Bielsa talks up Arsenal boss Arteta ahead of FA Cup clash

By Patric Ridge 5 January 2020 13
Bielsa talks up Arsenal boss Arteta ahead of FA Cup clash

Marcelo Bielsa insists Mikel Arteta has more credentials than just being a previous member of Pep Guardiola's coaching staff at Manchester City.

Arteta took over as Arsenal head coach in December following the dismissal of Unai Emery, the former midfielder leaving his position as Guardiola's assistant at the Premier League champions to take over at his old club.

The Gunners drew their first match under Arteta against Bournemouth before going down to Chelsea in his second game, though he claimed his first victory with a 2-0 win over Manchester United on New Year's Day.

Arsenal host Leeds United in the FA Cup third round on Monday, with Arteta praising Bielsa in his pre-match news conference.

Bielsa, returning the favour, believes Arteta has the potential to become a great coach on his own merit.

"I think that Guardiola is the best manager in the world and as a great manager of course he distributes responsibility to his staff," Bielsa told a news conference when asked how much impact Guardiola will have had on Arteta.

"Arteta's position on his staff was tough. It was important work, an important job. Arsenal didn't choose him just because he was a member of staff for Guardiola. This is just one fact. He is a person that has more qualities.

"The profile of one person depends on the job you have. If you are a manager, you have more media [attention]; if you are an assistant, you have less.

"When Arsenal play more matches, we are going to see more of the manager. In three matches, all he can do is try to get results. To make changes, you need a process and to keep doing this for a long time, but I can imagine how Arteta works."

One player who has already seemingly benefitted from Arteta's introduction at Arsenal has been Nicolas Pepe, who put in an impressive display against United, scoring the Gunners' opener eight minutes in.

Bielsa, who coached Pepe at Lille, believes the winger – who has so far failed to recapture the form he showed in Ligue 1 last term – will go on to prove his quality in the Premier League.

"Pepe is a great player with big resources and he is a goalscorer," Bielsa added. 

"He's a player who is able to unbalance a match. Obvious skills, then you have all of these skills in one player. It's just a matter of time to show those skills.

"He has shown them clearly. One thing is to have the skills, another is to have the skills and show it on the pitch. He does both. He has clearly shown his skills and is at a club where he deserves to be."

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