Ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Manchester City on Sunday, we look at how crucial MikelArteta was at the Emirates before he retired from active football.
Currently one of the assistant managers at the Etihad, Arteta was a uniting factor in the Gunners’ camp before he left.
He joined whilst Arsenal were at a low. The club had lost scandalously to United 8-2 and there was the threat of not reaching the top four – Arsene Wenger’s signature Premier League achievement in almost two decades. Wenger tried to keep his best players but ended up losing CescFabregas and Samir Nasri to Barcelona and Man City respectively.
Wenger was forced to do the unusual: he bought six players on deadline day. There was Andre Santos, Thomas Eisfeld, and Park Chu-Young who barely made any impact during their stay at the club. Yossi Bernayoun had his moments but Per Mertesacker and Arteta proved to be a decent gamble for the club.
Arsenal seemed to always have issues with their leaders/captains. The captain was given to Robin van Persie but the Netherlands international was more on the technical side than an all-round leader. Mertesacker and Arteta were the natural leaders in the team.
Mertesacker combined well with Laurent Koscielny at the back, as Thomas Vermaelen had a tendency to move up too far aside his injuries.
Arteta relaxed from his previous attacking role at Everton. He featured in a much deeper role, providing cover from the midfield and protecting the defence from collapse. He combined well with Alex Song too.
Off the pitch, Arteta’s fluency in many languages was key. He spoke England and Spanish fluently. His time in PSG helped his French aside a touch of Italian and Portuguese. He was the middleman that connected with all the language-based cliques in the dressing room.
He helped players who were low on commitment like AndreyArshavin, MarouaneChamakh and Denilson.
Arsenal eventually reached the top four but they were devastated with the loss of Robin van Persie.
SantiCazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud came in and things seemed to calm down. After Vermaelen’s move to Spain, he officially became the captain. Injuries marred his final seasons in an Arsenal shirt before he decided to call it quits. Arsenal need to welcome their hero when he comes visiting even as a City crew.