Arsenal Player of the Month: August – featuring CWD compilation
Throughout the season I’ll be writing Arsenal Player of the Month articles in collaboration with the well-known CWDComps, who will be producing a video of the player’s exploits during the month.
Despite two underwhelming 0-0 draws against Sunderland and Stoke, home and away respectively, when Mr CWD and I sat down to discuss the candidates (figuratively) there were a few that came to mind. Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson and Santi Cazorla were mentioned, but eventually we settled on our other Spanish midfielder.
So congratulations to Mikel Arteta! The first winner of the not-yet-prestigious CoA Player of the Month, in association with CWD. We knew from his time at Everton that he was very technically gifted, but we mostly saw that in the final third, with several fantastic goals and excellent assists. Last season he was more disciplined, playing the steady role in midfield, always offering an option and spraying passes around with supreme precision. His passing was incredibly accurate, and his completion percentage was usually 90% or higher.
However, this season he’s reigned his game even more, and in the first two games has been the main holding player, with Abou Diaby breaking forwards from the pivot. He constantly looked to make interceptions and start off attacks by playing the ball into the more advanced players – he and Cazorla linked up well throughout both games, exchanging 15 passes against Stoke and 29 against Sunderland, the highest in each game.
Arteta mostly did the dirty work in midfield, mopping up where it was needed and wrestling the ball from advancing midfielders. He demonstrated his tactical awareness many times by appearing in exactly the right place in midfield time and again, and while it wasn’t anything spectacular, someone has to do it, and Arteta did it splendidly well.
As our new vice-captain he’s expected to lead the team alongside Vermaelen, and he seemed to help organise the players well against Stoke in particular. The organisation was better than ever before, and the team was very compact and solid, thanks in part to Arteta holding his position in front of the defence. He also covered well for full backs Jenkinson and Gibbs when needed, and that’s been a key thing of Arteta’s short Arsenal career – using his experience to shore up the team and help out in any way that he can.
His determination and drive were apparent throughout both games, and his dogged dedication was shown several times as he nipped in to win the ball, with 4 interceptions against Sunderland and 3 against Stoke. While he’s not physically imposing, he uses his body cleverly, throwing himself into challenges and using his guile to his advantage, and these were all things we saw against Sunderland and Stoke.
All in all, despite no goals, it was a good month for Mikel Arteta, with the two clean sheets reflecting his stellar work in front of the defence. He said he wants to score more goals, but I think with that sort of defensive contribution, people won’t be too bothered if he doesn’t score that many.