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‘Slowly erasing scars’ – Rio Ferdinand insists future is bright for Arsenal under Mikel Arteta


Under manager Mikel Arteta, Arsenal are “slowly erasing those scars” that have haunted the club over the years, according to BT Sport’s Rio Ferdinand.

The Gunners have made a blistering start to the Premier League season, the 3-1 victory over Tottenham in the North London Derby cementing their place at the top of the table.

Arteta’s side have won seven of their eight games this season, a 3-1 loss to Manchester United is the only match they have dropped points in so far this campaign.

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It is a remarkable transformation from this time last year when Arteta was under huge pressure after overseeing the club’s worst start to the season in 118 years.

The club – who are without a Premier League title since 2004 and have not featured in the Champions League since 2016 – have been accused of having a ‘soft centre’ in recent years.

But Ferdinand believes Arsenal are now making huge progress with Arteta at the helm.

“They have come a massive way, the fact they’re top of the league tells you that,” he said.

“They’re chipping away at certain things that you could have held against them. People could say this season they hadn’t played a big team and won yet; they’ve chalked that off with the game today.

“They may be seen as a soft touch when they go to places like Brentford; they’ve pulled that off this season.

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“So they’re chalking off things that are going to be great, not only for them as a club, but also mentally individually. They’re slowly erasing those scars which can only bode well for the future under Mikel Arteta.”

Former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas echoed Ferdinand’s comments.

“I’m very happy because when Mikel took the job it was obviously a long way to go to see performances like this,” he said.

“You see a team that is improving, especially with maturity. In the second half Arsenal were very, very brave, they’ve managed the game very well.

“Really happy, very, very positive. To win a big game like this will bring a lot of confidence to the team.”

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He added: “You need to give confidence and trust to a young manager when he comes in. I think Mikel is slowly, slowly creating a super team.”

Arsenal had plenty of Player of the Match contenders, but it was captain Granit Xhaka who claimed the award.

Peter Crouch praised his “strength of character”, describing him as a “fan favourite” having overcome adversity earlier in his Arsenal creer.

Fabregas reserved special praise for William Saliba who he said could be “Arsenal’s centre back for the next 15, 20 years”.

Ferdinand was particularly impressed by the Frenchman’s composure.

He said: “He’s very strong, he’s mobile. He was the most composed centre-back on the pitch today.

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“In the first half, there were times in transition when Arsenal could have got hurt and how many times you see him come out with the ball, dance a little bit and then play it to another red shirt.

“At the top level you need to be calm and composed in pressure situations and at the moment he’s showing that beyond his years.

“I’m sure he will have a good career going forward. He’s only been here a little bit of time but he’s already becoming a fan’s favourite.”

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