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Mikel Arteta is already teaching Unai Emery a valuable lesson in man management

Two differing pictures of this Arsenal squad have been painted in recent days. For Unai Emery his former side was shorn of leaders, stuffed with players who expected more than they gave.

Yet after a rare and hard-earned break in the fixture calendar Mikel Arteta has come to an altogether different conclusion about a group of players whose attitude has so often been questioned.

“The thing that surprised me the most is how much the players are on board with what we are trying to do. They are in for everything in training and they have [the right] attitude and commitment.

“That for me is the foundation of anything that you can build.”

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What Arteta is trying to achieve is not a quick fix. Unlike a Nigel Pearson or David Moyes he has not been given a short-term mandate of Premier League survival but something grander.

As Raul Sanllehi noted when he unveiled Arteta as Arsenal manager: “We want to build a whole project with him, he is the right person to drive that.

“His analysis he made of our squad he sees great potential of our youngsters and what we can build going forward.”

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Arteta came in with an intention for root and branch reform of Arsenal’s culture, of addressing a dressing room that had grown fractious under Emery. Instead he has been dealing with a crisis of numbers at left-back, trying to puzzle together a way to bring the best out of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and finding a left-footed central defender.

Dubai has offered the chance to change all that. The benefits of warm weather training cannot be underestimated but that alone is not what Arteta saw as the great advantage of his side’s trip to the Middle East, from which they flew back earlier today as they prepare for Sunday’s visit of Newcastle.

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Arteta explained: “The main thing was to work, to come here and to make sure a lot of things I want to implement are happening on the football pitch and a lot of things culturally that I want to change and implement while we are living together and what we’re expecting from each other.

“There are things I want to implement together as a group, not just for the players but for the staff as well. It has been really useful.

“We had good reason to come here. We are really happy that we made that decision.”

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From afar the sense of an Arsenal squad at ease with itself has been apparent from David Luiz’s pranks on the team bus to the bonding trip to the desert that ended their trip to the UAE. Social media posts and the like ought to be taken with a pinch of salt but it was apparent to those who observe the Gunners at close proximity even before the winter break that there was a tighter bond…