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‘Arsenal a work in progress but big turnaround enjoyed’ – Keown encouraged by Arteta’s impact

The former Gunners defender saw plenty of positives in a 4-0 win over Newcastle, but accepts that there is still much improvement to be made

Arsenal remain “very much a work in progress”, admits Martin Keown, but Mikel Arteta is considered to have overseen a “big turnaround” in his short time at the helm.

Consistency has remained an issue for the Gunners throughout the 2019-20 campaign.

A change in the dugout which saw Unai Emery replaced by fellow Spaniard Arteta has done little to change that.

Arsenal did, however, collect a second Premier League victory under their new coach when sweeping aside Newcastle 4-0 on Sunday.

That success is considered to be another positive step in the right direction for the north London outfit, with important pieces of the puzzle starting to slot into place.

They remain far from the finished article but, with 13 league draws to their name this term, are proving tough to beat and have been offered fresh hope in an ongoing bid to secure a seat back at Europe’s top table.

Former Gunners defender Keown told BBC Sport on the back of a rousing win over Newcastle: “This week’s shock news that Manchester City could miss out on a place in next year’s Champions League means that a fifth-place finish could be enough for a place in next year’s competition.

“Sunday’s victory means that the Gunners are six points behind north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who hold that fifth position after a last-minute winner at Aston Villa.

“But this Arsenal team are still very much a work in progress.

“After all, they started the weekend level on points with Newcastle, who now look in trouble after defeat. That could have been Arsenal.

“Arteta has some selection issues to contend with after leaving Alexandre Lacazette, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lucas Torreira and Gabriel Martinelli on the bench – with all of them having good arguments to be in the starting XI.

“The positives were that Lacazette came on to end a nine-game wait for a goal with the late fourth, and that the Gunners look like a very together squad.

“They all celebrated together at the end, with Martinelli, who did not even get off the bench, laughing and joking on the pitch.

“The winning feeling has eluded them on too many occasions this season but this was a big turnaround for Arteta and Arsenal.”

Arsenal are about to divert their attention away from domestic matters and towards the first leg of a Europa League last-32 encounter with Olympiacos, while an FA Cup fifth-round clash with Portsmouth is also fast approaching as part of their efforts to land major silverware in 2020.

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