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Holiday Road - Mikel Arteta takes the kids on vacation

The Gunners get a brief respite from the winter blues

Arsenal Players Go On a Desert Safari Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Athletes - they’re just like us! They go to their jobs every day, get stuck in traffic, return to their homes, and vent about their days to their families. And, when they need a break, they pack up the family and take vacations. Sure, their jobs pay obscene amounts of money, and their cars, homes, and vacations tend to cost many times more than we make in a year, but now we’re just splitting hairs.

Speaking of vacations, with the Premier League winter break under way, Mikel Arteta packed the whole Arsenal family into the proverbial van and took them on a week-long jaunt to sunny Dubai to stretch their legs, escape the dreary London winter, and get in a little training in between.

So what have the Gunners been up to? Let’s find out!

Group trips to the desert? Very neat!

Even the training looks like a hoot!

And let us not forget a little old-fashioned tom-foolery between buddies:

Let’s face it - it’s fun to see the gang having fun. Lord knows they have needed it. After a dreary spell of draws and a depressing season as a whole, it would be an understatement to say that Arsenal were in need of the current Premier League winter break. Between managerial changes and frustrating performances, Arsenal have managed to make the majority of the season feel like an eternity.

Sure, the specter of the immense failure that was Unai Emery is still hanging around, as evidenced by comments by the players on the, well, lack of cohesion and unity under the now-departed Spaniard. But the Gunners still have a third of a season ahead of them, and new manager Mikel Arteta had the unenviable task of trying to right a ship that was halfway underwater when he took over.

Despite the new sense of identity and improved performances, the Gunners are still in a tough spot - the kind of spot that could see several key players leave the club if they cannot find a way out of it.

So, what does this have to do with a fun winter break trip? Well, potentially quite a bit! If anything can be parceled out from the comments from players, there was a glaring need for the team to grow together and build stronger bonds, both on and off the pitch. Arsenal bromances have long been a “thing” - Laca and Auba, Ozil and Flamini, and now, it would appear, Martinelli and Martinez. But those aren’t always indicative of total squad cohesion, which can be an impacting factor for teams - after all, wouldn’t you prefer to work alongside people you get along with?

Judging by the photos and social media posts, the Gunners’ trip was an immense success in that regard. They seem to have genuinely enjoyed their experience, and PR move aside, it looks like the kind of team building endeavor that actually worked! The players look happy and relaxed, not at all phased by the reality that they still have an uphill climb if they want to find their way back into the top four and finish the season in Champions League contention. Even the newest signings, Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares, looked like they have been embraced by their new team mates.

From a tactical standpoint, this was also a sorely needed trip. Arteta had little to no time to implement his tactics the way he presumably would have liked after taking over mid-season, having to instead fit the tactics in between match prep and general training. One would be able to assume that he has had the benefit of this break to focus on the skills and drills that will bring out the best in the players he inherited, as well as the ones he recently welcomed into the squad.

Maybe this is just another case of trying to desperately to read the tea leaves. Maybe we are just making a whole lot of something about nothing. Regardless of whether this has any significant outcome on the upcoming slate of winnable matches, we can all at least take solace in knowing that they are the undefeated champions of the Winter Break.