euphoria. Somebody rather than something needs to be blamed and Arteta and or the boys will get the blame. Supporters don’t do that unless the manager/boys don’t fight for the shirt anymore. I could not ask for a more committed manager and set of players, even though it sometimes looks that some players are not giving their all. The latter is caused by the tactics not always working and this shows players isolated and frustrated. It will take more time but once it starts clicking it will get better and better. 🙂

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