Mikel Arteta- A Top Class Panic Buy

Taken from the Arsenal Column

After a beginning to the season which can only be described as a disaster, Arsenal attempted to repair some of the damage through the signing of Premier League veteran Mikel Arteta for a relatively low fee of £10 million. 

With a gap of talent that hadn’t been filled from the departure of Samir Nasri and club captain Cesc Fabregas, and the club’s worst start to the season, experienced manager Arsene Wenger was lamented by the press, opposing fans and even a section of the Emirates faithful. 

Arsenal sold a player whom was a World Cup winner, and replaced him with someone who hadn’t even made a single national team squad. The team lacked any identity after the departure of their talismanic skipper, and the rushed signing of new squad players like André Santos and Yossi Benayoun meant that squad harmony had to try to be instilled whilst also attempting to save the seasons fortunes on the pitch.

Mikel Arteta seemed to thrive upon his move to the Emirates. His composure and poise in the centre of midfield gave The Gunners a platform on which to begin resurrecting their league campaign. Arteta also proved an invaluable foil for Alex Song’s creative passing.  

Despite the criticism upon his signing, Mikel Arteta slowly started to win over his critics and was almost seen as a lynchpin to the ever-improving Arsenal side. During his absences against Queens Park Rangers, Stoke City, Chelsea, West Brom and Norwich , Arsenal didn’t look the same side and failed to win all but one of the aforementioned games, with the only win coming due to a spectacularly fortunate goalkeeping display from Martin Fulop at the Hawthorns.

The result against West Brom saw Arsenal finish third in the Barclays Premier League, which was unthinkable when the slick-haired Spanaird joined the club. His un-movable hair almost represents Arteta as a player. Tirelessly consistent, immensely tidy, and full of quality with a resilience among any absurdities. All hair-related analogies behind, Mikel Arteta has enhanced his reputation tremendously with a string of consistent performances.

Perhaps the thirty year old’s defining moment in his debut season for The Gunners came against eventual Champions Manchester City, when a perfectly executed right-footed strike left Joe Hart helpless in the last few minutes to secure a vital win.

Taken from Flickr

A key facet of Arteta’s play is to keep the play ticking over and providing important ball retention, which is something that has been much talked about and appreciated recently due to England’s poor passing and possession during Euro 2012. 

A pass completion of over 90% just goes to show his great skill at controlling the game. Another thing that is often overlooked is Mikel’s ability to offer great defensive stability to a side. He is strong in the tackle for a ‘playmaker’, and alongside Alex Song, a sound understanding was struck and it provided a platform for creativity which sparked Arsenal’s great form to 3rd place.

Where does he go from here? With Jack Wilshere reported to be back for the beginning of next season, and a rumoured arrival in the form of Yann M’Vila, it’s important Arsenal do not forget the reliability and graft that Mikel Arteta gave in order for The Gunners to retain their Champions League status. 

Mikel Arteta was vital in Arsenal’s strong league position, so it’s essential they do not shunt him out of the first team immediately.  Sure, he’s the wrong side of thirty, but his experience and level-headedness could prove to be very important in the dressing room.

Not bad for a ‘panic-buy’.

**Arsenal have seen fit to open talks with Arteta over a new contract in the last few days, according to many media outlets**

Written by Frankie Hobbs
Follow me on Twitter @FrankieH_
Check out his excellent blog, Modern Libero

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