Miki and Me.
Good afternoon, Montpellier later, but first a few words from another girl what loves them Gunners. You’ll probably know her from Twitter or from the Emirates or from the Tollington – Zana! She’s my favourite and funniest of all the Tweeters (and full-sized humans) and she loves Mikel Arteta. Here’s why.
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“The defeat at Old Trafford” are words all Arsenal fans have become used to by now and I feel a bit uneasy typing those out myself. We all know about the start we had, why that happened and what we did to address it. Well, transfer deadline day was unusual for us; let’s just say very un-Arsenal like. We ended up being linked to hundreds of players as per usual, but Arteta was one who actually became a reality (even that wasn’t done in quick fashion but still, done it was.)
I’m in danger of going on about things that don’t really matter now so I’ll go ahead and express my overly positive thoughts on Mikel Arteta. We can go on about his hair and his perfectly shaped eyebrows but in the end, the consistent quality of his performances is what really stands out to us fans. Some labeled him “injury prone” and not the “ambitious” signing we needed to push on when it was made official but I have to say, there were also some who were bursting with excitement: yes, Jack Wilshere. I’m sure you all remember his tweet (now I’m going on one again.)
In his first season here, he teamed up with Song and Ramsey in midfield, who was then replaced with Rosicky after his impressive performances in the latter part of the season. Not only was he by far the most consistent midfielder, he could have held the tag of being the most consistent performer of any player at AFC. Yes, there was a dude who happened to score a lot of goals but we’ll forget about him, and an absolute beast of a Frenchman in defence. I argued many times with those who called Song “better” and asked them to justify that, but in my view, there is something that clearly puts him above Song: his intelligence on and OFF the ball. I’m not talking about trying an over the top ball hundreds of times per game and only pulling it off once when I say “on the ball” by the way. Oh, and I’m not talking about trying to be all clever and ending up passing to the opposition which then leads to them scoring near the end of the game. The Norwich game, the one where we all left the Emirates feeling as though all that hard work had been undone and it was over.
This season has seen him take up the defensive midfielder role in which he has been faultless and I really do mean that. We all watch him enough to know how vital his defensive contribution is but let’s throw in a few stats: he averages 4.8 tackles per game and also three interceptions per game. After every performance, we’re bombarded with his passing statistics (94.5 passes per game and all that jazz) but it’s much more than that. You will rarely see Arteta make the wrong pass at the wrong time and as you’ll have heard most of the Arsenal world say, he keeps us ticking. With another little Spaniard in there, whom we’ve all already fallen for, we have something to be very excited about. Throw in a Wilshere or possibly even a consistent Diaby, and we will rarely lose a midfield battle. I’m rarely worried when I see Arteta in the starting line up – we’re all aware of what happened when he didn’t play last season. He is a vital part of our game or probably our most vital player so let’s not think about him possibly stubbing his toe and missing a few games. You and I could go on about him all day but let’s just watch and appreciate his professionalism, intelligence and commitment. One of the best at what he does, yes I’ve said it.
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Follow Zana on Twitter at @r_zana.