Can Arteta replace Cesc?

The eternal question of the second half of the summer was… if Cesc leaves, who would replace him?

By the final day of the transfer window, when we hadn’t replaced him, it was Ramsey who we all thought would play ahead of a duo of Song & Wilshere, with Rosicky, Frimpong and perhaps Miyachi filling in when injuries and suspensions took their toll… the first three sounded good, but the depth of an ageing Rosicky and two teenagers didn’t quite fit the requirements we all wanted for our title challenge…

But then… all of a sudden, we opened the chequebook and before we knew it, Everton’s star player, Mikel Arteta arrived at the Emirates…

Not only Arteta,  but also Benayoun, on loan…

Whether or not both players joined because of the loss of Jack Wilshere to injury and potential losses to the African Cup of Nations in January are debatable, but starting this weekend, Mikel Arteta will kick off his career as an Arsenal player.

The question on everyone’s lips is whether he can replace Cesc or Nasri… the Spaniard spoke to and answered that question…

No, I don’t want to use the word replacement. They were two top players for the Club, they did really, really well in the last few years and now we have some new players coming in to try and make the same impact. I am sure we will. I don’t want the fans to be expecting the same as them because every player is different. We need some time to adapt as well, but I am sure that we will give everything we can to make this team better.

I do like the way he talks, he’s been in the press saying how we have a chance to win the title despite our bad start, and that’s what I want to hear… One of the questions I’ve been thinking about is where he best position is – when he was signed, I thought he’d slot into the hole – where Cesc used to play, just behind the striker and in between the two wingers – but having looked at where he has played, the hole isn’t where his natural position for Everton was – he played primarily on the left of midfield.

He was asked about his position and replied:

The manager asked me to play in every position [at Everton] and the good thing is to get different things from every position. I played a lot on the left, I played a lot in attacking midfield and I played in front of the back four as well. It depends what the manager wants here from me – I have not had a chance to speak to him about that yet.

Personally, I think he will play in the central part of midfield – and I think he’ll be teamed with Ramsey and either Frimpong or Song (pending suspensions), with him having a license to roam forward, but despite his attacking nature, he will have a balanced role, being part of the defensive area of the game too. I came across the “Executioner’s Bong” blog – an Everton blogger who has his positives and negatives about the player.

The main positive comment was his contribution to the Everton cause since his arrival…

There is no doubting how pivotal Arteta has been to the Blues cause since arriving from Sociedad – we have averaged 61 points per season with him in the team and 51 points without him – notably down to his creativity – since 2005 he has on average created 2.7 chances per game ranking him 5th in the top flight in terms of creation.

Creativity is exactly what we need, and Arteta’s historically brought that to teams – but the player did have quite an injury 3 seasons ago and despite playing on the left of midfield, his previous role for Everton did allow him to get involved in the attacking third. An alarming statistic is that Arteta has mustered just 6 assists in the last two seasons.

Arteta’s importance to the club has been reduced in last 3 seasons since his cruciate injury, leading him to only be available for half the games in this period. Pre-injury the team was built around him but since Baines has become the pivotal player in terms of strategy and creative spark; in the last 2 seasons Baines has mustered 20 assists with Arteta just 6 – way short of his vintage of 13 assists back in 2006/7.

If Arteta does play in the hub of a front four or five in an Arsenal team, we can and should expect more from him. Many believe that his poor form for the last two seasons was due to the role he played – sometimes in front of the back four, mostly from the left of midfield – yet often involved in the secondary pass and counter attack… At the moment, it’s all speculation, we have no idea where he will play and we have no idea how he will adapt…

Come on Mikel, show us what you’re made of…

One thing is for certain (well, barring injury), the new recruit will kick off his Arsenal career on Saturday and then, as they say, the rest will be history…

  • kiki

    I’m excited about Arteta. He’s not Fabregas, but I think he’ll mold well into the team, especially with the creativity. Injury looks to be a problem, but who knows. He’s seems realistic, but also confident in what he can bring to this club. All Arsenal can do is keep the faith and determination to win everything in my opinion.

  • Steve

    Cesc had his fair share of injuries last year …….

  • Kodjo

    I still cant figure out what role he will be assigned….either in front of the back four in the Wilshere role or in the hole (Cesc role). Problem as Dev mentioned… Ramsey is not up to scratch with respect to playing the killer final pass. Ramsey hangs on the ball for too long. This approach in itself made arsenal too predictable.

    2 problems that i noticed in our play which is down to injuries/suspensions. The lack of quick transition from defence and the 1 – 2’s btn Song & Wilshere that penetrates opposing teams midfield.

    So what are Wengers options…

    Play Arteta deep in the Wilshere role in combination with Frimpong or Song whoever is available. Play Arshavin as a roaming midfielder or play Benayoun in that role.

    Or play a straight 4-4-2 with Walcott and Van persie upfront, 2 holding midfielders with Gervinho & Ox, left and right of midfield. Problem is that we are short of pure defensive midfielders so that is a big area of weakness until the suspensions are over. We might see Cocquelin again in the holding role.

    On the otherhand if JD & Kos are fit. I’d play Kos & Cocquelin as the holding midfielders with Ramsey, Arteta, Benayoun, Ox, Arshavin as supporting midfielders. Partner JD & Mertesacker in defence.

    There are just too many new faces in the team to expect any fluidity. We might just scrape with a win… bcos of the aformentioned reason. As such, fans need to be patient and supportive. The big win/scoreline expected…for me is not realistic.

  • pires

    Andy Townsend summed 1t up perfectly today on the rad1o. Wenger has to look around the premiership for proven players that know as soon as they come into the Arsenal team they know exactly what is required, they know Stoke away is tough, they know Barton is a wind up merchant, they know about Kevin Davies etc etc and I personally would get 15m Cahill and 20-25m Jack Rodwell. I think must fans would agree with Cahill and i hope most fans can see the potiential 1n Rodwell. Rodwell in my opinion is going to be world class I can really see a Gerrard out this boy and yeh he will probably cost more like 25m but if he has half a good season this year watch the big boys step up the1r interest, he has the lot skill, speed, strength, big, tall and also English!! What do my fellow gooners th1nk??

  • rankie10

    I think any possible protest has been somewhat diluted because people are just so relieved and amazed that we actually signed some experienced players.

    I also believe there is no coincidence between the signings and the injuries to TV5 and Wilshere and that is very worrying in that, if it is true, it demonstrates that Wenger has learned NOTHING from the last 5 years of repeated mistakes and failures

  • Berth

    Rodwell i dont rate the guy

  • yemi

    Rodwell is a player for the future. He could become great or remain average.
    Cahill Good option

  • afc4life

    @ pires:

    I really don’t think much of Rodwell – United were offered him for £15m in summer apparently and turned it down…

    @ Kodjo:

    Don’t think the Ox will feature much – our formation will also not change 433 is played all the way through the club now…