Mikel Arteta can prove the doubters wrong if he’s given enough time, says Nigel Winterburn.
The Gunners had a rocky start to the season after losing their first three Premier League games, conceding nine goals in the process and failing to find the net.
But performances have improved in recent weeks, with back-to-back wins against Norwich and Burnley ahead of today’s north London derby.
Winterburn, who made over 400 appearances for the club and won three league titles, reckons there are glimmers of hope for the Emirates faithful.
“I hope Arsenal have started to turn a corner this season,” he said.
“I’ve been open and have tried not to be rude about the team, but I still see Arsenal as a massive work in progress.
“Arteta and the club have probably realised it’s a much bigger rebuilding job than they initially thought.
“They’ve chosen to bring in young players that they can develop, but that will take some time. Unfortunately though, with modern TV coverage and social media, if things go wrong, then you’re open to more criticism.
“They are well off the level required to be a top-four team, but there’s a clear picture of what the club are trying to do.
“But you have to bring supporters with you along the way and get them onside, and the only way they can do so is by winning games now.
“Everyone knew Burnley would be a tough fixture, but Arsenal controlled the first half.
“It was a battling performance, which is what you want to see.”
Arsenal’s upturn in form has coincided with Gabriel’s return to the team.
The Brazilian, a £27 million arrival from Lille in September 2020, was out of action with a knee injury for the clashes with Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City.
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Winterburn reckons the 23-year-old is the real deal.
“He’s the one centre half Arsenal have who is aggressive and looks like he really enjoys the battles against opposition,” he said.
“Occasionally, he gets himself turned by forward opposition by being too aggressive, but he will learn to adjust to his opposition. Against Burnley he was outstanding.
“I’m pleased that he is back in the team, and it gives Arteta another option for the backline. Now, all we need is some defensive consistency, in terms of personnel.”
* Winterburn was speaking to Paddy Power