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Mikel Arteta happy with Arsenal progress but admits there is plenty to improve

The Gunners travel to basement club Norwich on Boxing Day.

Mikel Arteta recently celebrated two years in charge of Arsenal
Mikel Arteta recently celebrated two years in charge of Arsenal

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta believes his team are going in the right direction approaching the halfway mark of the season.

The Gunners sit fourth in the Premier League and are through to the Carabao Cup semi-finals following Tuesday’s 5-1 win over Sunderland.

Next up is a trip to basement club Norwich on Boxing Day where the visitors will aim to secure a fifth straight victory in all competitions.

Arteta said: “We are halfway through the season and unfortunately the season ends in May because there is still a lot of things to do.

“There are still a lot of things we need to get much better at and to improve but I think the team is going in the right direction, that is the feeling that I have.”

Sunday will mark two years since Arteta took charge of his first Arsenal match away to Bournemouth, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Of the 18-man matchday squad named for that clash at the Vitality Stadium in 2019, only eight are still part of the current first team which highlights the rebuild job that has been undertaken by the former Gunners captain.

“It’s been an incredible amount of turnaround in players in the last two seasons, much more than we wished or hoped for,” Arteta admitted.

Mikel Arteta took charge of his first Arsenal match on Boxing Day in 2019
Mikel Arteta took charge of his first Arsenal match on Boxing Day in 2019 (Mark Kerton/PA)

“We try to make all the right decisions, sometimes right, sometimes wrong and we’ll continue to do that in the best interests of the club and to get a better team, better performances and better results.

“I’m most proud of the atmosphere, the environment and the culture we have around the club and the sense of unity that we have from everybody who works at the club.

“The sense of unity that we have with our supporters I think has come a long, long way.

“I think I have made a lot of mistakes for sure in this period, I would need to have time to reflect on that, but I don’t know, I wish I had six trophies here next to me because that’s what this club deserves!”

A 1-0 home win over Norwich kick-started Arsenal’s season after three consecutive defeats left them bottom of the Premier League at the start of September.

It has been a different story for the Canaries who have struggled since promotion and changed manager last month with Dean Smith brought in to replace Daniel Farke.

Performances have improved under the ex-Aston Villa boss but Norwich remain at the foot of the table and have lost their last three games while they have only won twice in the top flight this term.

Arteta insisted: “I think they deserve much more from many, many games – in recent games as well.

“Under Dean they deserve better results and they haven’t got them and we know at their place it will be a really difficult game.

“If the crowd is there as well you know how special it is on Boxing Day so we expect a tough match.”

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