7 players that Mikel Arteta has improved at Arsenal: Xhaka, Trossard…
Under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal go into the Spring international break eight points clear at the summit of the Premier League table. 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, turning them into the favourites 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.
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.
Arteta has praised his players for stepping up.
“We knew the importance of Gabi, what he was bringing to the team and the way he transformed this period and the belief and in the end the level of performance we could reach,” the Arsenal boss said, having been asked how they could cope without Gabriel Jesus.
“But to be fair the team took a step forward, individually players took more responsibility and they were really keen to maintain that level.
“We have done that so far, it’s really pleasing to see players are not looking for an excuse or look aside and expect someone else to do it, but they took initiative and developing those leadership qualities is really important.”
Here are seven players that have improved under Arteta.
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 last 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.”
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’s now enjoying his best campaign yet.
Saka is the only player in the Premier League to hit double figures for both goals and assists this season. Mr. Arsenal is just getting started.
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
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 this season, but there’s no questioning how much he has improved under Arteta. He’s been a peripheral figure in the title charge this year, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see Smith-Rowe produce some big moments during the run-in.
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 goalkeeper is now one of the highest-rated shot-stoppers in the league and he is capable of the spectacular. Now to challenge Jordan Pickford for England’s No.1?
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.
READ: Call 999, Odegaard stole Bergkamp’s soul & is keeping it in his left sock
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.
The Gunners have won all six of their matches since Trossard came into the starting XI, and that’s surely no coincidence. He has six assists in his last five starts for the Gunners.
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 21-year-old has started 27 of Arsenal’s 28 Premier League matches so far and has scored 13 goals and got two assists. He’s 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.”
READ MORE: Comparing Arsenal’s 2022-23 record to the Invincibles at the same stage
TRY A QUIZ: Can you name Arsenal’s XI from Mikel Arteta’s first match as boss?