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Hundred up at Arsenal for Mikel Arteta as he pursues longevity at the top

Hundred up at Arsenal for Mikel Arteta as he pursues longevity at the top
Arsenal boss faces Watford this weekend.

Mikel Arteta reaches a century of games in charge of Arsenal when they host Watford on Sunday but he admits he needs the “recipe” from counterpart Claudio Ranieiri for how to keep going into the thousands.

The Spaniard took over at the Emirates Stadium in December 2019 and has won the FA Cup and Community Shield since replacing Unai Emery.

In his first managerial post, Arteta has also struggled at times and his position was questioned during a stuttering spell last winter.

He survived, however, and now welcomes Ranieri’s Hornets to north London with Arsenal unbeaten in nine games across all competitions – and with only George Graham able to boast a better winning record from his first 100 games as Gunners boss.

Asked to sum up his own road to 100 matches, which has included trophies, contracting Covid and managing behind closed doors during the pandemic, Arteta replied: “An incredible and big journey.

“A lot has happened, not only at the football club but around the world. That obviously has had a huge impact in everything that we have lived in the last two years.

“But I am so privileged to be where I am and I am really enjoying the opportunity and the challenge that we have ahead.

“I think we all update any year like any computer. With everything that has happened to us, even more so.

“I am different (from his first game in charge), I see things differently, you evolve in certain ways, you learn a lot of things. We keep evolving.”

Ranieri took over at Watford last month, just weeks before celebrating his 70th birthday.

The Italian, who won the Premier League at Leicester and has also managed Chelsea and Fulham, has long surpassed 1,000 matches in the dugout.

Claudio Ranieri recently turned 70 and has managed well over 1000 games. (Tess Derry/PA)

“I need that recipe! How they have done it,” Arteta said of the long-serving managers, which also now include his former Everton boss David Moyes after he reached the four-figure milestone on Thursday night.

“As well it’s very interesting to understand what happened in their families – because I think they would have to have outstanding wives, kids and family around them to be able to do that for such a long time.

“But for David I am extremely happy for him, because I know him and I admire him personally. It’s great I think for British football to have these managers.

“I am nowhere near, I would like to have their recipe to see how they’ve done it to stay in the game for so long. I know David, the enjoyment and the passion that he still has for the game, because I worked with him.”

Arteta could name an unchanged side for the third game running this weekend, although Kieran Tierney’s return to fitness could earn him a recall.

Two players expected to start are Ben White and Emile Smith Rowe with the pair both having missed out on a place in Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad.

“Gareth has to make so many difficult decisions, he has so many choices,” added Arteta.

Emile Smith-Rowe missed out on an England call-up despite a fine run of form. (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“What I like is that our players are performing at a level that I am sure they are giving problems in selection to Gareth and the coaching staff, and that is what pleases me because I know they have the level to do it and it will be about the timing when the manager decides it is the right moment to select them.

“I think our objective should be to prepare the players with the right mindset to have the biggest ambitions.

“They should have the biggest ambitions, and that’s probably why they are performing the way that they are performing and it will come. They have to respect those decisions, and not let it end in disappointment because this is a long run.”