A One Man Team, Arteta-Style



Arsenal are fast becoming a one man team again.

I was inspired by a few things to finish off this blog that I had half-written over the summer, starting with the now famous Ox quote;

A fan asks Ox on OxTV should he get ‘The Ox’ or ‘Chambo’ on the back of his shirt? Chamberlain advises him  “Bit of a predicament, probably should have Arteta.”

That says two things to me. Firstly, Ox has class up to his eye-balls and a grounded view of himself that only a father could instill.

And secondly, for that to be Ox’s knee-jerk reaction, what does it tell us about who our up-and-coming stars of the future look up to? You need leaders in a team. We are blessed to have Arteta in more ways than one.

Another thing that inspired me was this graphic I spotted on www.spiritofmirko.com which is taken from the BBC website for the 2011/12 season – a Word Cloud of all Arsenal-related mentions: Interesting to peruse. I couldn’t help but wonder how the Arteta was so tiny. But read all the terms, it’s quite funny to go through them all. In fact, it’s hilarious.

And finally, somewhere wandering around my subconscious is most likely the impact of @goonerdave66′s blog which brought into sharp focus Arteta’s true contribution: Mikel Arteta to be Arsenal’s Claude Makelele? Or as I like to call it: “Arteta and Makele – Brothahs by Anothah Mothah.”

Anyway, I decided to revisit it with an analysis of last season’s performances looking at AFC’s success when playing with Arteta + 2 full-backs. You know, actual full-backs.

————-

In a small office somewhere at Highbury House are gathered Mikel Arteta, Bacary Sagna, Jenks, Santos and Gibbs.

Bac: So Mikel, why are we hear?

Mikel: You will soon understand.

Bac: I don’t feel very comfortable about this. Why were we not allowed to tell anyone about this? What if the others find out they weren’t invited?

Mikel: Bac, I understand you are very nervous about your career right now. You are worried about taking care of your family. But, do not worry about that.

Bac: What do you mean?

Mikel: Never worry about your family. We will all take care of them if ever it was necessary. Your children have loving grand parents, and your wife is beautiful. I will make sure she is taken care of. I will take care of her as if she were my own wife. She will want for nothing. Nothing.

Bac: Mikel, please stop talking, you strange little Spanish man.

Just then there is a knock on the office door. In walks Arsene.

Arsene: Hello, Hallo, hola, salut, Namaste, Gutten Tag,  مرحبا , ….

Bac: OK, Arsene. We get it. You speak a lot of languages.

Arsene: Sorry. désolé, Verzeih’ mir, perdoname…

Mikel: Thank you for joining us today. Boss.

Arsene; So what is this all about, Mikel?

Mikel: “Well, it is very simple, Boss. I was on Twitter the other day, working my secret account: @arsenalgent. You should check it out some day. I use it to mock and make my team-mates look silly. For some reason the English love it and think it is funny.

Anyway, I saw a lot of comments on my TL pointing out that Arsenal really didn’t win without me in the team last year. It was, if you like, a “one man team.” But not because of that Dutch Quisling. Then I dug a little deeper and saw that most of our troubles occurred when we were missing 2 full-backs. And I’m not talking about those visitors: Djourou, Vermaelen and Koscielny. I mean “real” full-backs. That is why I invited our full-backs today.”

I have some data to share with you. As you can see, any team we field that has Mikel Arteta ie ME in it plus any 2 full-backs with a pulse, and I do mean any 2, is a team that would have won the Prem last year.

Arsene: Go on.

Mikel: So what I am suggesting, Arsene..

Arsene: Go on…

Mikel: is that you dump Dutchie, Mr Hollywood pass, and have a serious look at Mr Run and Fall Over, and decide if you wouldn’t prefer to cash in on their sorry arses. Now don’t get me wrong, Play them, or play someone else, it doesn’t seem to matter from the numbers.

Arsene: You have my attention. We need to load up on full-backs, sign another 4 of the buggars. They don’t have to be great. Any full-backs with a pulse apparently works.

Bac: Easy on there, mate.

Mikel: Don’t worry, Bac. I will take care of your wife.

Bac: I don’t even know what you’re talking about.

Mikel: Now of course we will need some cover for me, in case I get a little niggle. I like this Frankie Coghlan fellow. He is a good lad.

Arsene: You mean Francis Coquelin

Mikel: Yes, him. You know, I am not even convinced he is even Irish. His eyes were dead when I spoke to him of my love for Daniel O’Donnell and Father Ted. He seemed unmoved.

Arsene: He is French.

Mikel: Ah yes, that would explain it then. Anyway, I will teach him what to do. There is not much to it. I pass it to my left or I pass it to my right. Sometimes, I pass it backwards a little. When my opponent is lulled into this pattern, I knock one up field to an advanced player, just because I can. Besides that, I keep an eye on Mr. Hollywould and Mr. Belgium when they take off. The only other thing I need to do is stand where my opponents are going to want to pass. Oh, and when I get the ball I move it on quickly, keeping it simple.

Arsene: Interesting, could you talk slower while I make notes. Also, I am bringing in Steve Bould to drill the defense. What do you think?

Mikel: Bring him in or don’t bring him in. it does not matter. But you might think of dropping the high line. It exposes your center backs whenever I am not playing.

Arsene: So, sell Dutchie and Hollywood and maybe even Runny Trippy, and drop the high-line. OK. Anything else?

Mikel: I like Poldi and Giroud. I think they will be not shit. Have you talked to Santi Cathorla recently. He is not getting paid. And he has soft feet. The softest. All that softness requires lotion. Lots of lotion. An ocean of lotion. And bathing in asses milk. He is a bit of a Cleopatra, but he is worth it. And he needs to be paid. I think you should call him again. I think you can get him for the price of a Poldi or so.

Arsene: Very interesting. Do we need anyone else in this transfer window.

Arteta: Well, every bit helps, Boss, but…no. That will be enough. Perhaps you could buy 2 or 3 more full-backs just to be safe.

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So…if you were to take the results for all EPL and ECL games where Mikel Arteta + 2 full-backs playd last season, and scale the results:

1. We would have won the league (OK. That’s a little fanciful, but…)

2. We would not have had a “Goals Conceded” problem

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RESULTS FROM 2011/12 FIXTURES OF GAMES WITH ARTETA + 2 FULL-BACKS

Date Opponent Comp Result A F GD Appearance Fullbacks Pts
11/04 2012 A- Wolves Prem W 0-3 0 3 3 Started Sagna/Santos 3
08/04 2012 H- Man City Prem W 1-0 0 1 1 Started Sagna/Gibbs/Santos 3
31/03 2012 A- QPR Prem L 2-1 2 1 -1 Off 80 min Sagna/Gibbs 0
24/03 2012 H- Aston Villa Prem W 3-0 0 3 3 Started Sagna/Gibbs 3
21/03 2012 A- Everton Prem W 0-1 0 1 1 Started Sagna/Gibbs 3
12/03 2012 H-Newcastle Prem W 2-1 1 2 1 Started Sagna/Gibbs 3
03/03 2012 A- Liverpool Prem W 1-2 1 2 1 Off 52 min Sagna/Gibbs 3
26/02 2012 H-Tottenham Prem W 5-2 2 5 3 Started Sagna/Gibbs 3
15/02 2012 A- Milan UCL L 4-0 4 0 -4 Started Sagna/Gibbs 0
05/11 2011 H- West Brom Prem W 3-0 0 3 3 Started Jenks/Santos 3
01/11 2011 H- Marseille UCL D 0-0 0 0 0 Started Jenks/Santos 1
19/10 2011 A- Marseille UCL W 0-1 0 1 1 Started Jenks/Santos 3
16/10 2011 H-Sunderland Prem W 2-1 1 2 1 Started Jenks/Gibbs/Santos 3
28/09 2011 H-Olympiakos UCL W 2-1 1 2 1 Started Jenks/Gibbs 3
24/09 2011 H- Bolton Prem W 3-0 0 3 3 Off 81 min Sagna/Gibbs 3
13/09 2011 A-Dortmund UCL D 1-1 1 1 0 Started Sagna/Gibbs 1
10/09 2011 H- Swansea Prem W 1-0 0 1 1 Started Sagna/Gibbs 3
Games A F GD Pts
17 13 31 18 41 41
38 29 69 40 92 92

.

PROJECTED EPL STANDINGS AFTER 38 GAMES

2011-2012 BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE
 

OVERALL

 

POS

 

TEAM

P

F

A

GD

Pts

1

FC Arteta

38

69

29

40

92

2

Manchester City

38

93

29

64

89

3

Manchester United

38

89

33

56

89

4

Arsenal

38

74

49

25

70

5

Tottenham Hotspur

38

66

41

25

69

6

Newcastle United

38

56

51

5

65

7

Chelsea

38

65

46

19

64

8

Everton

38

50

40

10

56

9

Liverpool

38

47

40

7

52

10

Fulham

38

48

51

-3

52

11

West Bromwich Albion

38

45

52

-7

47

12

Swansea City

38

44

51

-7

47

13

Norwich City

38

52

66

-14

47

14

Sunderland

38

45

46

-1

45

15

Stoke City

38

36

53

-17

45

16

Wigan Athletic

38

42

62

-20

43

17

Aston Villa

38

37

53

-16

38

18

Queens Park Rangers

38

43

66

-23

37

19

Bolton Wanderers

38

46

77

-31

36

20

Blackburn Rovers

38

48

78

-30

31

21

Wolverhampton Wanderers

38

40

82

-42

25

So, in all seriousness, and with all due respect to Steve Bould and also to the fact that we have only played 3 games so far this year, against 2 teams who didn’t attack (much) and 1 that didn’t have a true striker, we should also wonder what the simple impact of having 2 fit full-backs and a fit Mikel Arteta with a much less severe high line, not to mention 2 or 3 CBs who have actually played together regularly would have had on our defensive record this year.

Let’s revisit this when we’ve seen more of the season.

Now, of course this analysis is way too simplistic, and does not PROVE we would have won anything. But, especially when we make broad assumptions about our defense last year, I believe it needs to be chopped into 2 discussions – with and without Arteta. And of course, the most important part of the discussion is, what do we do when Arteta is not on the field.

Fortunately @goonerdave66 has already had a stab at that with: Francis Coquelin – Old enough and good enough or as I like to call it: “Yet Anothah Brothah By Yet Anothah Mothah”