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Hector Bellerin has insisted that Mikel Arteta is making progress at Arsenal , despite the team’s inconsistent performances last season.
Arsenal finished eighth in the Premier League last term, crashing out of both domestic cups and going out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage.
Having missed out on the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League qualifying spots, next season will be their first without European football since the 1995-96 campaign.
Arteta now faces a daunting summer rebuild and, after hit-and-miss transfer dealings during his tenure, he and technical director Edu have little room for error when it comes to recruitment. If Arsenal fail to hit the ground running next season, the situation could become extremely difficult.
Mikel Arteta (left) embraces Hector Bellerin after Arsenal's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad last October
(Image: Getty Images)
Speaking to the High Performance Podcast, however, Bellerin has highlighted Arteta’s impact behind the scenes and the unseen improvements he has made as manager. “I think, personally, at Arsenal, [emphasis on small details] is something which has changed a lot,” he said.
“The ethics and the way [we] work since Mikel has been the manager of the club have completely changed. These behaviours, our behaviours, have been rewarded by him.
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“There’s more emphasis on behaviours like the way we run back or the way we create space for a player.
“You can move to receive the ball, you can move to get a player [to move] away or move into space, there are so many ways that you can move.
“Sometimes a goal is created not by the player who passes the ball or the player who scores, but by the player that actually created that space and did what he had to do at that time.
“Many people among the fans, in the stands or even pundits sometimes, they won’t see that. But, truly, that’s what we’ve practised, that’s what the coach has asked and, by the player doing that, we were able to score that goal.
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“Even sometimes for the players it’s hard to see, when other teams do it and stuff. But we know, in our dressing room and in the way that we play, that we scored that goal thanks to that player.
“When we analyse the game the coach will say: ‘Guys, it’s thanks to this player and this, this, this and this, and then we scored the goal’. So I think that is something that, internally, has been rewarded and I think that’s really important.”
When it was put to Bellerin that, owing to Arsenal’s disappointing league finish, outside observers might be missing the good work going on within the club, he said: “Obviously it’s hard to say that we’ve had a great season, because of our position and not even being able to be in a Europa League final.
Bellerin has made 239 appearances for Arsenal since making his senior breakthrough in 2014
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
“But I’ve seen this club from 10 years ago and I’ve seen what this club has gone through. Arsene Wenger was there for 22 years and then Unai [Emery] came, then Freddie [Ljungberg] was there. When Mikel came, there was a very difficult atmosphere at the club.
“There was a lot of uncertainty. We didn’t know in which way to drive, to take the boat.
“Something that he did really well was to put in the pillars to build a house. This is something that’s not easy to do and it’s not something that you’re going to do in a season or a season and a half.
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“I think the way that we finished [his first] season, winning the FA Cup and the Community Shield, beating Manchester City in the semi-final and Liverpool in the league at that same time, that’s something that, with the Arsenal from three or four years ago, you probably wouldn’t see them doing.
“When I see ourselves, for example, this year against the top six – we beat Chelsea twice, we Manchester United and drew against them, we beat Tottenham at home – it’s only City and Liverpool that I feel are that level ahead of us.
“But, if we’re able to beat those teams, why are we not there at the top? It’s not because of the ability of the players, it’s not because of the ability of the coach or whatever, it’s what we are doing with the rest of the games.
“There are different values [and] different things that we need to work on. It’s not: ‘Are we good enough?’ Are we good enough? I’ll tell you, yes we’re good enough.”
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