Mikel Arteta will ensure that any “bad influences” are quickly moved out of Arsenal, says Alan Smith, with the January transfer window expected to see a new midfielder acquired and a fresh approach end the “car crash” defending which has plagued Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners have announced the arrival of another Spaniard as successor to Unai Emery, with their former club captain lured back to north London from his assistant manager role alongside Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
Arteta is considered to have much work to do, with Arsenal having struggled to free themselves from the rut which they first slipped into towards the end of Arsene Wenger’s iconic 22-year spell at the helm.
Smith believes the right character has been found for a demanding role, with the former Gunners striker telling the Evening Standard: “I think we will see his influence fairly quickly.
“This tough, uncompromising character knows exactly what he wants in terms of work ethic and overall style. Anyone unwilling to follow will get very short shrift. They won’t get a look-in under the Spaniard.
“For that reason, we might see certain individuals being moved on, possibly in January, the summer at the latest. Unfortunately, there are some bad influences in that dressing room, only interested in themselves. They’ve got to be shifted fairly sharpish, if at all possible.
“As for the style of play, if Arteta wants to follow the Manchester City blueprint, he’ll seek to bring in a Fernandinho type, someone capable of both protecting the defence and quickly moving the ball forward from that pivotal slot at the base of midfield.
“To be fair, that may require inspiration from the recruitment team, seeing as Arsenal’s budget just now might not stretch to an expensive ready-made answer.
“Just ahead of that position, I could see Arteta working hard on Matteo Guendouzi, an obvious talent, blessed with the right attitude. Some lessons in movement and decision-making could transform the young Frenchman into a top player.
“The same could be said for the two full-backs, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney. It’s just a pity that Tierney will be out for a while. For me, Rob Holding is another who could make vast leaps forward with the right tuition in a solid system. God knows, Arteta needs someone to make the grade in central defence, a car-crash department in recent times.”
Arteta has arrived at a club with only one win to its name from its last 12 outings across all competitions, with Arsenal considered to be in need of a rescue mission rather than return to prominence.
Smith expects that to buy the new manager time, adding: “My old club isn’t going to get relegated and neither is it going to make the top four.
“As a result, Arteta can, hopefully, go about his work free of expectations, planning for next season, when proper progress should be made.”