Word of warning: I do not have to have the tactical knowledge of a primary school coach, let alone Wenger to fully appreciate or realize all the things Arteta does in the team. I just watch us play and will try to write on the limited things I see.
They don’t get it, do they?
Arteta is Arsenal’s deepest lying midfielder. Arteta is not a temporary solution or a patch up job. In fact, a temporary solution would be the player who plays in that position when Arteta is injured/rotated.
Looking back at our season now, I now notice that our midfield was in particular rarely overrun. Sure, there was the phase when the whole team played with fear and we were dominated. However, I am struggling to think of instances where the midfield two in front of the defense was the weak link.
You notice good attacking play by the buzzing of purposeful activity – the movement, triangles and passes. I am starting to think that the opposite is true for good defense. I think that a good defense is one that quietly and efficiently nullifies threats and brings last ditch defending to a minimum. An over worked defense making clearances, last ditch tackles and the goalkeeper making save after save is the one you notice.
Arteta was a vital piece of our usually quiet and efficient defense last season. If I think of Song in that position two seasons ago, I can picture the numerous times our defense was attacked after the opposition overran our midfield. Usually Arteta would be the one in our box, desperately defending. Now, Song was a good player, certainly much better than the then flavour of the month Scott Parker. Arteta is however much better in the role. That is why I think Song was sold without a fight.
I believe that even if you find yourself in something as physical as a street fight, you improve your chances if you are alert, think on your feet, are aware of your surroundings and look for effective ways to incapacitate your opponent. That is what Arteta is to the team. He is a thinking fighter. He is not the guy rushing at you predictably with his arm raised. He is not the midfield tank that fells the opposing player. He is the guy who cuts off available channels for the opponent. He is the guy who steals the ball. The guy who turns attack into defense. As an attacker, he can pick a pass, hit a sweet free-kick and is the first person you would ask to take the penalty.
I think it was Poznaninmypants who said that Arteta is an extension of Wenger on the field. There is even a video on his blog showing them animatedly discussing football (It is possible the discussion is about Gervinho’s hair). They are at it for quite a while. I agree with Poznan and I think it is a big plus for Arsenal that we have a leader on the pitch who is on the same wavelength as our manager.
Wishing one of the best deep lying midfielders all the best for the new season and hoping he gets called up to play for Spain sometime in the coming year.
by Sensational Arsenal