Arteta: No Arsenal player yet reached his peak

Mikel Arteta has said Arsenal “do not have a single player who has reached his peak” and is waiting to implement fresh ideas on the group regardless of whether they win the Premier League title.

The Gunners are a point behind leaders Manchester City having played a game more ahead this weekend’s fixtures, when Pep Guardiola’s side travel to Everton on Sunday before Arsenal host Brighton at Emirates Stadium.

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Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard finished second and third respectively behind City’s Erling Haaland in the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year vote after fine individual campaigns while William Saliba, Granit Xhaka and Gabriel Martinelli are just three players widely acknowledged to have improved beyond all recognition this term.

However, Arteta told ESPN in a March interview that Arsenal were only in phase three of his five-phase plan to rebuild the club and when asked how close the team is now to where he wants them, the Spaniard said: “We are still very far. We can be much, much, much better at a lot of things still. Huge margins.

“We can be much better in our build-up, attacking man-to-man situations, attacking open spaces, defending deep, set pieces, we have huge margins to do in terms of game management, a lot of things we can do still much better.

“We can be more ruthless to kill games. It’s a lot of things that we have to seek for improvement because we don’t have a single player who has reached his peak. Not one.

“And when that happens we as coaches have to be curious to understand: what can we do to get them better? And then generate those connections that I think we’ve done pretty well and keep developing them so they empower each other and they can take the game to a different level still.

“There are certain players as well that have to go to a different level in terms of their leadership, in terms of what they are able to transmit to the group and the responsibility and the accountability they have to take for what happens here every single day, and the demands and standards we want at the club. There is a lot to do.”

Pushed on whether there were things he was yet to try with the squad because he doesn’t feel they are ready, Arteta replied: “Yes. At the end they are the protagonists. We have to try to give them the tools that they know how to manipulate. If not we are going to put them in certain positions that they are not going to be comfortable with.

“There are moments to put the players in those moments and now is not the moment to do that, in my opinion.”

Arteta revealed last weekend that he used a clip from the recent “Amazon: All or Nothing” documentary detailing the club’s 2021-22 campaign to motivate his players.

Having previously suggested he never watched the final cut, Arteta showed his squad footage of their 2-0 defeat at St James’ Park last season, inspiring a victory by the same score this time.

“What changed? A feeling that I had,” he said. “I didn’t want to watch it but I put myself… I think I needed to watch it. I put just a part of it, I think it was a minute and 46 seconds, and I watched that part. In the summer I’m going to watch [all of it].”

Questioned why he had waited so long when the documentary was released in August, Arteta said: “Because I asked certain people that are really relevant in my life to watch it carefully and give me an assessment of what they think.

“I prefer their assessment much more than mine because I don’t like watching myself on TV, in a press conference. I don’t like listening to my voice, I don’t like that. So probably my judgement is going to be not the best for myself.”

Arsenal also lost to Brighton at home last season and asked whether he would use another clip this weekend, Arteta added: “If that’s the formula to win, if I have to watch it 50 times believe me I will do it!”


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