Mikel Arteta arrived at the Emirates Stadium on transfer deadline day of the 2011/12 season - a move necessitated by the sale of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. 

He was expected to provide the creative spark in the midfield that had become dependent upon the often-injured Tomas Rosicky and the misfiring Andrey Arshavin. He was already an accomplished midfielder for Everton, the heart and soul of the over-achieving Toffees. 

He arrived at the backdrop of a deflating 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford in an atmosphere of dejection and humiliation, charged with turning things around. 

Towards the end of the season, his winner against eventual champions Manchester City epitomised his contribution to the side in a season dominated by the goals of Robin van Persie and another late season surge to the top four.

Come the 2012/13 season, another skipper and cornerstone of the side had jumped ship as Van Persie left for Manchester United. Not only that but Arteta's constant companion in the heart of midfield the previous season Alex Song had also left for greener pastures taking with him the physical presence and the eleven assists of the previous season - the highest for the team.  

A change of role beckoned for the man from Basque country and also with the skipper Thomas Vermaelen not in the best of forms the additional role of captaincy. 

He has played the role of the pivot - staying back, protecting the back line and linking up with Abou Diaby or Aaron Ramsey to break up the opposition’s play in his own half, while assisting Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere or Rosicky in their attacking roles. 

The sight of Arteta harrying for possession, or playing the passes with team mates around him has been one of the few to gladden the hearts of the Gunners this season. 

The task assigned to him by Arsene Wenger is to allow the liberation of the other Arsenal midfield players by covering the gaps that appear with intelligent movement and passing. He also adds a pinpoint passing ability and is the main penalty taker for the Gunners this season.

This season he has a tackle success of 69%, marginally less than Michael Carrick, the player in the PFA Team of the Year and has made 10 more interceptions than the Manchester United midfielder. His performance has not been flawless, though - his low point of the season came in the 3-3 draw at the Emirates against Fulham where he conceded possession just outside his own penalty area and then gifted them a penalty, which allowed the visitors to go 3-2 ahead after leading by two goals and then surprisingly missing an injury time penalty to win the match. 

Those two points dropped could come to haunt the Gunners at the end of the season if they do not win the last match of the season. 

Despite that poor game, Arteta has remained a source of consistency for the Gunners and he deserves to be name their player of the season.


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Mikel Arteta
Football
Arsenal