Born in Glasgow, McArthur joined Hamilton Academical as a youth in 2003. He made his debut in January 2005 against Ross County. He established himself in the Hamilton team the following season and scored his first goal in April 2006 against St. Johnstone.
Such was his progress that he was given the captaincy for his previous club Hamilton against Aberdeen in February 2008 for a Scottish Cup tie and nominated for the First Division Player of the Year for the 2007–08 season. In May 2008 after helping his side to the Scottish Premier League, McArthur was awarded with a new three-year contract.
In the 2009–10 campaign, English clubs including West Bromwich Albion, Sheffield United and Sunderland FC showed an interest in McArthur. On the 5th April 2010, McArthur went on a three day visit to Premier League club Wigan Athletic with a view to a permanent move in the summer.
On the 23rd July 2010, Wigan Athletic confirmed the signing of McArthur on a four year deal for a undisclosed fee, believed to be around £500,000, with potential add-ons for appearance landmarks. The move reunited him with former Hamilton team-mate James McCarthy, who was transferred to Wigan at the beginning of the 2009–10 season.
He was called up to the Scotlands under-21 squad in February 2008. He made his debut against Ukraine that month and his competitive debut against Lithuania in a UEFA Qualifier in August 2008. On 16th November 2010 McArthur made his senior international debut as a second half substitute for Charlie Adam.
Now he answers five questions on his youth career for YFS...
1. Which clubs did you play for in your youth career?
I played for Rangers South BC, St Johnstone pro youth, Rangers SABC, Clyde and Hamilton Accies.
2. Who were the best players you played with and against during your youth career?
I played with Graham Dorrans and Robert Snodgrass at Rangers South and when I was a kid Charlie Grant at Celtic was really good.
3. Who were your role models as a young player?
Gazza and the main one, Barrry Ferguson.
4. Who was your favourite coach at youth level?
Gerry Mcgregor at Clyde really looked after me and was a great coach.
5. If you had one piece of advice to today’s generation of youth football players, what would it be?
Stay away from all the distractions like drink drugs, partying, etc and make sure you practice as much as you can while enjoying it.