Arsenal midfielder and vice-captain Mikel Arteta has revealed that he has enjoyed his new role as a holding-midfielder and believes it was important for the team that he sat back more often.
The Spaniard midfielder is best known for his attacking-ways and his ability to score goals from midfield, but this season, he has been the defensive-minded midfielder in the heart of Arsenal's midfield.
With the likes of Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere being used as the attacking-midfielders, it has been down to Arteta to sit back and be the holding-man in the three-man midfield, something he has not done before.
The sale of Alex Song and the injury to Abou Diaby left Arsenal without a known strong-man in the centre, so it was down to the experienced Spaniard to sit-back and fill the role.
The 31-year-old has still kept his attacking-minded passing and shooting, but he has added tackling to his game and the player himself feels he did a good job this season in a role he has not been used too.
“I feel very happy because I think I have found a level of consistency throughout the whole year,” Arteta told Arsenal Player. “I missed two-and-a-half weeks with a little calf problem, after that I think I have played every game.
“I was the man to play in a different role, I had to adapt and I did the best that I could. I have sacrificed myself a lot for the team and worked as hard as I could and tried to help my team-mates.
“In my mind, I think ‘How can I make the players around me better? How can I make them feel more comfortable?’ I am talking about Santi, Aaron, Jack, Tomas Rosicky - players like that.
“That was the hardest part probably, but I knew I could succeed in doing it. I watched a lot of players in my position and I am happy with the way I have done it.
“I watched Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso and Michael Carrick, who is a good example. Before I used watch the likes of Iniesta and Xavi and in my mind I always think about them, but now I haw to stop that side.
“People may not understand why I don't go forward more but this is my job, it wouldn't be good for the team.”
When Arteta played in Spain back in his early days, he used to be the holding-man, and he believes that is the reason he was able to adapt so quickly.
“I know the concepts and I have the tactical knowledge to know what I have to do it,” he said. “I have had to change, but it is a mental thing really.
“I enjoy playing in that position a lot, I do - all the tackling and covering people and making the players around me better. I really enjoyed it this season.”
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