Graeme Souness impressed with Arsenal challenge but aims dig at Arteta who ‘has form’ for ‘nonsense’

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta Credit: Alamy
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta Credit: Alamy

Graeme Souness feels Mikel Arteta is doing a ‘fine job’ at Arsenal but branded some of his unusual motivation techniques as ‘nonsense’.

Arteta, 40, has been in charge of the Gunners since December 2019. And, from a position where his job was once under threat, the Spaniard has now guided his charges to the top of the Premier League. They sit five points clear of Manchester City.

And that could be extended to eight points after Sunday’s visit of struggling Crystal Palace. The former Arsenal midfielder has been lauded for the work he has done at the Emirates.

Player recruitment has been excellent while he has helped develop youngsters such as Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe.

Granit Xhaka seems at the top of his game and all is rosy in the red half of north London.

The former Everton midfielder has his own views on player motivation. And Olekandr Zinchenko gave an insight into what went on during last Sunday’s 3-0 away triumph over Fulham.

The Ukraine international posted a photo on Instagram from the Craven Cottage dressing room.

The Arsenal stars were holding a replica of the club’s famous clock that sits on top of the Clock End at Emirates Stadium.

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Souness was not impressed. And he confessed he thought it was a spoof story when first reading the news.

“I read the story about Arsenal taking their home comforts into opposition dressing rooms and had to read it again to make sure it wasn’t a joke,” he wrote in the Daily Mail.

“Really? Is this what the modern game has become? So Arsenal players arrive at Fulham to find their own clock is on the wall along with their own pictures and stickers?”

Arteta approach backfires at Liverpool

Arsenal hold all the aces in the race for the Premier League trophy. Doubts over their ability to sustain a title push are now well and truly out of the window.

City are their only realistic challengers but Pep Guardiola’s side still have both the FA Cup and Champions League to think about.

The Gunners focus is solely on the Premier League after their Europa League exit.

Arteta has done little wrong this season. But Souness feels he should stick to the traditional methods for motivation.

“It’s extremely strange and only a winning manager can get away with that,” he added. “Arteta is doing a fine job but he has form for such nonsense.

“Last season he had ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ played over the loudspeakers at training to prepare his players for a game at Anfield.

“They lost 4-0, so that went well for them.”

A home clash with Leeds United follows for Arsenal after the international break. But the run-in is far from plain sailing.

The league leaders still need to play Liverpool, City, Chelsea and Newcastle before the dust settles on 2022-2023.

Winning a first Premier League title since 2003-2004 is the objective. And, if Arteta manages to pull it off, Souness will then need to re-evaluate his views on whether the Spanish tactician’s methods hold any weight.

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