An unlikely FA Cup triumph cannot mask 12 months of average league form under a manager yet to convince

As a brisk December breeze swirled through Goodison Park’s stands, a fresh wind was sweeping in at Arsenal. Mikel Arteta looked on from the front row of the directors’ box, flanked by the chief executive, Vinai Venkatesham, and the then head of football, Raul Sanllehi, the day before he officially took charge. He was hardly alone in furrowing his brow during a tedious stalemate between his new side and Everton, who were about to begin their own renewal, but inside his heart was soaring. “I remember sitting in the stands and thinking: ‘I can’t wait to start working with the players and the club,’” he said on Friday.

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Arteta has been dogmatic in refusing to offer the exiled Mesut Özil a bone before any creative cavalry can arrive

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