After a draw against Southampton on Sunday, Arsenal is still on top of the Premier League standings, passing league leaders Manchester City and bitter rivals Tottenham. Last season Arsenal tried to make the top four but they couldn’t.
After a year, there has been a significant change in the makeup of Arsenal. Instead of being vulnerable to aerial assaults and being weak, Arteta’s warriors are now steely and unyielding and can deflect high balls into the air.
It’s a significant turnabout for Arteta, who hired Nicolas Jover as a set-piece specialist last summer, importing the esoteric Frenchman from Manchester City, where the two had previously collaborated while Pep Guardiola was the Etihad’s head coach.
His influence became apparent right away as the Gunners rose to prominence as Deadball kings of the Premier League completely at odds with the reputation of being a team that plays with its feet firmly on the ground that Arsene Wenger spent years building in north London. But it’s important to highlight how adaptable Arteta’s new Arsenal team is.
Arsenal finished third in the whole Premier League in set-piece goals (16), joint-fourth in direct set-piece assists (8), and fifth in predicted set-play goals during the 2021–22 season (15.06). Additionally, they only allowed eight goals from set pieces, which was the sixth-best league performance.