6 players that Mikel Arteta has improved at Arsenal: Xhaka, Saka…

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Mikel Arteta manager of Arsenal embraces Gabriel Martinelli

Under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal are riding high on confidence and currently sit at the top of the Premier League table.

In particular, Arteta has improved plenty of the players that were at the club before he arrived, turning them into genuine contenders for the title.

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 by the Spanish manager.

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.

As a reward for his work, the manager has been given a new contract at the club which is seen by many as long overdue.

“It’s great to be where we are, we are enjoying that moment,” Arteta explained following their 2-0 win at Wolves. “We have a big break, we have to reflect on what we are doing and we are very much prepared for what is to come after the World Cup.

“When a team is in the moment you want to carry on playing. It’s not possible so we have to use the time now in the best possible way.”

Here are six players that have improved under Arteta already.

Granit Xhaka

The Swiss midfielder has completely changed his fortunes at Arsenal since Arteta has joined the club.

It is some turnaround from the man who stormed off the pitch to the boos of the Gunners at the Emirates a few years ago.

“I was done with Arsenal. Finished. There was a contract on the table from another club and all I had to do was sign. I had talked with my wife, Leonita, and we had decided to leave,” he told the Players Tribune earlier this year.

“Our suitcases were literally placed by the door. But then Mikel began to talk about how I was a big part of his plans. I liked his warmth. He was honest, straight. Clear plans. I felt I could trust him.

“I understand that we [him and Arsenal fans] will never be best friends, but I hope we can treat each other with honesty and respect.”

Bukayo Saka

Sure, some of it has come with age. 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 is now on track for his best season yet.

Oh, and add to that the fact he’s an England regular too. Mr. Arsenal is just getting started.

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.

Nearly a year on, Smith-Rowe has paid back that faith and continued his progression as a serious first-team prospect for the Gunners this campaign.

Injuries have somewhat hampered his development of late, but there’s no questioning how much he has improved under Arteta. Things are only going in one direction, and it isn’t downwards.

Aaron Ramsdale

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 24-year-old was able to displace Bernd Leno in his debut season and he hasn’t looked back since.

The English goalkeeper is now one of the highest-rated shot-stoppers in the league and he is capable of the spectacular.

Martin Odegaard

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.

READ: Call 999, Odegaard stole Bergkamp’s soul & is keeping it in his left sock

Gabriel Martinelli

Gabriel Martinelli’s development under Arteta hasn’t gone unnoticed as he has managed to earn a call-up to the Brazilian squad ahead of the World Cup.

The 21-year-old has started in all 14 of Arsenal’s Premier League matches so far and has scored five goals and got two assists.

The winger is now almost the perfect blend of flair and final product thanks to Arteta’s coaching.


READ MORE: The Premier League table since Arsenal hired Mikel Arteta in 2019