Arsenal’s DNA Under Arteta

In the heyday of Arsene Wenger’s reign in N5 the phrase “Arsenal’s DNA” came into common parlance and most people understood what it meant.

It stood for a style of play that was attacking, intelligent, skill-based and successful. It was in opposition to what were then the ‘traditional’ values of the English game: blood and thunder, physicality, “let them know you’re there,” defenders told to “just hoof it.”

Wenger’s teams, while perfectly capable of standing up for themselves physically (especially his early teams) preferred to win with greater skill.

And the idea of having ball-playing defenders was more or less pioneered in this period.

That was Arsenal’s DNA under Wenger.

But what is the club’s DNA under our new boss, Mikel Arteta?

Is it too early to ask that question?

If not, what answers might we consider?

We would like to propose that the Arsenal/Arteta DNA can best be described in one word: flexibility.

Flexibility in players (Saka, Maitland-Niles, Smith-Rowe, Tierney, Willian and others all used in different positions).

And flexibility in formation, depending on circumstances such as the nature of the opposition, the phase of the game, whether or not we are in possession and so on.

How would you describe Arsenal’s DNA under the leadership of Mikel?



31 Responses to Arsenal’s DNA Under Arteta

  1. LBG says:

    Beautifully structured Rocky. Proud to be slashed with you – LBG/Rockylives!

  2. fred1266 says:

    Think it the other way around rocky is prouder to be / when you

  3. RockyLives says:

    Quite right Fred. It’s an honour and a privilege.

  4. RockyLives says:

    One way on which our DNA may differ under Arteta (compared with Wenger) is that I think Mikel will be a stricter boss and less easy going manager.

    Arsene’s ideal was to get amazing players and expect that their football intelligence would make things work, within his broad coaching parameters.

    Sometimes it worked (his early Double teams and the Invincibles) other times not so much if the personnel were not quite right.

    In summary, Arteta may be part Wenger and part George Graham, which would be a pretty awesome combo.

  5. LBG says:

    Mikel Grenger! Brilliant!

    The Athletic says Saliba will stay at least next 2 1/2 months till Christmas. I personally, like this, and hope we will see him in a red and white shirt to assess the future prospect.

  6. fred1266 says:

    Wasn’t saliba supposed to be the next best thing why loan him out

  7. LBG says:

    He is 19. He has had a serious injury and a very early end to the French League. Mikel is concerned that, as a defender, he potentially needs to be “roughed up” a bit, perhaps in the Championship by big, bruising forwards, before they push him too hard in our League.
    I believe he may, in the heat of battle, prove better equipped for the latter than some perhaps think. I quote often that Adam’s was playing alongside O’Leary at 17, making his mistakes, but Captaining the Club by 21.
    Tony was perhaps unique, and especially given these are different times.
    As I said above, I hope up to Christmas we test his readiness for battle.

    PS Where are those pics of you and the dinosaur?

  8. RA says:


    My first glance at the Post title made me think DNA stood for – where’s my “dinner” – a harmless onomatopoeic reaction to what appeared to be an introduction to a sciencey discussion, which is a bit foreign to football blogs, but interesting none the less.

    My vague memory of what Dinner or DNA is defined as, is something like; – a molecule carrying genetic instructions for the development, growth, functioning and reproduction of an organism.

    I presume you might agree that Arsenal’s DNA under Arteta would be quite difficult to explain or categorize as the club is not an organism — but not wishing to be pedantic – it is clear that what we are discussing is; whether, or not, the Arsenal team and management is different under Mikel as compared to those developed and controlled by, say, Arsene, or the top managers of other clubs.

    So, if Mikel represents the molecule, then the way he instructs the players in their personal development, together with his vision as to how he wants the team to play/function, and its grow in a disciplined and creative way which lays down a matrix for the perpetual reproduction of future teams in that light, because he would, by definition, be fashioning a team unique in Arsenal’s and the Premiership’s history.

    The problem for someone with a limited cerebral cortex, like me, is that I/We do not have enough evidence to ascertain whether he is slavishly following the pattern of Wenger, or Gardiola, or a mixture of both, or is indeed inventing a unique system that he is evolving based on his diverse experiences of coaching with, or playing for, the best managers.

    What I can say is that I believe he is someone very different to any other manager I have seen in many years, and I am backing him to return Arsenal to the top tier of the Premiership. 😁

  9. RockyLives says:

    There you are Redders!

    Excellent comment.

    I am intrigued by your final paragraph and this line in particular: “…he is someone very different to any other manager I have seen in many years…”

    It’s a powerful statement – can you elaborate?

  10. RA says:

    Hi Rocky,

    It is somewhat a play on ‘unique’ because we are setting very high standards for him — and as he like us is Homo Sapiens, and we all have the same DNA, of course, we need to differentiate him from other managers in other ways — he needs to be cautious when others are kung ho; to be willing to attack, when others would hide in defence; to plan, when others do not; and so on.

    He ticks my boxes by being a composite of all the better managers I have seen, but also unlike any of them in toto, for example he likes to attack, like Wenger, but unlike him he sees the need for skilful defence; he deals with occasional defeat without bluster, which many managers cannot understand; but he does not deny the need to get better next time; and so on.

    I know I am utterly boring, and the above is full of holes, but in this instance, my only excuse is I am trying to express myself on the blog, while writing a financial assessment.

    The truth to tell, is that my blogging days are coming to an end, my fellow bloggers have better things to do than read my comments, and I blame them not, and unlike in the past when I have taken a break from blogging, in the hope that may change things, I realise I was wrong then, and do not want to repeat that. 😳

  11. RockyLives says:

    I think I wrote a Post once (just after Arteta’s appointment) about why I thought we had a much better young manager on our hands than either Chelsea with Lampard or Man Utd with Solskjaer.

    It was hard to define what I saw (see) in Arteta, but most of all I think it’s a kind of steeliness that only the very best managers have.

    Time will tell, but I agree with you on this.

    As for your other point, I will be very sad if you hang up your blogging boots. It’s noticeable that many of the old regulars now no longer visit or pop in only once in a rare while.

    The blog is liveliest when there are matches on, unsurprisingly, but if I have time I like to try and keep it bubbling along during the quiet times as well (like the current interlull).

    It’s hard work though and often seems largely thankless, so when the likes of you, or Fred, or LBG, or LB or RC or Pete or the others who have been around recently pop in to comment it’s always a nice feeling.

    Hopefully if Arteta does bring a renaissance in our fortunes it might reinvigorate the blogging too. But maybe that ship has sailed.

    I can’t say I blame Peaches and Rasp for stepping back a bit. On reflection it’s miraculous how they kept everything going for so long.

    Ah well, que sera sera.

  12. fred1266 says:

    Ok just the way we move with st ethienne regarding him I assumed he was ready

    I posted the picture of me and gunnersaurus a while now

  13. Sue says:

    Partey’s 2nd assist for Ghana earlier… he’s due at Colney on Wednesday and I can’t bloody wait!!!

  14. RA says:


    Your Posts are still brilliant and I always read them.

    The reason I have stayed around recently is because I especially want to support you, and RC, too, for what you do.

    I have not gone yet. 😉

  15. RC78 says:

    Great post again – thank you, yet again…:-)

    Arsenal’s DNA under Arteta and Edu:
    1. Resilience
    2. (More) Structured
    3. Physically robust recruits
    4. Brazil
    5. Concede late goals still

  16. RockyLives says:

    Anyone feel like doing a quick round-up of how our boys did on international duty?

  17. LBG says:

    Ok so Totteringham want to add 500 more seats to their (shitty) stadium capacity! Got to give them some incentive to carry on or what would happen to St Totteringham Day, but, discount on the cost of their (shitty) stadium! Never!

  18. LBG says:

    Thomas, it is always right to wait for the bigger (biggest) Club. You’d be settling for third best with Chelski or Juve!!!

  19. RA says:


    There may be some AA’ers who, to their credit, watched a lot of the international football, and are in a position to report on how well, or indifferently, our lads performed for their countries.

    Sadly, I am not one of them, so this little comment will not steal any thunder from them, if, when, they submit a Post.

    I only saw one game, or in actualité bits of one friendly game played by England against Wales.

    What can I tell you? Not a lot – other than Saka, on his debut, looked slightly nervous at first, which was only to be expected, and tended to take the cautious option with back passes, rather than showing what he can do when he lights the blue touch paper.

    He relaxed as the game progressed and he settled into the international nature of the game, and for me, he deserved a rating of 7/10 which in the circumstances, and with different team mates was pretty good.

    AMN came on late in the game, and I must have blinked because I first saw him sliding around on his rear end like a drunken champion Ice skater – and what seemed like seconds later he was trooping off with the others as the game ended.

    So no rating is possible from this viewer.

    I did not see any other Arsenal stars in action, and the only other game I partially saw was England fortuitously beating Belgium.

    My self rating as an AA football correspondent was 1/10 and I expect you to sack me tomorrow. And rightly so. 🤪

  20. RockyLives says:

    You saw one more international game than me.

    I can’t get all that bothered about internationals outside of tournaments. If there’s an Arsenal player or two on the pitch I’m bit more interested, but not that much.

    The only piece of action I have seen is – courtesy of Sue – Partey’s lovely long ball to make a goal for a colleague in Ghana’s game against (Qatar?). It was a perfect pass, hit with deliberate backspin to slow down the ball when it bounced.

    Bodes well for us.

  21. Sue says:

    Come on Eddie, break the record!

  22. RA says:


    I had a work excuse to miss many international games, but I, too, have little interest in friendly games – apparently we seem to think much the same way — who’d a thunk it?? 👀

    Sue is one of the best Gooners I know, if not the best, and her enthusiasm is infectious — (well done, Sue, we need more fans like you). 😁

  23. Sue says:

    Eddie’s done it!! 👏

  24. Sue says:

    Aww, thanks, RA 😊 you’re not so bad yourself 😉
    I have something to say – I wasn’t very impressed with you, on about how your blogging days are coming to an end! Nooooo!! You’re not utterly boring and you’re not allowed to disappear, ok?! You’ve made me feel really welcome on here from day one – which I really appreciate – and I don’t think anyone else could put a smile on my face the way you do! 🙂 So there haha!

  25. RockyLives says:

    Well said Sue

    On Eddie

    And on Redders

  26. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Rocky for yesterdays post. Only a day late 🙂

    I think what RA said carries a lot of merit and that Mikel is a composite manager who draws from all the chief influences through his career to date.

    It seems every one of his peers that have spent any time with him have recognised a special drive and keen analytical brain and feel he always had that x factor that would allow him to succeed. I don’t want to get too carried away yet and talk big success before it has happened, but the omens look good.

    I think he looks an intelligent manager that will have recognised the strengths and weaknesses of all the managers he has been under or worked with and will be able to blend the different approaches together in an effective modern hybrid style.

    At root level I believe Mikel is an attacking based manager but he has shown pragmatism in being able to adapt in a different way if he cant do exactly what he wants at certain times. If I was to think about flexibility then I would consider it on that level, that he has that flexibility, but I wouldn’t necessarily feel it is the key thing that identifies him, more just that he has that within him when required.

    Being more flexible in our set up has been more of a necessity recently and it has been helped by having certain players that can adapt to a couple of roles. That has probably been helped by having a few quality hungry youngsters who are still developing but haven’t yet fully identified their best future position, and as such are happy to give it their all in whatever position they are asked to play.

    Personally I feel many of the young players will start to adopt one main position as we move on and Mikel will look to implement a formation and style that has cover in all positions so there is less need to change as much from how he really wants to see us set up and play.

    I think we will now slowly move away from having to be more pragmatic and now start to develop more towards what he really wants, and expect to see a more fluid attacking unit as the season progresses but still with a solid disciplined base. I think we will start to see more players play in their strongest roles on a more regular basis.

    I would say Mikels DNA is that of a modern hybrid, primarily attack minded, manager who gives huge attention to detail. He also seems to recognise that certain players are needed to bring balance to a side and I feel we look the most balanced in our squad than we have done in ages. In the recent past we have often looked like a collection of individually talented players that couldn’t harmonise or balance and compliment each other.

    Mikels DNA is in his tactical acumen, his understanding of how to balance a team, and his attention to detail. Tactics, balance, detail….. Its the TBD DNA and the future is TBD (to be determined).

    On the England front I am still not completely sold on Southgate but will leave that discussion till tomorrow.

  27. RA says:

    What an excellent article GB – top class, sir. 😁

  28. RA says:

    Ah, shucks, Sue.

    Thank you for such a nice comment. 😁

    By the way, I reciprocate the thoughts of both you and the Rocket.

    I hope you have a good day, and also, thank you for letting us know about Eddie and his record achievement. I knew you would!! 👍

  29. RockyLives says:

    Great comment GoonerB

    I wholeheartedly agree with this line: “I feel we look the most balanced in our squad than we have done in ages.”

  30. RockyLives says:

    New Post

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