It was touch and go on deadline day as to whether Arsenal would complete the signing of Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta. Thankfully the deal was done because the idea of this Arsenal side operating without the cultured Spaniard is more than a bit scary.
Naturally there was a period of adapation but Arteta’s quality and experience have been crucial in hauling the Gunners back into something approaching decent form. And Arsene Wenger considers himself lucky to have Arteta on board.
“He is an important player for our team,” said the boss. “He is really a player between Song and Ramsey or Rosicky and that gives us continuity. When we need to keep the ball he can achieve that – Jack can do that as well. But with Jack missing he is a player who can keep the ball when it is needed.”
His quality isn’t just appreciated by the manager either. Rookie Carl Jenkison was keen to sing his praises after the West Brom game, saying:
“He’s got that experience and he’s got that class about him as well like he will always keep the ball. Like when you think he’s in a tricky situation, he’s got great feet and he’ll always get out of that situation.
“And he’s a model professional as well, he’s someone I look up to, like he’s been around the game for a long time so I can learn a lot from him and he’s done really, really well today.”
As many Arsenal players go away on international duty, Arteta will stay behind to play Cluedo and Risk with Manuel Almunia. Wenger believes Arteta has been unlucky to be around at a time when Spain have so many quality midfielders.
“He had the bad luck to play for Wales who never went to a big tournament. Arteta was born in Spain where they have plenty of midfielders who are absolutely outstanding. What maybe didn’t help him is that he was very young and he did not move to clubs who were maybe as glamorous as they should have been.
“It shows what I always say – 90 per cent of a player’s career is the club. It’s the club who makes the career of the players. If he was English he would have an international career here.”
Or, he’d have been left on the bench while average Dans like Gareth Barry got picked all the time. Not that Arsenal fans will mind, as the fulcrum of the midfield gets to recharge his batteries for a couple of weeks.