The Gunners great admits it is going to take time for a rebuilding project to be completed in north London, but he is seeing signs of encouragement
Mikel Arteta deserves a lot of credit for having turned Granit Xhaka “right around” at Arsenal and getting “something out of” Shkodran Mustafi, says Ian Wright.
For some, two much-maligned figures at Emirates Stadium had become a lost cause.
With Xhaka having been stripped of the captaincy on the back of a public show of frustration towards a disgruntled fan base, the Swiss midfielder was considered to be on borrowed time.
Mustafi was another expected to be edged towards the exits amid struggles for form.
The German defender may be a World Cup winner, but he has struggled to win over many during his time in north London.
A change in the dugout has, however, delivered an upturn in fortune for those handed a clean slate.
Xhaka’s tenacity in the middle of the park has become an asset again, rather than a hindrance, while Mustafi has rediscovered the assurance and consistency in his game which had been missing for some time.
Arteta is considered to have played a leading role in lighting a fire under those who were in danger of fizzling out and Arsenal legend Wright told BBC Radio 5 Live: “There has been a change in organisation, closing down, intensity with the guys.
“People like [Lucas] Torreira, Xhaka, he’s turned Xhaka right around.
“He’s got something out of Mustafi – Mustafi played well against Burnley the other day. Things are happening, but it’s going to take its time.”
Arteta has quickly identified that fixing a leaky defence at Arsenal remains his top priority.
He was able to bring in Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares during the January transfer window, while highly-rated teenager William Saliba will arrive as a £27 million ($35m) addition at the end of the season.
Wright believes every effort is being made to right the wrongs at Emirates Stadium, adding: “Unfortunately our defence was poor leading up to this and the defence is getting a little bit more solid, a couple of clean sheets, now we just need to convert the chances.
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“I don’t think he’s totally happy with the defence, Pablo Mari has just come in, he might make a difference.
“Saliba is going to come back from loan next season, you’re hoping that those two can make a difference. [Kieran] Tierney will be a major plus for us. Soares is a fantastic signing as back-up to Hector [Bellerin].”
Arsenal are currently taking in their winter break and will not be back in action until playing host to Newcastle on February 16.