They may have developed a worrying habit of drawing games in recent weeks but no matter how this season ends it will be considered a vintage one for Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal

With just a handful of matches to play, the Gunners remain level-pegging with Manchester City in the Premier League betting odds for the title and nobody could have predicted that less than a year ago when a late implosion cost them a top four place.

In that regard – and indeed, in every regard - it is a quantum leap in improvement. From pretenders to contenders in the blink of an eye.

Furthermore, it is a campaign that has seen them boss proceedings almost from the off, reaching the summit two weeks into 2022/23 and relinquishing top spot only the once, for four mere days. 

Displaying a highly admirable aversion to pressure and circumstance, no side has put together more wins (23, as of late April) and they are the only team still to lose from a winning position within a fixture. 

Even when behind, they have shown an iron-clad mentality that previously seemed alien to them, picking up 16 points from 27. And somewhat inevitably, these outstanding achievements are allied with some equally outstanding stats. 

No side has taken on more shots (520), which makes it all the more impressive that they boast the best chance conversion rate (12.7%).

Moreover, unlike several of their peers, it is a prolificacy not overly reliant on individuals. No side has had a greater number of different goal-scorers.  

Only Manchester City and Liverpool have strung together more passes and this demonstrates the simple truth that Arteta and his men have not compromised their purist principles in order to improve, while at the back they have been consistently solid, keeping clean sheets in 37.5% of their league outings.

As is nearly always the case therefore, when discussing a successful creation, the manner in which they have attained such excellence is nearly as impressive as the excellence itself.

There has been plenty of style married to substance. They have been ruthless for the most part but also a thrilling, multifarious spectacle.

Additionally, these details above offer up clues as to how Arsenal have gone about elevating themselves so dramatically, transforming from a side that unquestionably had brittle elements to it last term, coached by a man who on a couple of occasions during his tenure found himself short-priced in the football betting to be the next manager sacked. 

Pertinently, it has been an advancement founded on an almost devout adherence to the three Ps – positioning, possession and pressing, the latter a nuanced and selective stratagem so as to maintain structure and avoid being countered. 

It’s a finely-honed and much-practised blueprint that has clearly worked for the Gunners this term, resulting in them having the most high-turnovers ending in shots while at the other end rarely, if at all, have they found themselves stretched and out-numbered.

This, above all other facets, explains the level of control Arsenal have maintained all year, a dominance of game-narrative that affords their creatives a greater freedom to express themselves, to make a difference.

Mikel Arteta’s men press aggressively but never over-commit, which brings us to positioning and each player’s intuitive understanding of where they need to be in any given passage of play.

It's a balancing act that is exceedingly tricky to pull off. Arsenal have done it better than anyone in 2022/23 and that includes Manchester City, a pioneer of the approach. 

Speaking of balance, Arteta’s decision to push Granit Xhaka further forward has reaped huge dividends this season with the Swiss midfielder enjoying a career zenith ahead of Thomas Partey who has consistently been exceptional in the holding role.

With an unshackled Martin Odegaard in the running to win this season’s Player of the Year merit it is difficult to think of a better midfield three and as always with Arteta, its success comes down to that commodity he prizes above all else. They are oh so perfectly balanced. 

At the back meanwhile, the forging of a formidable partnership between Gabriel and William Saliba has been a fundamental reason behind Arsenal’s rise, and for all of their defensive attributes what stands out is that both players are in the top five across the league for progressive carries. Without a doubt, the Gunners’ means of attack starts with them.

And typically ends with yet another Martinelli or Saka strike, but as much as this duo’s impact should be lauded, it is perhaps the introduction of Gabriel Jesus that has made a valuable difference to Arteta’s creation, the Brazilian’s progressive passing ensuring possession has a real purpose to it now and doesn’t lead to nothing. 

The old charge that Arsenal sometimes pass for passing’s sake simply no longer applies to this present eleven. 

Lastly, there is the intriguing inspiration the manager has sought from basketball, in particular the sport’s use of compactness and positional discipline.

According to Odegaard, appropriating these methods from the court to the Emirates pitch has been a significant factor in Arsenal’s major upgrade this season, helping most when in transition.

However it has been achieved – and wherever Arteta has mined his influences – the transformation of Arsenal and has nothing short of remarkable this season. And increasingly it seems they have no intention of fading away anytime soon.


Stephen Tudor is a freelance football writer and sports enthusiast who only knows slightly less about the beautiful game than you do.

A contributor to FourFourTwo and Forbes, he is a Manchester City fan who was taken to Maine Road as a child because his grandad predicted they would one day be good.