•Their trajectory looks on course for Champions League qualification, which would be a big step forward under Arteta, who has already overseen change at the club during his three-year reign.
•The 2-1 win against Fulham marked his 100th Premier League game in charge of the club and the contrast between his first 50 and the second is remarkable.
Things could not be any better for Arsenal at the moment after their comeback win over Fulham ensured they won their first four Premier League games of the season for just the third time.
It’s a stat with good vibes for the Gunners: in 2003-04 they went on to win the title and in 2004-05 they finished runners-up.
Talk of winning the title at this early stage is a stretch—Mikel Arteta said himself they were in for a “long, long marathon” — but Arsenal have shown plenty in the opening weeks to give fans optimism.
Their trajectory looks on course for Champions League qualification, which would be a big step forward under Arteta, who has already overseen change at the club during his three-year reign.
The 2-1 win against Fulham marked his 100th Premier League game in charge of the club and the contrast between his first 50 and the second is remarkable. So what has changed at Arsenal under the Spaniard?
The most tangible difference is a shift in the mentality of his players.
England forward Bukayo Saka was buoyant after the latest victory, saying: “We’re all so hungry to win each game. We’re going to continue like this for the whole season.”
Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith said there was a “belief” that had built gradually. “It hasn’t been the most difficult start but it has been faultless. Now they look to the harder challenges and go into them with real confidence. It was a learning curve last season but now it bodes really well for a really good season.”
That belief was displayed in the Fulham victory, as Arsenal were tested by the newly promoted side and forced to come from behind after a mistake from defender Gabriel allowed Aleksandar Mitrovic to score the opener.
When the Brazil defender wandered back into position for kick-off, with his hands on his hips after pulling his shirt over his head, there was a danger Gabriel would allow his mistake to consume him.
Instead, captain Martin Odegaard’s persistence, along with a bit of luck, led to a swift equaliser and Arsenal reacted strongly to gather momentum.
Gabriel redeemed himself with the 85th-minute winner, making sure he was first to the ball in a scramble from close range to give Arsenal all three points for the fourth game in a row.
There was an outpouring of celebration from the stands at a raucous Emirates Stadium, while injured Oleksandr Zinchenko leapt into Gabriel’s arms in a display of the growing togetherness at Arsenal.
“After I lost the ball my head was down, but my brothers kept saying ‘let’s go’. I lifted my head up — my teammates were a big help to me,” Gabriel said afterwards.
Odegaard added: “He showed great character to come back and score the winning goal. It shows the character of the team. When someone makes a mistake, we lift them back up.”
Former England and Arsenal midfielder Karen Carney said Arteta wanted to get the right culture and Saturday’s win showed they are “building something”.
“What character. It looked like being one of those days. It was not a great game but they got it done and we haven’t seen that from an Arsenal side for a long time,” she added.
“It is a big boost, winning like this is really nice. We made a mistake and they punished us but then how we reacted against adversity, the connection with the supporters, the way we went about it, the team believed,” said Arteta.
“They wanted to win the match, they went for it and we managed to do it. Gabriel has shifted his life, the way he looks after himself. He has enough physically and mentally to overcome those situations and I’m so happy for him.”
Smith added: “Optimism is overflowing. It’s a really exciting young team. The noise levels (at Emirates)... I haven’t heard it like for that 10 years.
“I think Arsenal are a better team than last season and top four will be their aim. All good teams are measured on being in the Champions League.”
Arteta’s 100 games in charge
-Arteta picked up 75 points in his first 50 games in charge (W21 D12 L17).
-He picked up 100 points in his second 50 games in charge (W32 D4 L14).
-Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp won just one more game during his first 100 games than Arteta has with Arsenal.
-Arteta has won the same amount of games with Arsenal as Ole Gunnar Solksjaer did in his first 100 with Manchester United, while the Spaniard has won one more than Mauricio Pochettino did with Tottenham en route to the same milestone.
-In his past 50 games, Arteta has won more than all of those three opposition managers during the same timeframe and earned just two points fewer than Solksjaer’s Manchester United.
-To put it in perspective, the 32 games won by Arteta in his 51st-100th game in charge is just two fewer than Pep Guardiola did with Manchester City in his first half century of games at the club.