Robert Pires has heralded the work of Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and believes his former club have “rediscovered their DNA.”
Arsenal face Manchester City in a crunch Premier League fixture on Wednesday with the Gunners sitting five points ahead of their rivals, though defeat at the Etihad Stadium will mean Pep Guardiola’s side move to within two points with two games in hand.
Regardless of the result, Pires – winner of two league titles with Arsenal – believes their progress should still be celebrated as they continue on an upward trajectory since Arteta’s appointment.
“Arsenal are becoming a great English club again,” he said, speaking to Le Parisien.
“They’re fighting for the title and rediscovering their DNA – playing beautiful football, one which also allows us to see young talents to emerge, like Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka.
“It’s everything that Arsene Wenger put in place when he arrived at the club. He wanted people to be inspired by him and play beautiful football.
“These days, Arteta, who played under him before becoming Guardiola’s assistant, has managed to bring that back. Arsenal are back up on their feet and that’s why I like watching this team play.
“You can compare their style of play to that of Lens or Marseille in Ligue 1 – these are teams that constantly attack. Of course there are weaknesses, but this tendency to attack is what we want to see more of in football.”
3 – Only Southampton (1) have kept fewer clean sheets in home matches in the Premier League this season than Arsenal (3). Leaky. pic.twitter.com/2eE44hy5rJ
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 21, 2023
Arsenal are winless in their last three games after draws against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton, while City remain unbeaten in their last 16 in all competitions.
Arteta’s men are set to be without influential centre-back William Saliba through injury, with Pires adamant that squad depth may ultimately hinder Arsenal’s title charge.
“That’s the main difference between the two squads,” he said. “City’s is much deeper and more powerful than Arsenal’s. Mikel Arteta has often played with the same 12 or 13 players.
“They’re a younger team, they have less experience, and that can be difficult when you have to go and get a title. The last two months are difficult. Everyone keeps telling you that you’re going to win, there’s tension, you’re more and more nervous. You can get tripped up.”
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