Arsene Wenger should be able to select Mikel Arteta to start for Arsenal tomorrow against Stoke. The Spaniard is due for a final test today, but should be fine to regain his place tomorrow. His contribution will be vital if Arsenal are to have a good second half of the season, and he may well be the reason why Wenger did not buy a defensive midfielder as many thought he would.
Arteta brings a lot to the team with his reading of the game, his technical ability, vision and experience. He has been spoken about by the younger players as a great role model and a bit of a father figure, and that aspect could be important in helping the newest Gunner, Nacho Monreal, settle into life at Arsenal. The left back already knows Santi Cazorla well from their time at Malaga, so will hopefully settle in as quickly as he did.
Arteta is not a typical defensive midfielder, but his abilities make up for his lack of stature. His Premier league statistics this season are nothing short of awesome. EPLindex have compiled the statistics of the most accurate midfielders in England, and Arteta comes out top in a lot them. Of the midfielders who have made more than 1000 passes so far, the top five are Arteta of course, Joe Allen, Moussa Dembele, and Ki Sung-Yeung and Leon Britton of Swansea.
They looked at various stats such as; total passes, acccuracy, direction of pass, chances created, assists and others, 22 categories in all. Arteta came first in seven of them, including total passes made, pass accuracy, crossing accuracy and clear cut chances created. Arteta is second place in another eight categories, including assists, third in three and fourth in the other four.
It is clear from this that Arteta is fantastic with the ball at his feet, and can control the game for Arsenal, linking the defence and attack brilliantly. He also has the creative ability to open up defences as well, he just needs somebody next to him to cover if he does go forward and help to win the ball back when we haven’t got it.
Against Stoke tomorrow, Arteta and Diaby will probably be the deep lying midfielders. Together they have the ability to run Stoke into the ground, and let Wilshere get forward and use his talent to supplement the forwards. It can be an unstoppable system, and we need it to work for the rest of the season, or Wenger will have some very angry fans wondering why he did not buy a traditional DM in January.