Arsenal in 2023: Best Player, Best XI, Best Goal & More

Arsenal started the calendar year as genuine contenders for the Premier League title, but they failed to cross the final hurdle with Manchester City leapfrogging them in the final weeks.

Despite this, it has been a progressive spell for the north London club. They finished runners-up in the top-flight last term and are currently second in the standings behind Liverpool.

With 2023 ending in a few weeks’ time, here is our yearly review for the Gunners where we discuss several aspects and predict what the Gunners could do better heading into the New Year.

Best Player – Bukayo Saka

Arsenal have had goal contributions from almost everywhere on the pitch this year but Bukayo Saka has been by far the standout performer.

He had an impressive 26 goal contributions in the 2022/23 season, and he has got much better this term with 20 goal involvements already.

Saka needs to keep up his good run of form for the rest of the campaign if the Gunners want to end the campaign on a high with silverware.

Best Goal – Reiss Nelson vs Bournemouth

Arsenal have made it a trend of scoring late stoppage time goals over the past 18 months and the fans have had several joyous moments.

We have already seen two dramatic late winners from Declan Rice this season – the latter of those came in the dying seconds at Luton Town.

Eddie Nketiah did the same against Manchester United last term while Gabriel Martinelli and Kai Havertz have also contributed to wins with goals after the 85th minute.

However, Nelson makes the top of our list after his stellar strike from the edge of the box in the 97th minute to seal a 3-2 comeback win versus Bournemouth.

Best game – Arsenal vs Bournemouth

Arsenal had their backs against the wall last season versus the Cherries. The club were trailing 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium and a shock defeat was on the cards.

However, they had a tremendous fightback with goals from Thomas Partey and Ben White to pull them level before Nelson’s heroics in the closing seconds.

With virtually the final kick of the game, Nelson unleashed a power strike beyond the grasp of Neto which saw the Gunners reclaim top spot in the league table.

Best XI – Few surprise picks

Aaron Ramsdale was surprisingly dropped for David Raya in mid-September and it seemed a good decision at the time with the Spaniard keeping clean sheets.

However, he has faltered over the past few weeks and the jury is out on him. Ramsdale has also been error-prone but he gets our nod due to his better consistency.

Takehiro Tomiyasu gets ahead of Ben White at right-back as he provides the right balance in attack and defence. William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes are assured starters in central defence with Oleksandr Zinchenko at left-back.

Declan Rice, Martin Odegaard and Kai Havertz are the best midfield combination at the moment. Havertz has found form and confidence since the November international break with three goals.

Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus and Leandro Trossard get the nod in attack. Gabriel Martinelli has been lively on the left flank, but he has not necessarily made goal contributions on his own and has yet to recapture last season’s form.

Best XI: Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Rice, Odegaard, Havertz; Saka, Jesus, Trossard.

Best transfer signing – Leandro Trossard

Trossard has undoubtedly been the Gunners’ best signing of the year. Mykhailo Mudryk was the Gunners’ main attacking target last winter but Chelsea’s decision to hijack the deal proved a blessing in disguise.

The Gunners quickly turned their attention to Trossard, who had fallen out with Brighton & Hove Albion manager Roberto Di Zerbi. The £21 million spent seems an absolute bargain in today’s market.

The 29-year-old has registered seven goals and 12 assists from 40 games. His statistics are more impressive from the fact that he has averaged only 47 minutes per appearance for Arsenal.

Manager grade – A

Mikel Arteta could not get Arsenal over the line in the title race last season. The Gunners went off the boil in the final weeks with high-scoring draws and unexpected defeats on the road.

An injury to William Saliba visibly weakened the Gunners’ defence. Arsenal brought in Jakub Kiwior last winter but Arteta’s over-reliance on Rob Holding proved costly in the title pursuit.

Despite this, it was a very good campaign after a fifth-placed finish in the previous year. The Gunners are back competing for another title and Arteta deserves credit for the progress.

Team grade – A

Arsenal played some of their attacking football last season and it had an effect towards the end of the campaign with fatigue creeping up among some of their forwards.

There has been a better balance between attack and defence this season They have not been playing entirely well in the league but have got the results which matter the most.

However, the players have flourished in Europe, but they can’t be judged on that as Arsenal were handed an easier group. For the consistency shown, we give them an A grade.

Arsenal in 2024 – Prediction: Win a Trophy

The Gunners have not won a major trophy since the 2020 FA Cup triumph over Chelsea. They came close to ending a two-decade wait for the title last term but faltered at the end.

The London giants are right in the title race once more, but they face a stiffer challenge with Liverpool, Man City and Aston Villa also looking contenders for the crown.

The hierarchy must back Arteta with a marquee striker signing in January. They have scored plenty of goals but still lack a genuine number nine who can stay fit and score regularly.

Arsenal’s best chance of winning silverware could be in the FA Cup. It won’t be easy, having been pitted against Liverpool in the third round of the competition at home.

The Champions League looks beyond the Gunners’ stretch, but anything could happen if they manage to end their round of 16 curse. Arsenal last made the quarter-final in 2010.

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