Jose Mourinho’s comments on Mikel Arteta and Arsenal speak volumes three years on

Mikel Arteta has had a turbulent time as Arsenal manager, but Jose Mourinho tipped the Gunners boss for greatness as far back as three years ago after one North London derby

Jose Mourinho issued a glowing assessment of Mikel Arteta three years ago today and it looks like the ‘special one’ was bang on.

The comments came at a time when Arteta’s stock was hardly at its highest, with Arsenal enduring some of the worst form they had suffered in years. Mourinho was also at the helm of closest rivals Tottenham, who had just beaten the Gunners in a North London derby to add insult to Arsenal injury.

December 6 2020 saw Spurs run out 2-0 winners over the Gunners with goals from Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son firing them 11 points ahead of hapless Arsenal. The Gunners languished as low as 15th in the table at the time and pressure was beginning to mount on Arteta as a result.

However, Mourinho sent public support in the direction of his Arsenal counterpart and was firm in his stance that Arteta was the right man to guide the Gunners moving forward. “I want to give a good word to Mikel because he gave us a very difficult game,” he told Sky Sports.

“Tactically they are very good. They gave us problems. I can imagine tomorrow the headlines will be about them not being in a good position in the table but I believe with these players, with Mikel Arsenal will be Arsenal again.”

Three years on, Arsenal sit top of the Premier League by four points and had their first real title challenge in more than a decade the season prior. Arteta has invested wisely, with the help of significant financial backing, and landed the signatures of players who have helped transform the club.

Of the starting XI that evening against Spurs in 2020, seven have left the club permanently, while Kieran Tierney is currently out on loan with Real Sociedad. Since then, Premier League winners like Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko have arrived, while Declan Rice was purchased for £105million.

It was Rice who netted a dramatic, last-gasp winner in Arsenal’s most recent outing away at Luton. Locked at 3-3 with just seconds to spare, the ex-West Ham captain rose highest to nod home and spark wild celebrations in the Kenilworth Road away end.

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