Former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas believes the club are unrecognisable from the side he represented, due to manager Mikel Arteta’s impact.
A last-gasp Eddie Nketiah winner against Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on Sunday handed the Gunners a 3-2 victory, maintaining a five-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.
Now considered to be the favourites for the title, Arsenal have enjoyed a remarkable resurgence under Arteta, who has made wholesale changes at the club.
Fabregas has revealed that a recent trip to London Colney showed “everything had changed” since his days at Arsenal, including an image at the entrance that highlights Arsenal’s 19-year wait for Premier League glory.
“I was lucky enough to be at the training ground recently and it felt like I had never been there before because everything had changed so much,” he told Sky Sports.
“The manager of the training ground told me that 95 per cent of the changes were Mikel’s.
“He’s changed the perception of the club, a lot of positive messages around the training ground, much bigger facilities, better equipment, the pitches are better. Everything, you name it.
Arsenal had 63 touches in the Manchester United box in this match.
No side have had as many in a single Premier League game in 2022-23 so far.
— Opta Analyst (@OptaAnalyst)
“In the entrance they have a symbol of the Premier League, an empty Premier League. Arteta wants to send the message that: ‘guys, we need to put the work in’.
“It’s a message and inspiration to the players for them to really want to put the Premier League in there. He’s changed the mentality of the club since Arsene Wenger left. It’s fantastic what he’s done.”
Fabregas also highlighted the vast improvement on the field that has seen the Gunners quickly jump from top-four hopefuls to leading the charge for the Premier League title.
All three of Arsenal’s goals against United came from academy graduates, with Nketiah’s brace coming either side of a superb Bukayo Saka strike.
“Remember, they finished eighth for two consecutive seasons. To do what they’re doing in a short space of time and doing it in the manner they’re doing is quite inspiring,” he added.
“Arsenal gave time to Mikel and this proves and shows to other clubs to not panic when things go wrong. Sometimes, finishing eighth and almost making it to the Champions League but just falling short, just having that process, and it is a process.
“The club understood that it took time to achieve it. I still believe they are way ahead of where they thought they’d be at this moment.
“Players like Saka and Nketiah, they came from the academy, they cost nothing to the club. And they’ve maintained that belief and the results are paying off.”