Monday 14 May 2012

Arsenal need an Arteta-Lite

Some interesting stats have come to my attention this morning on Arseblog courtesy of It's no surprise to see that Arsenal are generally more successful with Mikel Arteta in the team than without him.

As many commentators have noted, the West Brom rollercoaster game was Arsenal's season game in microcosm. It was strewn with errors, like most of our matches. But rather than pick on Theo Walcott, who may well have played with pain killers as I've never heard of a hamstring healing in such a short space of time before, I think we should look at the real reason why Arsenal have fallen so behind the two Manchester clubs.

Two words: central midfield. When we beat Manchester City, it was Arteta who scored. How significant. When we got stuffed at Old Trafford, that was pre-Arteta.

Sometimes, people refer to Arteta as 'Fabregas-Lite'. You can see why comparisons are made. He's Spanish and retains the ball just as well as Cesc. However, Arteta's goal tally is not as impressive as Cesc and he can't provide as many defence-splitting passes. Hence the derogatory word: 'lite'.

Yet what Arteta has over Cesc is maturity. That means a short shelf life, but his positional play is hard to fault. Cesc is pretty good in that respect too, but Arteta seems to gel the team together in a way that reminds me of Claude Makelele. You need an unsung hero like that if you want success.

But it's important for that unsung hero to be fit for duty. Arteta has been out of action for a while and we haven't coped so well without him. So I say we need an Arteta-Lite, to be his replacement should he get crocked again. After all, Arteta has averaged about 29 games a season since 2005, so we need someone to step in.

Right now, that player is not Francis Coquelin. Don't get me wrong, Coq Au Vin is a favourite of mine, but I'm starting to think he's more suited to playing at right back. Anyway, he's a versatile player and may be ready to play central midfield for the first team soon. But based on the last game, I don't think he's ready.

The same goes for Aaron Ramsey when it comes to filling in for Arteta. Rambo's form has suffered so much of late and I think he lacks the discipline to play as deep as Arteta. Rambo is an attacking midfielder and, because of his lapses in concentration, I wouldn't rely on him to defend too much. I'd play him off the striker.

I'm not sure about Emmanuel Frimpong either. He might be the answer one day and we can't fault his battling qualities, but does he have Arteta's poise? Not now anyway. And we need answers now.

So once again, I'm begging Arsenal to spend in the transfer market. We need an Arteta-Lite. Someone like former Arsenal targets Gareth Barry or Scott Parker would have done nicely, but we've missed the boat on both of them.

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