Arsenal will be back in Premier League action this weekend after their winter break.
Sky Sports pundit and Arsenal legend Charlie Nicholas has discussed the Gunners’ “intriguing” winter break and how he imagines the team to have shaped up after having spent an extended period of time with Mikel Arteta (Sky Sports News).
Arsenal’s players were given a few days off and have been spending time during the break at a warm-weather camp in Dubai (BBC Sport), enabling Arteta – who was appointed by the Gunners on 20 December – to properly take a look at, and coach, his players.
Arsenal were last in action on 2 February, a 0-0 draw away at Burnley, and are next in action on Sunday when they host Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium, the 10th-placed Gunners hoping to climb further into the top half of the Premier League table.
Nicholas believes that Arsenal are more together, with the bulk of the players showing more understanding of their expectations, but also reckons that there are still a few points which need to be ironed out, particularly regarding the roles and mindsets of some of the players.
“It has been an intriguing break for Arsenal,” Nicholas told Sky Sports News. “For the first time, Mikel Arteta can go and properly work with the players for an extended period of time. He is still trying to get his point across but Arsenal are more together and more understanding of what is expected of them, in terms of the commitment and togetherness.
“It is not bang on though. They are becoming a side that is hard to beat but Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still do not have the balance right in terms of scoring goals. People will question about whether Aubameyang likes playing on left.
“Lacazette also has no confidence at the moment, but let’s hope it is more positive after the break. The unity and organisation at the back is still key, while we will have fresh players once more.”
Arsenal and Newcastle are level on points ahead of their match, two out of four sides currently on 31 points, and in the first meeting of the season, back in August, the Gunners ran out 1-0 winners at St James’ Park.