Mikel Arteta joined Arsenal from Everton on August 31, 2011, and since then hasn't looked out of place. With vision, a clever footballing brain, and all the talent a standard Spaniard comes with these days, it was always going to be a nice match with the passing style of the Gunners.
In his Everton days, the now 30-year-old found form, becoming one of the most underrated attacking midfield players in England, after advancing from his initial more defensive role.
0The late signing of Arteta, along with Per Mertesacker wass widely seen as a panic buy by Arsene Wenger, more so by those who see Arsenal as a failing club of late. With influential midfielders like Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri leaving, it was inevitable that the midfield void was a tall order to fill, and although Arteta hasn't set the world alight, he has suitably impressed, and past many cynical fans' expectations.
Then came the signing of Santi Cazorla and the return to fitness of Jack Wilshire, which gave long-term Arsenal boss Wenger a problem, how to fit the reported £10million man into his team. The obvious solution is to drop him into a deeper role where he can sit in front of the defence and thats what's been done.
Cazorla's ability to find a pass with either foot and wriggle through defences before letting fly into the top corner seals his attacking role, while Wilshere's driving runs and smooth passing combined with a sublime first touch means his skills are too valuable to leave on the half way line.
Since this change, Arteta's flaws have become apparent, his lack of physical presence and size are obvious when teams are able to either bulldoze or glide past the little Spaniard. His attitude is second to none, his passing ability when going forward means we can play around the pitch, although Arsenal seem to struggle with their own tiki taka game these days.
Each game I watch, I see Arteta stepping in at vital times, and thank the footballing gods he's there. But I can't help but think, that could be someone else? Someone else who can make a hard tackle, someone who can keep up with the maestro's of the game, as well ask pushing aside the Yaya Toure's of top level football. Yann M'Villa? Mohamed Sissoko? Abou Diaby?
Diaby no doubt impressed in the early parts of the season but I, like many other Arsenal fans, have tired of watching the glass man dazzle us before sitting in the stands for months at a time. Its time we had our enforcer back.
It seems that with more creative players ahead of him in the pecking order, and his inability to compete defensively, Arteta's time is limited, or should be. No doubt Wenger will stick with the man he, and who many others believe in.
There is no doubt that Arteta is a great player, with class and desire, but ultimately, he isn't good enough for Arsenal. However, if he isn't replaced by some exceptional talent soon, he may be our best player as we sit well below the Champions League places while other teams have taken any talent we once had.
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