Mikel Arteta endured an extremely unlucky 2014/15 campaign. Injuries plagued the midfielder’s season, and a handful of poor performances lost him the support of the Arsenal faithful.
Arteta’s worst performance last season was, arguably, in Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat away to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. The Spaniard struggled to cope with the high pressing of Dortmund’s players, and he lacked support from his teammates when defending Arsenal’s back four.
It was around this time that Arsenal fans started to turn on their club’s captain. The man who was once regarded as a key player for The Gunners transformed into an unwanted liability. Common criticisms of the 33-year-old are that his legs are going, and that he doesn’t have the defensive capabilities to play as a holding midfielder for a top side.
These criticisms are, partly, true. Arteta is certainly not as quick as he once was, but his role doesn’t require that. He isn’t the kind of defensive midfielder that is going to charge into challenges and sprint back to stop counter attacks; his job is much more subtle. Intelligent positioning is all the ex-Everton star should need to defend. Possession retention and good use of the ball is all he needs when on the attack. He is a deep-lying playmaker, not a ball winner.
Personally, I think that Arteta still has a lot to offer. He has a great reputation as our club captain – even when he was injured, the players spoke about his commitment and passion in the dressing room, with his motivational speeches helping the team get through tough times – and he is a fantastic ambassador for the club.
Mikel is the leader Arsenal have so badly needed for years. On the pitch, he can dictate the play and help his teammates focus. Off the pitch, he can inspire greatness in the dressing room. Even if you don’t believe that he should be Arsenal’s first choice defensive midfielder, it can’t hurt to have him in the squad; using his experience to steady the team and educate young players.
For me, Mikel Arteta should definitely be kept on for at least one more season. In games where we are expected to dominate, he can help to boss possession and keep our midfield ticking. In the big games, he can sit on the sidelines and motivate in the dressing room. Outside of football, he can be an exquisite ambassador for the club.
Mikel Arteta deserves one last chance to go for Premier League glory, and his inclusion in Arsenal’s squad could be a vital aspect of their title challenge. Unless Arsene Wenger was to sign an unbelievable defensive midfielder to replace him, the Spaniard has got to stay in red in white for one more season.
Do you think Arsenal should extend Arteta’s contract? Can he help us off the pitch as well as on it? Let me know in the comments below.