Premier League - The Big Interview - Episode 8Sep 28
Mikel Arteta believes some of new arrival Jorginho’s best years are still ahead of him and feels Arsenal are more equipped for a Premier League title challenge than before the January transfer window after strengthening in three key positions last month.
After missing out on the signing of Ukrainian winger Mykhailo Mudryk, who joined Chelsea in an £88million deal, Arsenal pivoted to sign Leandro Trossard from Brighton with the Belgian running down his contract and unhappy at the club.
The Gunners then moved swiftly to sign left-footed centre back Jakub Kiwior from Spezia but the most eyebrow-raising move came on deadline day when the table-toppers moved for Italy midfielder Jorginho from rivals Chelsea.
In an exclusive interview with BTSport.com ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Everton on Saturday, shown live on BT Sport, Arteta explained how the move came about and what Jorginho can add to his Arsenal team.
“Jorginho is a player I’d always admired and I’ve known him a long time,” said Arteta, who was part of the Manchester City set up that lost out on Jorginho when the midfielder moved to Chelsea from Napoli in 2018. “He’s got the leadership, the skills, the intelligence and the experience in this league that not a lot of players have.
“He’s 31, he’s not 38 so his best years are still ahead of him. When I spoke to him, he was really enthusiastic about the team so for me, it was a no-brainer.”
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The move for Jorginho came about after Arsenal discovered the extent of Mohamed Elneny’s injury, which will see the Egyptian midfielder ruled out for an extended period ahead of a crucial period in the season for The Gunners.
“You have to adapt to the circumstances and the injury to Mo meant we had to have a plan that wasn’t the case before the injury,” Arteta explained. “You have to mould and adapt”.
Opinion on the deal for Jorginho is split among Arsenal fans with some believing it’s a shrewd signing considering the circumstances but others fearing the 31-year-old could go the way of other recent signings from Chelsea.
Willian, and to lesser extents David Luiz and Petr Cech, struggled after making the moves from west London to north London towards the end of their careers but Arteta is hopeful Arsenal’s newest player won’t follow suit.
“Every time you sign a player you generate some debate,” the Spaniard said. “We have some criteria and we make a lot of plans behind the scenes… This is football and sometimes you don’t always get it right but I am confident we will with Jorginho.”
“This window we had three main key areas we wanted to fill and we were able to do that,” Arteta added. “I am happy with the size of the squad because we have the quality and the competition to improve us. We have the players to give us different options and now we have more capacity to change games.”
Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, who signed a new long-term contract this week, have played almost every game this season with Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe out injured and Marquinhos – sent on loan to Norwich this window – still learning his trade.
And having pursued Mudryk doggedly this window, only to be gazumped by Chelsea, Arteta knew adding a winger to provide competition and add depth would be crucial for Arsenal’s title hopes even if 28-year-old Trossard doesn’t fit the age profile of the current squad.
“If we want to fight for the trophies we want to be fighting for, we need different options, different qualities and players who want to plug in and play,” Arteta said of the former Brighton winger.
“Also, we have an extremely young frontline so we need players like this. His quality is exceptional.”
We have turned results around in a really convincing way
- Mikel Arteta
Arsenal were undone on their previous trip to Goodison Park back in December of 2021 when a below-par performance saw them throw away a 1-0 lead as late goals from Richarlison and Demarai Gray condemned Arteta to a defeat at his former club.
But the north Londoners, who have 50 points and are five points clear of Manchester City at the halfway stage of the Premier League season, appear a different team 14 months on.
The Gunners have responded time and time again to challenges this term and in their most recent league clash at home to Manchester United recovered from conceding first and then being pegged back in the second half to claim all three points thanks to Eddie Nketiah’s late winner.
Asked whether the squad are growing in belief as Arsenal aim to secure a first league title since 2004, Arteta feels his team’s displays speak for themselves.
“The results and performances are a key indicator of the belief because we have turned results around in a really convincing way,” he said.
“You just have the feeling that we are not going to give up and we are going to continue to go and go, it’s how we have to approach every game.”
Saturday’s opponents Everton are in dire straits as they prepare to welcome the league leaders to Goodison Park. The Toffees have not won in eight league matches and sit 19th in the division and two points off safety.
The club’s latest loss, a 2-0 defeat at relegation rivals West Ham, prompted Everton to dismiss Frank Lampard and appoint former Burnley coach Sean Dyche as they attempt to beat the drop.
Amid a background of fan unrest and protests against the Everton board, Arteta appreciates it will be a complicated atmosphere at a club where he spent six seasons as a player.
“We know from our experience in the last few years at Everton how tough it is going to be [at Goodison Park] so it will be a really tough test for us,” Arteta added.
“They are going through a difficult time and after tomorrow with all my heart I hope things will improve.”
“What Sean did at Burnley with limited resources was incredible and I like his character a lot… We know what he’s tried to do historically in the league but it’s very difficult to predict what he’s going to do.
“But he’s going to change how people feel around the stadium and their way of playing too, it will be a game that demands a lot of clarity from us right from the start.”