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Arsene Wenger’s legacy gave me doubts over Arsenal job – Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta is aiming for Champions League football (Bradley Collyer/PA)
Mikel Arteta is aiming for Champions League football (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Mikel Arteta admits a part of him was wary of taking the Arsenal job as the spectre of Arsene Wenger continued to loom over the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners host Manchester United on Saturday with the visitors having announced Erik ten Hag as their new manager on Thursday.

The Dutchman will become the fifth permanent manager to take the hot seat at Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 when he leaves Ajax this summer.

Arsene Wenger and Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta, right, played under Arsene Wenger (Nick Potts/PA)

Arsenal were in a similar position when Arsene Wenger stepped down following 22 years at the helm with Unai Emery, his initial replacement, sacked after less than two years in charge.

Arteta was next through the door, the former Arsenal captain winning the FA Cup in his first campaign, but he said a little part of him was still uncertain of following in Wenger’s footsteps.

“It did (cross my mind when taking the job),” he said.

“But it was tiny in comparison to the excitement and the opportunity that I saw to join this club and try to do what we all wanted to do, which is to get it back to where Arsene took it at the highest level and obviously that desire was much bigger than the worries of failure.”

Arteta revealed he had come close to leaving his assistant manager’s role at Manchester City to immediately replace Wenger – only for Emery to land the job.

“It was close, but things happen for a reason and it probably was too soon,” he added.

“There are people who made the decisions and they made a different decision. They signed another exceptional coach that again is showing in Villarreal how good he was.

“But sometimes it’s not about the capacity of a person, it’s the capacity of the context that you showed or the team that it fits, if it’s the right moment or not the right moment, sometimes it’s not about the capacity, it’s about the timing.

“The thing is, the expectations of this club are going to be always the best because we’re going to compare all the time with the beautiful moments that we lived together here. There is no choice when is the perfect moment, I don’t know.”

Ralph Rangnick will still be in charge of United for the remainder of the season as they look to usurp Arsenal in the battle for Champions League qualification.

Asked directly about Ten Hag’s appointment, Arteta added: “I think he’s been really good, what he did a couple of years ago in the Champions League, especially the way his teams play. It’s a Man United decision, there’s nothing more to say.

“For us there is no impact (on Saturday’s fixture), for them I don’t know what’s going to happen but for us nothing changes.”