Since Mikel Arteta joined Arsenal from Everton in 2011, the Spaniard was nearly ever-present in the starting XI for the next three years and was considered to be the midfield general and leader of the side. In the summer of 2014 Mikel was made the club captain, but after playing just twelve games he was cruelly injured and ended up having an ankle operation last Christmas-
He has now finally returned to full fitness but instead of returning to his leaders position he has found his place taken by Francis Coquelin but is still desperate to be involved as much as possible. “I really missed it [when I was out],” he said on Arsenal.com. “I had a really tough period last year after my last game in November and I went through some really difficult moments with my surgery.
“For me it is the frustration [that is the hardest thing] because there is always pain and you are trying to get back everyday and you spend a lot of time doing rehabilitation.
“When the players go outside for a training session, you feel wasted. They come back, they travel, they have different times to you and you don’t spend much time with them. Personally I don’t feel productive.
“I’m here because I want to play games, make this team more successful and be a part of it. When I’m not able to do that I still have to contribute, be positive, be good around the other players, give advice and try to help my team-mates. But it is not the same.
“But I worked really hard and tried to stay positive, do my best and here I am again now, earning my place in the squad and ready to help the team.”
Wenger has been easing Arteta by giving him three appearances as a substitute, but the 33 year-old has been using his time on the bench to study the game, and heis very likely to go into management when he finally retires.
“I just watch the game and things come to my head naturally – things that I believe we can do better or things we are having trouble with, weaknesses of the other team or if we are having a few problems,” he continued.
“You are excited but nervous as you don’t know when you are going to get thrown in. When you get thrown in you want to be ready for it with a good warm-up and ready to make an impact to help the team achieve the win.”
Despite his injury problems, Wenger gave his captain an extra year on his contract in the summer, so Le Prof obviously thinks that Arteta can have a good influence on the team even if he is unlikely to play while Coquelin is fit. He certainly has a wealth of experience and knowledge to pass on to our youngsters and can still have a big influence on the team…