Bob Wilson believes Arsenal have a bright future under their current manager, and also has high hopes for teenage forward Gabriel Martinelli.
Arteta completed a return to Emirates Stadium in December when he was installed as head coach following the departure of Unai Emery.
The 38-year-old finished his playing days as Arsenal’s club captain before quickly building a stellar coaching reputation among Pep Guardiola’s backroom team at Manchester City.
Emery led Arsenal to the Europa League final last season, but they were hammered 4-1 by Chelsea in Baku. A dismal run of seven games without a win in all competitions saw the ex-Sevilla boss sacked at the end of November.
Under Arteta, Arsenal have only lost twice in 16 outings, with their Europa League exit at the hands of Olympiacos the only blot on five wins out of six before football’s shutdown in response to Covid-19.
63% – Mikel Arteta ended on the winning side in 63% of his appearances for Arsenal in the Premier League. Only four players in the club’s history have a higher win percentage in the competition (min. 100 apps – Lauren, Cole, Overmars and Campbell). Pedigree. pic.twitter.com/roRFdAvwDs
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 20, 2019
“As a former captain, first of all he is one of the most natural leaders I’ve seen,” Wilson told Omnisport when discussing Arteta, who has recovered from being diagnosed with coronavirus last month. “He’s hugely bright, he’s hugely eloquent. You only have to listen to his interviews.
“The bottom line is he cannot do it alone. He needs the players and he needs a good coaching staff, which I think he’s definitely getting together.
“The club – that is the board and Stan Kroenke the owner – have got to give him the tools. That is now going to be even more difficult after Covid-19, but personally, I have a huge belief that Arteta is the man and that we will be winning trophies under him.”
Wilson appreciates the transfer market is likely to represent unfamiliar territory for clubs on the other side of the global pandemic, but he is nevertheless buoyed by the young talent emerging through the ranks at London Colney.
The likes of Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka have all impressed during breakthrough campaigns, although Wilson identified Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli as a truly special talent.
“Mikel has got three or four younger players coming through who have been blooded,” Wilson said before lauding the 18-year-old, who boasts 10 senior goals in 2019-20. “The one who I think, if Arsenal let Martinelli go, it’s going to come back and bite us.
“He’s unbelievable with the positions he takes up. I’ve spoken to [Arsenal technical director] Edu about Martinelli and he says that he sniffs the chances. He’s got that unbelievable ability, probably god-given, to sniff out chances. This is a kid still.”
1 – At 18 years 174 days old, Gabriel Martinelli is the youngest player to score for Arsenal on their first Premier League start. Starlet. pic.twitter.com/wgqtDqdEgx
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 9, 2019
Wilson added: “They’ve got big decisions to make. There will be one or two who want to go, but they’ve just got to be sure that they keep the young ones who can be integrated in the same way as I remember in my time under Bertie Mee and Don Howe.
“Those kids come in and it can be like a jigsaw puzzle – straight pieces and funny-shaped pieces but they blend.
“Mikel, if he gets it right, can do that because I’m not sure how the transfer market is going to work in this financial situation.”
***Bob Wilson was speaking on behalf of the Willow Foundation, which will host an online quiz via the London Football Awards Instagram page this Saturday and a concert by singer Mica Paris via its own Instagram page on Sunday. For a full list of events and further information, visit www.willowfoundation.org.uk***