It has been slightly more than two months since Arsenal appointed Mikel Arteta as the club's new manager. The Spaniard took over Freddie Ljungberg who was the interim manager after Unai Emery was sacked in late November. Out of 11 games in all competitions, Arteta and his side have won five of them and drew another five.
The 37-year-old's impact at North London has been pretty phenomenal. Although the Gunners are still not in the top six of the Premier League table standings, the club's defensive record is improving and they have now kept three consecutive clean sheets. With Chelsea and Tottenham not performing up to standard, Arsenal are in the midst of launching a comeback in the second half of the season.
On that note, let's take a look at three players who are excelling under the new manager.
#3 Shkodran Mustafi
When was the last time Shkodran Mustafi had let his team-mates down? It was probably a month ago when he indirectly caused David Luiz to be sent off while playing against Chelsea. Since that game, the centre-back has stepped up his game and his hard work is reaping rewards.
Following the victory over Olympiacos, the Gunners have kept three consecutive clean sheets in all competitions and Mustafi played in all of them. Apart from his occasional inaccurate passing, the German international is genuinely more confident in himself and his team-mates around him are also placing more trust in him. During Arsenal's victory over the Magpies, Mustafi had a passing accuracy of 90% and won seven aerial duels. Additionally, he completed three tackles and one interception in the match against Olympiacos.
Arteta definitely played a huge role in shaping this outcast into an integral member of the starting eleven. Just weeks ago, fans were calling for Mustafi to leave the club but the manager has given him a lifeline to revive his downward career at North London.
#2 Bukayo Saka
Bukayo Saka showed sparks of his capability when Arsenal were under Unai Emery but he reportedly struggled to understand instructions from his former manager.
Now, playing as a left-back has helped the youngster blossom in the Premier League. The 18-year-old is constantly performing to the best of his abilities and it is hard to name Sead Kolasinac in his stead. The Bosnia and Herzegovina international has fully recovered from his injury but finds himself on the bench instead of the starting eleven. When Kieran Tierney returns from his shoulder injury, Kolasinac might find himself further down the pecking order.
Besides his defensive contributions, the Arsenal academy graduate is also proving himself on the big stage with three goals and eight assists in all competitions this season. At just 18 years of age, he has a bright future ahead of him and the Gunners are eager to tie him down to a long term contract. If he commits his future, Arteta might be the right man to develop this youngster into one of the best EPL stars.
#1 Mesut Ozil
Right from the first day when Emery took over Arsene Wenger's position, Mesut Ozil failed to see eye to eye with the former Sevilla manager. Under Wenger, Ozil was almost undroppable from the starting line-up regardless of his form. However, it was an opposite story when the 48-year-old was in charge.
The German midfielder was frequently left out of the squad with Emery citing reasons such as Ozil not being fit enough to play against tougher opponents in the Premier League. Now that his former team-mate, Arteta, has taken over the reins, Ozil's role on the pitch is increasingly significant each passing week.
Last weekend, the 31-year-old netted his first goal in over 10 months, thereby repaying the faith Arteta has had in him over the last couple of weeks. For a player of his age, Ozil should be at the peak of his career and with the new system that Arteta is trying to construct, the midfielder is now playing at a more advanced position which he prefers. Hopefully, such a move will revive Ozil's career and make him one of the best again.