Mikel Arteta is just a few days away from his second full season as Arsenal manager.
Gooners have been on an emotional rollercoaster since Unai Emery was sacked in 2019 and there have been multiple occasions where it seemed inevitable that Arteta would meet the same fate.
Arsenal’s pre-season campaign
And while it remains to be seen whether that will be the case or not, Gooners have been given a taste of what’s to come across a number of fascinating pre-season friendlies regardless.
The clashes with Hibernian, Rangers, Millwall and Watford certainly gave fans plenty in the way of food for thought, but proceedings have ramped up even more in the last few weeks.
And having emerged from a tantalising clash with Chelsea on the wrong side of a 2-1 scoreline, the Gunners proceeded to lock horns with none other than their north London rivals on Sunday.
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Tottenham vs Arsenal
Travelling to Tottenham Hotspur so close to the season proper was always going to be fascinating and rest assured that there was plenty of needle despite the game officially being a ‘friendly’.
Besides, it didn’t take a body language expert to establish that Arteta was fired up for the occasion and that couldn’t have been clearer than with an amusing moment early in the second half.
That’s because the Arsenal coach was involved in a heated exchange with Pierre-Emile Højbjerg on the touchline that included everything from shushing gestures to tense verbal barbs.
Arteta and Højbjerg’s heated exchange
According to Chris Wheatley, the Tottenham midfielder was asking Arteta to return to his technical area, which went down like a lead balloon with the visibly-impassioned Arsenal coach.
Arteta proceeded to gesture for Højbjerg to quieten down before pointing his finger into the chest of the former Bayern Munich midfielder when they came within a few inches of each other.
Given Højbjerg’s reputation as a tough and steely general in the Spurs midfield, you certainly can’t fault Arteta’s bravery for taking on the challenge, so be sure to check out the footage down below:
Arteta pumped for 2021/22
Pre-season friendly or not, you can rest assured that north London derbies will always have plenty in the way of drama, passion and raw emotion.
That being said, it was still surprising to see one of the more muted and reserved Premier League managers essentially squaring up to an opposition player for what appeared to be a trivial reason.
But if anything, that really goes to show just how impassioned Arteta is to make his second full season count because it could make or break his career at Emirates Stadium.
To make sure it’s the former, he’ll have to silence more than just Højbjerg in the months to come.