Mikel Arteta was at the heart of Arsenal's march to the top four last season with his leadership and measured performances as the metronome of the side. This season he was expected to continue to the lead the side in Thomas Vermalean's absence from the staring line up.
He was also expected to mentor the development of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere as they strived to fulfill their potential for club and country.
However an early season injury to the quadriceps has meant the Spaniard has ruled him out.
In his absence Ramsey has produced one outstanding performance after another, after a disappointing outing in the first game of the season, while Wilshere has been influential without being outstanding and it has seemed his best is just round the corner.
Ex-Gunner Mathieu Flamini re signed for the club and over the last couple of games has produced energetic performances.
Arteta made his comeback against Stoke City today.
This may mean him slotting right into the center of midfield with Flamini making way in future.
Ramsey on current form should be preferred to Wilshere to partner Arteta, which would be a step back for the Englishman hoping to excel in next year's World Cup.
But on the positive side a break from first team duties for a while may be the best thing for his fragile ankle.
However with Santi Cazorla also out injured Wilshere may feature in the left of midfield where he plied his wares in his formative years.
Mikel Arteta will bring leadership, discipline and durability to a young squad looking to achieve what has been beyond them for the last eight seasons - a trophy and a shot at the title which looks up for grabs this early in the season.
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