Mikel Arteta has added a new addition to his Arsenal backroom team in the form of a chocolate Labrador in an effort to reduce his players’ stress levels, according to reports.
The Gunners’ title hopes took a significant dent last weekend when they were beaten 3-0 at home to Brighton, leaving them four points adrift of Manchester City having played a game more.
Arsenal can close the gap back to one point if they beat Nottingham Forest on Saturday evening, though City can wrap up a third straight title by beating Chelsea on Sunday.
Although they have fallen just short of glory, it has been a massively encouraging season for the north Londoners – though it may have taken its toll on the squad.
According to The Times, Arteta has felt the need to enhance the mood at Arsenal’s London Colney training ground by recruiting a chocolate Labrador.
The dog spends most days at the training ground and has a primary carer who looks after her, while she gets on well with London Colney’s resident cat, Bob.
Arteta has chosen a rather interesting name for his latest recruit, with the canine affectionately called ‘Win’ – something Arsenal only managed to do twice in their last seven games as their title tilt collapsed.
The Spanish coach is well known for his little quirks and gimmicks, which were well documented in the Amazon Prime documentary All or Nothing which followed the team last season.
During that campaign, Arteta was seen drawing pictures, rigging up speakers to play You’ll Never Walk Alone before a trip to Anfield and even holding up a lightbulb in the dressing room.
He has also been keen to flood the training ground with positive reinforcement and messages, something which may have played a part in the dog’s name.
Win was brought in last month after Arteta read research showing that petting a dog can be calming, improve a mood and reduce stress levels.
He also feels the dog’s presence can add to the spirit of togetherness that has been created over the course of the season and it is the sort of marginal gain and quirky idea he is always looking out for.
Arteta actually walked the Labrador into the boardroom this week to watch Aaron Ramsdale sign a new contract, with the goalkeeper pledging his long-term future to the Gunners.