Under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal go into the 2023-24 season with aspirations to surpass last year’s second-placed finish. Needless to say, the Spanish coach has worked wonders at the Emirates.
In particular, Arteta has improved plenty of the players that were at the club before he arrived. He’s also been clever with his recruitment, bringing in young players who can fit the age profile of the rest of the squad and who will blend on the pitch with the team already established.
The young average age means that Arteta has a huge influence over the team, helping his young Gunners develop into the system and style of football that he wants to play.
Here are six players that have improved under Arteta.
Sure, some of it has come with age. And Saka was clearly a special talent when he made his debut under Unai Emery. But Arteta has helped turn Saka from an intriguing newbie to a bonafide Arsenal star boy.
His stats have improved year upon year under Arteta and he enjoyed his best campaign in 2022-23.
Mikel Arteta avoids answering whether Bukayo Saka is the "best player in the Premier League" right now 😅 pic.twitter.com/TNuByyxwGG
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 20, 2023
Emile Smith Rowe
It was a bold move when Arteta handed Smith Rowe the No.10 shirt ahead of the 2021-22 season, but the Spanish manager was sure of the attacker’s ability.
The Hale End academy graduate paid back that faith and continued his progression as a serious first-team prospect as the Gunners’ took a major leap forward last term, only narrowly missing out on a top-four finish.
Injuries have somewhat hampered his development last season, but there’s no questioning how much he has improved under Arteta.
He was a peripheral figure in last year’s title charge, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see Smith Rowe produce some big moments this season.
Plenty of people turned their noses up at this signing in the summer of 2021. After all, the goalkeeper had suffered back-to-back relegations with Bournemouth and Sheffield United.
The 25-year-old was able to displace Bernd Leno in his debut season and he hasn’t looked back since.
The goalkeeper is now one of the highest-rated shot-stoppers in the league and he is capable of the spectacular. Back him to see off David Raya’s challenge for his starting jersey.
Brendan Rodgers’ reaction to that Aaron Ramsdale save in the first half 😂 pic.twitter.com/FcgVnZ2u6j
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 13, 2022
When he first emerged into the public consciousness, Odegaard was declared ‘the Norwegian Messi’.
Now, under Arteta, he has broken free of such labels and carved out a name for himself in his north London home.
The Belgian was always decent at Brighton – Arsenal wouldn’t have signed him otherwise – but he seems to have taken his game to a new level since working under Arteta at Arsenal.
He made a hugely positive impact during the second half of last season and no title-winning squad has been without players of Trossard’s ilk contribution during a long campaign.
Hi, how may I assist you? 😉🤝 pic.twitter.com/jhaAll8FEq
— Leandro Trossard (@LTrossard) March 12, 2023
Gabriel Martinelli’s development under Arteta hasn’t gone unnoticed and he managed to earn a call-up to the Brazilian squad ahead of the World Cup.
The 22-year-old is now the perfect blend of flair and final product thanks to Arteta’s coaching.
“Gabi is still very young, so we know there’s still much more to come from him and it’s great that we’ll be on this journey together,” Arteta said of Martinelli after his well-deserved new contract.
“We’re now excited to continue to develop his huge talent and look forward to seeing him perform with Arsenal in the years to come.”