Arteta guided Arsenal to their first win and clean sheet of their Premier League campaign on Saturday as the Gunners beat Norwich City 1-0, building off a new defensive platform
Mikel Arteta might just have stumbled upon the perfect solution to Arsenal’s defensive issues.
The Gunners ran out 1-0 winners when they welcomed Norwich City to the Emirates on Saturday, with a new-found rearguard solidity after conceding nine goals in their opening three Premier League games.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal may have got Arteta and co off the mark but it was the defence that gave Arsenal a platform to claim their first victory of their top-flight campaign.
The Spanish boss named a back line which boasted an average age of 23 including three summer of their six signings, a signifier of Arteta and technical director Edu’s attempts to refresh the squad and build for the future.
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In goal, Arteta made the bold decision to drop German goalkeeper Bernd Leno after conceding five goals at Manchester City before the international break.
Aaron Ramsdale came in for his top-flight Arsenal debut, with the Gunners paying Sheffield United an initial £24 million for his signature during the final days of the summer transfer window.
Although relatively untested as he made just one save, the stopper received high praise him his boss.
“I think he was terrific,” Arteta stated. “It is not only what he did on the technical side, it is what he transmits, his energy, his chemistry with the backline, how he reacts, his body language… I think it was top.
“We have two fantastic goalkeepers and never forgot what Bernd has done for us and what a good goalkeeper he is.
He added: “I had to make decisions and I felt Aaron was the right one to do so and like in any other position, and that is what we decided today.”
Alongside Ramsdale making his league debut, right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu also shone as he started and played 62 minutes.
The Japan international won more duels (10) than any other player on the pitch despite his more limited minutes.
“[It was] really positive,” Arteta said. “Just the first impression when you met him, it was just joy and happiness and good energy.
“The moment he steps on the pitch he was really focused, determined, he understands the role really good. He was cramping,” the Spaniard explained.
“Obviously he only trained a day and a half with us, he had to travel, and emotionally it was his first game and we had to take him off.”
Meanwhile, Kieran Tierney was his usual self bombing down the left flank but it was a signing from 2020 that Gunners supporters were pleased to see.
Gabriel Magalhaes made his first appearance of the season after recovering from a knee injury, slotting in the heart of defence alongside £50 million man Ben White.
While helping his centre-back partner look much more assured than in previous matches, Gabriel had fans feeling chuffed about his display both on the ball and in a traditional defensive sense.
One tweeted: ‘I’d completely forgot how good Gabriel is. Especially when you’ve watched [Pablo] Mari, [Rob] Holding and [Callum] Chambers the weeks before.’
Another echoed the same sentiment and said: ‘Even though it’s Norwich, Gabriel and White had great games.’
White himself posted: “That win was needed!! A clean sheet was the icing on the cake.
“Lovely to hear you all at the Emirates today.”
Although Arsenal were facing off against a team tipped for relegation, the Gunners’ youthful back line was a plus point and Arteta could well be laying the foundations for years of success in the red part of north London.