Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says he has only heard good things about Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa from Pep Guardiola and Mauriccio Pochettino.
Arteta takes his Arsenal side to Elland Road to face Bielsa and Leeds on Sunday night, and ahead of the game, the Spaniard has been expressing his admiration for his opposite number this weekend.
Sunday night’s match will be the first time that Arteta and Bielsa have gone up against each other in a league game, with both clubs looking to bounce back from disappointing defeats before the international break.
They did however, meet in an FA Cup tie at the start of this year, with Arteta’s side running out 1-0 winners at The Emirates after a tight encounter with a then-Championship side Leeds.
Arteta is also a former teammate of Pochettino, and ex-assistant of Guardiola at Manchester City. Both Pochettino and Guardiola are vocal admirers of Bielsa, and it seems that is something they have imprinted onto the Arsenal manager as well.
Speaking ahead of the game about what the pair have told him about Bielsa, Arteta was quoted by The Daily Mail as saying: “All positive and incredible things.
“First his work rate, the amount of hours that he puts in, the details, and the people around him to support, help and always evolve his ideas, and then who he is as a person. And that’s all really well respected by everybody that works alongside him.
“He has a unique way of training, of putting things together, and making a team play the way that every single player believes in what they have to do, and even if he’s difficult and challenging they still do it.”
Indeed, it seems Arteta has also created his own positive impression of Bielsa over time, and in particular his communication with his players, with the Arsenal manager going on to add: “I admire him he’s had a really challenging career, but what he’s managed to do – without winning many many trophies – but put a stamp on the football world is a big big merit to him.
“At the end of the day, you need them [the players] to perform for you, for the team and for the club, and when the relationships are good, when you have that trust, when you have that empathy, I think everything is much more natural,’ he said.
“When you are able to understand the person behind the football player you can get much more from him, and I think he [Marcelo Bielsa’s] very talented and clever at that, and that’s why he’s able to create the spirit among the team that you can see every week.”
When you hear so many managers making comments like this, it does kind of put to bed any debate about Bielsa’s standing as a coach.
There aren’t many people in the world who as much about football as Guardiola, Pochettino and Arteta, and the fact they all rank him so highly, shows just how good he is, regardless of the argument about winning trophies you often see.
Given his comments here, you can also be sure that Arteta will not be underestimating Leeds on Sunday, meaning this could be a fascinating encounter, in what feels like a big games for both these teams coming off the back of some damaging defeats.