Arsenal’s emergence as title contenders has been one of the stories of the season in the Premier League, an unexpected leap for Mikel Arteta’s impressive side.
After missing out on Champions League football in 2021/22, the Gunners are eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table and chasing down a first league title for almost two decades.
Arteta and Edu deserve huge credit for their transformation of the north Londoners, having moved on overpaid and underperforming names in favour of youthful talent with a desire to improve.
The results have been evident this season and we’ve decided to rank Arteta’s best additions since his appointment as Arsenal manager in December 2019.
5. Gabriel Jesus
Arsenal’s search for a centre-forward took Mikel Arteta towards a familiar face last summer, as the Gunners completed a deal to sign Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City.
Arteta had worked alongside the Brazilian during his time on the coaching staff at City and agreed a £45m fee to bring Jesus to north London. The forward hit the ground running with five goals and four assists across his first nine appearances for Arsenal, as the Gunners title challenge began in impressive fashion.
Get it on repeat! 🔁 #ARSLEI pic.twitter.com/82Bfd1dQqJ
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 14, 2022
Jesus has brought a winning mentality to the north Londoners after four title wins at Manchester City, while his selfless work at centre-forward has set the tone for Arsenal’s high press. The 25-year-old might waste the odd opportunity around goal, but his work-ethic and ability to knit together attacks has made him the ideal option to lead Arteta’s attack.
His recent return from injury is a welcome boost for the Gunners, who are chasing down the Premier League title.
4. Thomas Partey
Arteta’s first summer transfer window saw the Gunners seal the deadline day signing of Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid, completing the £45m capture of the midfielder in the closing stages of the transfer period.
The Ghana international has struggled with fitness issues for much of his time in north London, but has provided authoritative presence when in the side. This season the 29-year-old has featured prominently for the table toppers, with his defensive screening of the back four allowing the likes of Granit Xhaka and Martin Odegaard to thrive further forward.
🔁 ON REPEAT 🔁 pic.twitter.com/jeY89E4HjF
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 2, 2022
Partey is athletic, cool in possession and a brilliant distributor when coming short to receive possession from the backline, a vital presence in the Arsenal side who both builds and breaks up attacks.
The importance of an elite ball-winner at the base of a midfield can not be understated and Arsenal possess one of the finest in the Premier League right now. Not since Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva worked in tandem have the Gunners had such assured presence anchoring the midfield.
3. Ben White
Ben White’s arrival at Arsenal was greeted with scepticism after the Gunners paid £50m to sign the defender from Brighton.
White had spent just one season as a regular in the Premier League with the Seagulls, but his performances were enough to persuade Arsenal to part with a club-record fee for a defender. The 25-year-old bounced back from a difficult debut at Brentford to grow into his role at Arsenal and has excelled during the current campaign following a move to right-back.
Outstanding technically, assured and versatile, his range of attributes have been crucial to the Gunners this season. White’s inter-changes with Bukayo Saka have been a feature of Arsenal’s game, with the England international comfortable underlapping or overlapping the winger to join the attack. His ability to step inside into midfield or form a back three when required have also been important to the flexibility of Arsenal’s title-chasing side.
His curious underuse with England, despite attributes well suited to international football, has perhaps prevented more widespread praise this season, but those at the Emirates are in no doubt over his quality. Alongside Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier he has been the best right-back in the division.
2. Oleksandr Zinchenko
Mikel Arteta raided his former side for new talent last summer as Arsenal agreed deals to bring in Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko from Manchester City.
The double deal was worth around £77m and has proven fine business in an inflated market, with each having brought trophy-winning experience to the squad. Zinchenko failed to command first-choice status at Manchester City for much of his time at the Etihad, but has emerged as a crucial cog in Arteta’s system.
#ad 💪 At the heart of everything
🔎 Take a look at the best of Zinchenko from our emphatic win over Crystal Palace
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) March 22, 2023
His ability to thrive when coming into midfield from left-back has allowed Granit Xhaka to push forward into a more dangerous role, with his technical ability and tactical intelligence allowing the Gunners to exert control.
It’s been fluid formations and football for much of the campaign at Arsenal, with Zinchenko key to the revolution of Arteta’s side. He might just be viewed as the transformative addition should the club’s title pursuit end in success.
1. Martin Odegaard
The wonderkid is beginning to fulfil his potential after a much needed change of scenery.
Odegaard was catapulted into the consciousness of football fans after signing for Real Madrid as a teenager, but his Spanish venture consisted of various loans and little opportunity at the Bernabeu. Arsenal took a chance on the midfielder and have since reaped the rewards, securing Odegaard on an initial loan before a £30m permanent deal was agreed.
⚡️ Quick feet?
🕰 Making time in the box?
😎 That's Martin Odegaard pic.twitter.com/joC1zeFnkw
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 31, 2022
Odegaard has evolved into the centrepiece of Arsenal’s exciting side, revelling in his responsibility as the Gunners club captain and creative hub. After an encouraging first full season he has moved up another level in 2022/23.
The 24-year-old has scored ten goals and laid on a further six assists, providing genuine competition to Kevin De Bruyne’s status as the Premier League’s most influential midfielder.
Arsenal have impressed with their slick attacking football this season and the club’s best moves rarely do not include Odegaard. His touch, technique and timing of pass have all shone for the north Londoners, who will feel that the surface has only been scratched on Odegaard’s potential.
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