Arsenal vice captain Mikel Arteta picked up a torn quadricep that will keep him out of the line up for 4-6 weeks. This will be a huge loss for the Gunners as Arteta is one of the most important players in their team. He will miss their start to the season and their two important Champions League qualifiers against Turkish side Fenerbahce. One stat that really says a lot about what Arteta means to Arsenal: in Arteta’s first two seasons with Arsenal, they won 63.4% of the games he started as opposed to only 20% of the games he did not start.
Passing and Possession
Arteta plays as both Arsenal’s deep lying playmaker and defensive midfielder and, as a result, much of the play starts with him. Arteta attempted a whopping 2750 passes, the second most in the Premier League behind only Michael Carrick, and completed 92% of those passes. Arteta took a touch every 0.93 minutes which was the second most often, among players with at least 75 touches, in the Premier League only behind team mate Aaron Ramsey. Arteta won possession back 233 times for Arsenal, sixth most in the Premier League, winning it back every 12.8 minutes while losing possession every 9.1 minutes and whilst being dispossessed 23 times. This reflects his importance as the player who both starts and breaks up opposing teams play.
As the teams main defensive midfielder, Arteta has to thwart enemy attacks and help turn them into counter attacks, where Arsenal thrive. Arteta made 108 tackles last season, eighth most in the league, won 69% of his attempted tackles and made a tackle every 28 minutes. Arteta won 57% of his 310 attempted ground duels winning along with 52% of his 67 attempted aeriel duels. Arteta was able to make 101 interceptions which was an interception every 29.5 minutes. Even though he touched the ball so many times and is not a natural defensive midfielder, Arteta only made two defensive errors all year with only one of them leading to a goal.
Some of the things most important things Arsenal will miss without Arteta are things that won’t show up in the stats. Although Arteta is the vice captain, if everyone was healthy he would actually captain most of the games with current captain Thomas Vermaelen not in the normal first 11. Without Arteta, Arsenal lose their calming presence in the midfield and lose a lot of their shape offensively and their organisation defensively. Barring Arsenal actually signing someone, Jack Wilshere will be filling in for Arteta next to Aaron Ramsey. While the partnership of Ramsey and Wilshere could be very fruitful in the future, when they have played together as double pivots so far, they just haven’t really clicked. Both Wilshere and Ramsey like to go forward and with them both together Arsenal tend to lose their shape and the midfield can become disjointed. It really shows in defence and sometimes they will be caught on the counter because both are too far forward and when other teams keep possession, as stated above, Arsenal tend to become unorganised and leave gaps in their defence. Arteta also brings years of Premier League experience and he seems more willing to just sit back take the ball and slow the game down giving Arsenal more control of the game.
Arteta’s injury could really hurt Arsenal in their start to the season and may threaten their chances at making the Champions League. With his injury, and all of the other injuries Arsenal are dealing with, Wenger could finally be forced into splashing some of that huge war chest he supposedly has. With some huge games coming up for the Gunners, they will need to fill the big gap left by their vice captain Mikel Arteta.