Ever since Mikel Arteta took over at his former club Arsenal, the north Londoners have looked a changed outfit.
The Spaniard, for so long Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City, wanted to stride out on his own, and where better than at the Gunners.
Though it took a little while for his players to buy into his new ideas, by the end of the 2019/20 campaign, Arsenal had seen off the challenge of City and Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final and final, both played at Wembley, as well as putting Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool to the sword in the Community Shield.
In each of those games, and others towards the end of the Premier League campaign, Arsenal have shown a solidity that had perhaps been missing since Arsene Wenger’s all-conquering sides were in their pomp.
It’s no wonder that BT Sport’s Ian Darke can see them finishing above Frank Lampard’s outfit this season.
“I’ve got them finishing fourth,” Darke told ESPN FC and cited by the Daily Express.
“I think Arteta’s changed the mentality of that club completely.
“I think you’ve seen it three times now, every time at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final, the FA Cup final and then the Community Shield against good opposition, I think they’re a different side now.
“I think they do have that capability to go out every week and be pretty consistent as well if they can keep everybody fit.
“They might need to add one or two more between now and October 5 but I can see Arsenal maybe being the surprise team and making the top four ahead of slightly more-fancied rivals [Chelsea].”
The cup win will surely have given the players belief that under this coach they will go places.
If Arteta can keep his team motivated and generally free of injuries, then there’s no reason why Darke’s prediction can’t come true.