Every Arsenal player graded on their first year under Arteta

A Year Under Arteta – Each Player Graded by Dan Smith

This weekend marked the one-year anniversary of Mikel Arteta’s first job as the Arsenal manager. It’s a cruel irony that it happened at Everton.

Not just that it is his former club, but it was at Goodison Park 12 months ago where he and Carlo Ancelotti sat in the stands watching the two sides they were inheriting. If you remember the squad’s confidence was so low that day that Freddie Ljungberg was content to play out a 0-0 draw.

Self-esteem is so poor at the moment we would have bitten your hand off for the same result. So things change yet stay the same.

For a long time this year looked a successful one. You only have to go back as recent as September to find some readers on Just Arsenal predicting a title challenge and comparing our manager to Arsene Wenger, even claiming he was better. A lot of that was based on how he won the FA Cup, tactically out thinking both Man City and Chelsea, showing man management skills to get his players to believe in his ethos.

Many assumed, given that he was taught by Pep Guardiola that long term the ethos was to play the free-flowing football we are associated with.

What I wanted to do is rate the players under Arteta. He has been responsible for two halves of campaigns but both need be judged with some context.

Last December, Unai Emery had clearly lost the dressing room, so the current regime are not fully to blame for our worst finish in 25 years. For 3 months of that time football was cancelled due to Covid which means Arteta only had the luxury of 3 months to manage in front of crowds.

So when judging the players, what is a bigger factor to consider, December to August, or August to December (not scoring the summer signings including Elneny)?


Martinez – 9

Arteta’s biggest success story was turning a keeper, who for a decade wasn’t even our third-choice keeper, and making him a Premiership number 1 keeper.

Many gooners worried In July when Leno was ruled out for the season, but his replacement had a presence and calmness (especially in the air) which we haven’t had since.

The club would have benefited by having proper competition for Leno but as usual we prioritised money over ambition.


Leno -7

Not the world class keeper that some make out, but was better under Emery where he had to face more shots. He made mistakes against Chelsea, Everton and Olympiakos and simply hasn’t looked the same since return from injury.


Bellerin – 5

Seems to have lost his pace after a couple of serious injuries, no longer taking on his man. He is becoming a scapegoat to some fans, but others are just as bad.


Maitland-Niles – 6

Showed that he can tactically follow instructions in the FA Cup Semi Final and Final, but those remain his only truly great performances.


Cedric – 5

Going to give him a solid 5 as he hasn’t played enough, but when he had he has been solid if not spectacular. Not even our back up right back so it’s not obvious why we signed him? A place in squad could have gone to someone else.


Kolasinac- 3

Could never fault his effort but hasn’t been good enough for a while. Arteta never trusted him as a left back but did try him as a left-sided centre back. That experiment was quickly ended after he gifted Spurs a goal in the NLD .


Tierney -7

Kieran was great post-lockdown, showing tactical awareness to play as a centre back then plan when to bomb down the flank.

Constant formation changes mean he hasn’t had consistent run as a left back. At the moment he has been instructed to cross at every opportunity which isn’t working.


Saka -7

Injuries meant that Arteta handed him an opportunity at left back. Unlike other youngsters, he  almost immediately showed the personality they lacked to get on the ball and try and make things happen.

Some gooners although need to calm down with the praise and not put too much pressure on him. And he needs to improve his final ball.


Mustafi – 6

One of the first things Arteta did was to bring back Mustafi who had been frozen out by Emery. The German was the best of a bad bunch which suggests he maybe a falling out with management. He was playing every week till he got injured but since his return can’t get back into the team.


Luiz- 6

Rock bottom was his performance at Etihad but impressed many with how he bounced back. His two best displays were in the semi-Final and Final of FA Cup but should only play in a three though.


Holding – 6

Has been very good but not consistent. For every Old Trafford performance, he follows it up with getting the run around against Aston Villa.

One of the few who is showing some leadership. At age 25, he could become a better player under our current coach but will they have much longer to work with each other?


(Chambers being injured, Mari only played 2 Prem games under Arteta and the few times Sokratis played was as a make-shift full back so it is not fair to score)



Xhaka – 6

Not popular at the moment but go back to the FA Cup Final and everyone was saying how much Arteta had improved the midfielder. Where we needed him to be a leader though, he greatly let us down against Burnley.


Ceballos – 4

Had a great Cup Final but that’s about it.  It was only after lockdown that Arteta started Ceballos, dropping him deeper in midfield but he hasn’t done enough to earn a permanent move.


Willock -4

If this was judging him purely on the Europa League, he would get a higher score but, in the Premiership, still needs to prove he belongs at this level. He runs with the ball but has zero end product.

Unlike a Saka, Joe plays like he’s grateful to be playing for the team he loves and is scared to make a mistake


Reiss Nelson -3

Apart from against Liverpool when they already had won the League, name me another great game he has had? He is yet to show the bravery needed for this level, always playing the simple pass.


Ozil – 4

So I can only judge him on the games he played. From Jan – March he played every League Fixture where we didn’t lose. I have written plenty of times my theory on why he can’t get into our squad, but in terms of proving we could cope creatively without him; it couldn’t have gone worse.


Pepe- 4

Best display for us was FA Cup Final where he was fantastic at holding up the ball. It was strange that he started the season on the bench given how he played at Wembley.

With a year to settle into English Football many assumed he would this campaign prove why we spent all that money on him. He is yet to show he has the mentality to be one of our main leaders when we really need someone.


Lacazette -5

Started the year with a goal drought but was finding his scoring touch before the first lockdown. Started the season with 3 goals in consecutive matches but seems to have lost his smile.

Whatever the level of confidence you can never fault his work rate. You can’t say that about all of his peers.


Aubameyang – 7

It is very hard to score our captain. Fantastic in the second half of last season with Arteta admitting he doubted the strikers ability to press and defend from the front but he showed great tactical awareness to plan when to time his runs from the left side into the middle.

He hasn’t been the leader we needed this season. Not just has he lost his scoring touch but he’s not working as hard as he used too.


Eddie – 4

Scored against lesser teams in the cups but contribution in the League consists of coming off the bench, running into a defender and diving to the ground.



At the start of 2020 became one of our main leaders. While more senior players were going through the motions, Martinelli wasn’t scared to get on the ball and try and take the initiative. Let’s hope he can do it again.


Another piece of irony of course is this is the same time frame Carlo Ancelotti has had to work with Everton. If you were rating how many of the Toffees squad have improved under their new manager, I think they would be getting higher scores?


Let me know which Arsenal players you think have improved or declined having worked with Arteta for a year.


Be Kind In The Comments


Dan Smith

Tags Ancelotti Arteta


  1. Off topic of wr cant win at the moment at least I can take pleasure in Spurs so far losing 0-2 at home 🙂

    Anyone watch motd last night?
    The pundits were showing Pepes lack of desire to move/run and get into the box, him and Willian just walking around!

    1. 72M dollars..We could have gotten 2 decent players for that price.. Pepe always appeared to be a flop but some here thought he needed time. Denial is an awful thing..

      1. He is garbage. They looked at his stat in ligue 1 which is funny because half his goal that season were penalties. He can’t even dribble past players without leaving the ball.

      2. he needs to be given ultimatum to perform, he need to be direct in his approach, the coach needs to tell him, how expectations for him are high, i saw Saka played more direct in same position against everton. he has talent but his unseriousness and lack of passion is his doom

        1. You say be nice on the comments but unfairly rip into Nelson… “what’s he done apart from the goal against Liverpool… not brave enough for this level”.

          This tells me that you don’t watch the games properly. You’re the type of guy who listens to commentary and what the pundits say after games!

          How’s this for bravery… Reiss has more dribble attempts than any other player relative to his playing time. And in a team that collectively had less dribble attempts than 4 Wolves players when we played them I’d say he’s more than brave enough for this level.

          Don’t be out here slandering youth with no real substance

          1. Okay can you give me stats for goals and assists in the Leauge
            Tell you what , me 5 great games he has Had in the Leauge ?
            Because I do watch every game , I already know you can’t

  2. I don’t agree with some ratings, because some players never had enough chances to play under Arteta’s system and Bellerin was one of the main factors of our FA Cup win last season

    1. And his general comments were quite positive too! And yet a 4! The notion of objectivity gets lost when Ozil is concerned.

  3. Admin Pat,
    The rating for some players is off and a different yardstick seems to be used for different players. Two good examples would be Nelson and Martinelli. Nelson started a handful of league games in the 2019/2020 season starting with the Everton game, Ljungberg’s last game in charge. Arteta gave him a few more games in place of Pepe, and then reverted to Pepe. Since then he has played a few odd minutes in the league with only 2 substitute appearances in the league. For most days he does not even make the match day squad. Nelson has however been very bright in the Europa League, making it a wonder why he never makes the matchday squad when we are clearly struggling with creativity. The likes of Joe Willock are called on now and then.
    Martinelli had already made a mark under Emery when Arteta arrived. Arteta’s initial reaction to Martinelli was to leave him on the bench. He is another one who has played a handful of games under Arteta, and did not play a match since lockdown until this last game against Everton.

    1. Judge them on games played – Reiss Nelson 22_games last season
      Maitland Niles 32 games
      How many of them were great ?

  4. how many games did Martinelli played under MA to be included in your list?
    what did Bellerin do to you?, did you miss his sprint creative ball that led to winning goal in FA final?You completely ignored all his attacking contributions because of yoour personal opinion?
    ceballos contribution last season was a joke then?. if Martinez could get a 9 for his 6months contribution, doesnt ceballos deserve better for same period.
    i can see lots of ratings based on sentiments, the little game Ozil had, he deserver average rating and Willock is spectacular in UEL, you are having generall rating, other competitions should be considered as well

  5. Whether everyone agrees on the rating or not, everyone would agree with the summary.

    Ancelotti and Arteta started the journey together, one is leading the team to the summit whereas the other is still struggling to setup his base camp. Difference in experience is clearly visible.

  6. Unfortunately you have to rate three players not just on their field performance but on their contribution to Arsenal, so
    Xhaka , poor corner takin, poor shots on target ,poor vision in attack, looses his temper when he looses the ball.
    Elnenny ,only made one forward pass in last night’s game, builds up his accurate pass rate with short pass backs ,going no where.advantageous to the team, spends his time avoiding confrontation with opposing team players. Makes one charge into the area in each game to impress the manager.
    Belereign, no longer speedy , looses the ball more often than keeping it, poor throw ins ,basic stuff. Not a big player anymore.

    All these players were involved in the demise of Arsen Wenger and Emery, it is the one constant area that needs changing before the good players are corrupted.
    Willian is now too slow in reactions to be at the coal face
    Pepe either walked or jogged for most of last night’s game.
    Holding lost out on all of his headers ,with the ball coming from the opposition, the opposition player won them all. He was desperately out of position.
    Nekieta ,not brave enough in the first team.
    Arteta is at fault for picking them and not listening to his analyst.
    A second analyst in front of a television screen would be of great benefit.

  7. I couldn’t help noticing that essentially all the players rated at 5 or less share common traits:
    – lack of speed and physical intensity;
    – no physical presence to dominate the game;
    – lack of solid, fundamental skills;
    – weak in one v one battles.
    This probably explains why we are unable to compete well against other teams with powerful athletes. I accept the fact that this rating is not based on real science, but I think it is clearly telling us something important about the current squad and where we need to improve for the future.

  8. To be fair this is Dan’s opinion ,as it states at the top .
    Personally for me ,you rating Martinez a 9 for playing 6 months (and he was obviously trying to impress )and also Leno playing 6 months but only Rating him a 7 does not make sense to me .
    Martinez came in and the team was on a massive high ,new manager and everyone was playing out of their skin .
    Martinez leaves ,Leno comes back
    In and the whole team is Shit and Leno is made the scapegoat .Again my opinion
    Bellerin – a 5 but Tierney a 7, how many goals have come from the left this season compared to the right ? Again my opinion.
    Overall I would say the best players in the 13 months would be Gabriel (only played 4 months which says a lot )and saka as an attacking threat .

  9. Whatever the subjective element about individual players the team performance is now worse than under emery which is saying something and to be honest can only be laid at the feet of arteta … the fact that he is still in place says even more about a club that has truly lost its way

  10. Even Ancelotti comes to Arsenal or Pochettino for that matter this team will not get better. We are taking the same road Man utd took when Ferguson left. Be patient this team needs an overhaul. Players need to shape up or Ship out. A new manager is not going to solve our problems. We’ve had different managers but the same problems persist. We need to turn our focus on the players now.

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