The ‘trust the process’ motto of Mikel Arteta has become somewhat of a joke amongst Premier League neutrals, but Arsenal’s 2021 shows why they should.
After a victory over West Ham on Wednesday night, the Gunners moved up into fourth place in the league table and now hold the advantage in the race for that coveted final Champions League spot.
The displays at the Emirates Stadium recently have shown significant progress compared to the start of the year when Arteta was attempting to implement a system that wasn’t fit for purpose with the players he had.
Of course, the £150million spent over the summer goes a long way to justifying the way that Arsenal appear to have turned a corner, but those already at the club have also stepped up to the mark.
Last season, Arsenal finished 8th. They had the look of a team with a splashing of individual talents amongst a pool of subpar performers, and those displays aren’t to be forgotten in the Gunners’ end of the year grades.
Of course, young prospects Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka are top of the class.
The pair have been nothing short of exceptional since Arteta handed them extended spells in the first team, providing energy and flair in the final third and both being capable of picking a game up by the scruff of the next and winning it for the team.
Likewise, summer signings Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu have impressed since joining ahead of the new campaign.
HAVE YOUR SAY! Who has been Arsenal's best player in 2021? Comment below.
Despite a shaky opening few games, the trio have all slotted into the side and added strength to the defence, as well as allowing Arsenal to play out from defence and fuel attacks from deep as Arteta has wanted for since his appointment.
On the contrary, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the worst performer in the class.
His recent, and ever so public, stripping of captaincy may have been the final nail in the coffin for the Gabonese forward at the Emirates.
Although he provides experience and is top quality at his very best, he has been far too inconsistent in 2021 and if his attitude off the pitch is equally as disappointing then he can’t score any higher than those at the club who are giving all they have for the club – no matter how poorly they are performing.
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Those who just about pass include Martin Odegaard, Rob Holding and Gabriel Martinelli, who have all played well on occasions but for whatever reason have been unable to break into Arteta’s first-team regularly over the course of the year.
Nicolas Pepe, Bernd Leno and Cedric Soares are all graded a D based on their performances last season which led to Arteta being forced to dip into the transfer market in order to improve upon the aforementioned, and it would be no shock if all three of the trio are sold in January.
Here are the grades for the entire squad
Bernd Leno – D
Kieran Tierney – B
Ben White – B
Thomas Partey – C
Gabriel – C
Bukayo Saka -A
Martin Odegaard – C
Alexandre Lacazette – B
Emile Smith-Rowe – A
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – E
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – D
Rob Holding – C
Cedric Soares – D
Takehiro Tomiyasu – B
Nicolas Pepe – D
Nuno Tavares – C
Calum Chambers – C
Pablo Mari – C
Albert Sambi Lokonga – B
Mohamed Elneny – C
Folarin Balogun – N/A
Eddie Nketiah – C
Sead Kolasinac – D
Aaron Ramsdale – A
Granit Xhaka – C
Gabriel Martinelli – C
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