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Arsenal’s project to find the right staff for Mikel Arteta’s revolution

Nine months into his tenure, Mikel Arteta is starting to create a staff around him that adapts to his needs. He is not alone in making significant changes which mean that Arsenal starting the 2020/21 season will be very different from the one who hoisted the FA Cup just over three weeks ago.

For starters, Arteta is addressing perhaps his team’s most underrated weakness: the inability to defend set pieces. Of the 48 goals Arsenal conceded in the Premier League last season, 22 came from dead balls, although that number has been somewhat inflated by a string of penalties taken. Andreas Georgson, Brentford’s outgoing set piece and individual development chief, will be the man to handle this for the Gunners.

Defending from set pieces has seen a worrying trend emerge at Arsenal. 46% of the goals conceded on dead balls in 2019/20 are followed by a third of the goals conceded in 2018/19 and 24% the previous year.

Arteta is believed to have identified Arsenal as being particularly vulnerable to short corners and free kicks, where his players have a tendency to shut down and allow opponents to create two-on-one cross opportunities. His side have conceded a string of goals in this way this season, notable cases against Brighton, Chelsea and Crystal Palace since his appointment.

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football.london understands that Georgson will not be the only new member to join Arteta’s technical staff. Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp has been linked to a comeback to fill the assistant manager void left by the departure of Freddie Ljungberg and further appointments are expected to supplement a team that was put together on the fly after arriving mid-season. of the coach.

Georgson is the latest in a long line of employees to make the journey from Brentford’s Jersey Road training ground to London Colney. Goalkeeper coach Inaki Cana Pavon has been a big hit with the team since joining the nomination of Arteta.

“Inaki shows us videos every day and constantly tells us what we need to do to improve and how to do it,” said Emiliano Martinez of Pavon.

“Even when you think you’ve done the right things and keep a clean sheet, he’ll still tell you 10 bad things about your game. That’s okay. That’s how you improve. He’s a positive man and we’re glad we have him.”

Meanwhile, the Arsenal Academy team includes many former Brentford employees, including senior scout Shaun O’Connor and emerging talent coordinator Yousuf Sajjad.

Arteta made no secret of his intention to strengthen his staff before the end of the season. He is expected to replace Ljungberg, appoint an analyst and add an additional member of his technical staff.

Sweeping change is increasingly the norm at Arsenal, which saw football boss Raul Sanllehi leave earlier this month and is firing 55 employees in light of the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the club’s finances. .



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Among those who left the club was first team operations manager Ameesh Manek, whose job was to coordinate departments so that the club worked as effectively as possible to ease the load on the playing team. It is currently unclear whether his role will be replaced.

Throughout the club there is a push to ensure that every sector works in the manner outlined above, supporting the first team to ensure they can propel Arsenal to greater success. Arteta’s first message to the staff was to remind them of exactly this.

The club as a whole intends to become leaner, to be a more decisive group without many levels of management.

There have been successful pilot projects, most notably the academy recruiting team led by Steve Brown. There has been a significant reversal as long-standing names have remained, but those who have arrived, for example former Manchester United and England scout Conan Watson, are seen as experts in their field.

Those changes mainly concerned technical director Edu and academy head Per Mertesacker making their mark on Hale End, now Arteta is doing much the same at London Colney.

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