This season is one of change for Mikel Arteta.
The Spaniard, known for his creative capability in midfield, is now being praised for his defensive abilities and is seen as Arsenal’s new enforcer.
Arteta’s performance on the pitch against the Blues will be a vital ingredient in Arsenal’s success if the Gunners are to come away with a win in this north side derby.
Arteta seems to be thriving in his new, more defensive, role for Arsenal. Arteta has had to repress his natural offensive instincts and play a holding position, rather than his previous responsibility as playmaker.
Wenger has paired the Spanish midfielder with Abou Diaby and Santi Cazorla, and Arteta is already acting as a defensive midfielder in the place of Song. He is expanding the defensive balance of the team’s midfield, ensuring that his teammates have the opportunity to run forward and is successfully winning the ball.
Arteta has no qualms with his positional move and expressed this when he told Arsenal.com, according to Nik Brumsack, “It is a big transition but it is more a mental thing. The boss is convinced that is the best thing for the team and I am too, so let’s do it."
The formation Arsenal will employ tomorrow will be critical to the match’s outcome. Their 4-3-2-1 formation allows for an extra player in midfield when compared to Chelsea’s 4-3-3- arrangement. Chelsea have transformed from a team, who were predominantly defensive, to a team who are now aggressively offensive.
The midfield section invites Arteta, along with Diaby and Cazorla, to govern the play. Arteta will have his hands full, as the likes of Hazard and Oscar like to drop back to the middle of the field.
Arteta’s job as foreman will involve giving Cazorla a chance to push forward while he acts as a gatekeeper for Wenger’s side.
Arteta has been running the show in midfield for Arsenal, so far, and it is evident that Arteta’s style of play is a product of Barcelona’s youth academy. His passing ability is close to flawless, which he proved against Man City at Etihad Stadium.
Arteta completed 100 passes out of 106, a remarkable figure against last year’s Premiership League champions.
Arteta is the metal in the middle of the pitch for the showdown tomorrow against Chelsea.
For both teams, this match is extremely significant.
For Chelsea, it is arguably the biggest matchup they have participated in, so far. At the other end of the pitch, for Arsenal, it is a chance to show that they are contenders for the cup this year and are not on the cusp of greatness but rather that they already are great.