Unbeaten in 2020. Three wins in a row. In his first managerial position, Mikel Arteta is riding a wave and his team are looking like a serious proposition.
The Arsenal board will be rubbing their hands with glee. Their new manager has managed to turn this sinking ship around and is steering it to safety. He hasn't needed any serious financial investment. Instead, Arteta has steadily improved his in-house stock.
His players seem to really understand their roles. Continuity undoubtedly helps. In the 4-2-3-1 system, he seems to have settled on the Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz centre-back partnership. Granit Xhaka has been a mainstay in the double-pivot with Lucas Torreira and Dani Ceballos taking turns to partner the Swiss international. Mesut Ozil has been a regular in the number-ten slot.
Under Unai Emery, there was never a set system, there was never continuity between those selected and there was a sense that the Spaniard was slipping down a rabbit hole. He axed Ozil and then tried to integrate him back into the team. Lack of conviction. He threw Xhaka under a bus when his captain came under scrutiny from fans. Lack of balls.
The idea that the former Sevilla and Valencia manager was harshly treated is a false narrative. After a promising first season, he simply buckled under the pressure. Arteta will not wilt. He is a confident man who, after years of shadowing Pep Guardiola, has a toolbox of goods to succeed at the highest level.
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang is a gem. He guarantees goals and, right now, he's showcasing there are more strings to his bow than simply putting the ball in the net. Keeping the Gabon international is of top priority. It is by no means a guarantee, though.
Aubameyang will turn 31 in June and will be desperate to win trophies. He was in the Bundesliga's second-best team, Borrusia Dortmund, and Arsenal have always been top-four chasers. This could be his final opportunity to win some silverware with Barcelona and Inter Milan ready to pounce.
Arteta's biggest challenge will be to convince the striker to buy into his project. So far, the signs are good but the Gunners are still light-years away from the summit of English football. But, with Aubameyang entering the final 12-months of his contract in July, Arsenal will have to sell their talisman unless they can get him to sign an extension.
Arsenal's underwhelming January transfer window is perhaps an indicator of their future dealings. The club have adopted a financial model, as illustrated by Forbes, whereby they pay transfer fees over the next four summer windows. Nicolas Pepe's £72m fee works out at £14.4m-per-season. Either way, it highlights the challenges that they face in the modern market.
Saliva over Saliba
The club will welcome William Saliba in July and the youngster could be ready to make a huge impact. Arteta will appreciate Saliba's excellent raw attributes. He's big, he's fast, he positions himself well and he's good on the ball. Obviously, the 18-year-old still has a lot of developing to do but it will be something that Arteta would love to oversee.
Ultimately, Arsenal won't be making big statements in the transfer market. If Aubameyang goes then the club will act. Wilfried Zaha would be a potential replacement. But, other than that, it's hard to see the club splashing crazy cash.
If anything, they will see Arteta as a man who can save them some serious cash. On the other hand, Arteta may not accept the same flimsy backing that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been given at Manchester United. They can't take the Spaniard for granted.