Mikel Arteta is an experienced campaigner in the Premier League and a master of passing the ball and controlling the flow of the game. When Wenger brought in the Spanish midfielder from Everton, it was regarded as a good buy and a great addition to a midfield already comprising of several ball passing players. But in recent games, the captain of the team has come under severe criticism from all quarters due to his performances.
This was particularly highlighted in the away game against Dortmund; where Arteta, playing as a defensive midfielder, was simply unable to stop the likes of Immobile and Aubemeyang. But Arteta feels that Arsenal can still qualify for the next round of the Champions League and stay on course to have a shot at the trophy. The hostile atmosphere at Dortmund was obviously a contributing factor to the loss, and the Gunners can expect the same when they travel to Anderlecht and especially Galatasaray. But the return fixtures at the Emirates are where Arteta believes the team will shine.
Speaking to the Arsenal website:
It [the home games] has to be [won] and we have to start taking the points. Anderlecht and Galatasaray got a draw but we need to recover from this. We know this is one of the toughest places to come in Europe and we’ve seen Real Madrid get battered here as well. Most of the teams that come here struggle to play against Dortmund, but we had a different game in mind before [Tuesday] night.
We were trying to make them play a different game but I think we encouraged them to play the way they wanted. Right from the start they broke against us five or six times when we gave the ball away and it’s not good enough. When that situation comes they are a really good team and they put us in trouble.
[We needed to improve on] our accuracy when we were taking the ball. When we were trying to play we kept giving the ball away straight away. We allowed them to break, which is their biggest strength. That was a problem.
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Afterwards we defended well for some situations and then it was disappointing to give the ball away with a throw-in for us on the other side of the pitch. It was three against one and they managed to score. If you do that in the Champions League that’s what’s going to happen.
The loss was not entirely his fault; the lack of squad depth in strategic positions is forcing players like Arteta to play out of position. A good holding midfielder would allow Arteta to push forward and really control possession and distribution, but as it is now, he is being forced to play deep himself, just in front of the center backs. Not only is that a position he is not comfortable with, his lack of pace makes it impossible for him to keep up with the faster attackers, and it is a waste of his passing talent.