Arsenal icon Cesc Fabregas has name-checked five current members of the Gunners squad who are “top, top players”, in conversation with 90min.
The 33-year-old was talking about how Arsenal are currently in a transition period and how Mikel Arteta is still trying to find his best team and setup.
After the Gunners parted company with Unai Emery in November, they brought Arteta in a month later as their new permanent head coach, snapping him up from Manchester City.
At the time of his arrival, Arsenal were stuck in a rut, in the bottom half of the Premier League table with just 23 points from 18 games, amid some bad results and poor football.
Nearly a year on, the Gunners are a completely different proposition, having won two trophies over the summer and looking stronger in terms of mentality, tactics and personnel.
However, it’s not been all plain sailing, and there have been occasions where the team has struggled, the 3-0 loss against Aston Villa last time out a particularly poor display.
“Listen, it’s a transition period,” Fabregas told 90min. “Mikel has his ideas, but it takes time. The problem for a coach nowadays is that you have no time. You lose three games, everyone is asking for your head.
“I know it’s very, very difficult because you want to implement your ideas, and it’s a process. Sometimes, it’s difficult because football is moving very quickly, everyone wants to win, there’s pressure from the board, from the fans, from the players. You’re on the spot every single day.
“He’s trying to find his team. They have [Dani] Ceballos, they have [Granit] Xhaka, now they’ve added Thomas Partey from Atletico, who’s a very good player as well. They have Willian, they have [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang – top, top players, that’s 100% sure. Maybe they still need a little bit more time.”
Given the sorry state Arsenal were in when Arteta took the reins at the Emirates Stadium, there’s no doubting that things are a lot better now, with the Gunners looking as if they should be fine for a top-four finish.
The players are certainly there, and the five named by Fabregas are indeed top players, but there’s still work to be done in terms of the team as a whole, though if anyone can do it, it’s someone like Arteta.
It’s worth remembering how long it took Jurgen Klopp to finally win silverware and how he was getting increasingly criticised by sections of the press and rival fans for not having won any trophies prior to their 2019 Champions League win.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.