Arteta: The Final Analysis

Yesterday witnessed the dramatic exit of a cult figure at Goodison who has been a key cog in our development as a club over the past 7 years. This article will take a look at his career at the Blues and investigate what the fallout will be – will he be missed? – will it affect how we setup in terms of style and strategy this season? Read on…..

Nobody Better

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. The stats below show this:

Arteta with and without (above table produced Jan 2011)

Arteta’s passing is consistently quality and rarely dips below 80% completion– he has the ability to dictate games and the combined loss of him and Pienaar will hit us in terms of ability to retain possession.  Set plays and crosses aside, MA is our most creative player possessing great vision and technique – a skill set which (with the potential exception of Barkley) doesn’t reside elsewhere in the squad despite the ability Osman possesses.

Arteta 3 Year Stats (produced Jan 2011)

Our playing style became more direct from January onwards last season, coinciding with Pienaar’s departure; however this was met with an upturn in results and goals  per game, improving from  1.05 to 1.66 per game . With both gone and no like-for-like players coming in, our game will change to a more direct, pressing game I fancy, using the pace and youth of the likes of Coleman, Rodwell, Fellaini & Drenthe.

Reduced Impact

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.

Last season MA struggled playing further back as more of a deep lying playmaker where he often had to sit and cover the left for the Baines/Pienaar forward axis. Indeed, last season we won just 31% of the games Arteta played in, compared to 44% of the games he didn’t figure in. I’m not saying we are a better team with Arteta not in it – quite the opposite – but clearly we can pick up points with him absent as we have had to do with great regularity in the last 3 seasons with his injuries.

Whilst he improved later on in the campaign (notably Newcastle away) on the flanks and was still one of the first names on the team sheet, he simply wasn’t the force he once was. Moyes at times seemed unsure on where to deploy him for the best, playing him on the left, right, anchor and in a no.10 role.



Mikel Arteta has been one of the best players I have seen play at Goodson. He has great passing technique, delivery, vision and composure. In his earlier years he also possessed a tidy turn of pace and the ability to beat players on the flanks.

My view is that unlike with the Rooney transfer, we have got great value from Arteta and we certainly witnessed his best playing days. My sadness at his exit is more about sentimentality of what has gone before than what could happen in the future.

The timing of the transfer has left us no time to buy a replacement and short term we will have to re-adjust tactically. However, as mentioned above, MA is no longer the man the team is built around and, close to his 30’s,  £10m represents decent value. I’m sure he will give Arsenal good service and fit in with their style of play.

Thanks for the memories Mikel!

 Click here to view previous articles about Mikel Arteta

Click here to view articles about new faces Royston Drenthe and Denis Stracqualursi


9 thoughts on “Arteta: The Final Analysis

  1. An excellent article which really summed up the departure of M.A.

    It is a pity that some of the points raised in the article could not have been covered by the pundits on SKY but maybe this is asking too much.

  2. Excellent, and I think most blues recognise this without seeing the stats, he hasn’t been the same. Judging by the lack of anger and acceptance, most feel its a good deal, not the disaster the media are making it out to be. Good price for a good servant to the club and a good guy – wish him all the best and I am sure he will be touched by the blues and be an Evertonian for life – we will see him waving from the pitch at half time if 5 years.

  3. Lovely fella, nearly world class in first couple of seasons.Virtually unrecognisable after his knee injury and became a sideways 10 yard passing shadow of his former self. Don’t think Arsenal have been watching closely as I don’t think he has the pace or tackling desire any more that will be required for their high octane style of play. Lost count of the number of times I have said to my dad in last two seasons ” You wouldn’t even know he was on the pitch, why are they playing him instead of Jack (now becoming a sideways shadow of the wonderkid I saw at Birkdale school) or Ossie” Nuff said, hope i’m wrong and he reblossoms at the new school of science. Now don’t get me started on getting rid of Beckford, just ridiculous in the circumstances, so sorry for that kid, what must he think of us?

  4. Nice post. I always thought he went missing in the big games but the stats speak for themselves. Agree he’ll be a regular visitor to Goodison. The chance to be the lynchpin at Arsenal would be too much for most to resist.

  5. He was an exceptional right midfielder but very pedestrian in the middle. We were poor last year when he played centrally, loads of posession but no cutting edge which he used to give us further forward

    I’m sure almost all fans will wish him the very best and he has done the right thing by the club. He didn’t run his contract down like Piennar and then have to be sold for next to nothing, he gave us everything for 7 years, he has been under par for the last 2 years and £10 million for a 29 year old is really good business.

  6. Brilliant! Love how you plastic Everton fans suddenly don’t think he offers much anymore! Looking forward to him scoring on his debut!

  7. Great post and analysis! To be fair, we Gooners are not expecting a lot from MA. There is no like-for-like replacement for Cesc and we’ve already replaced Nasri with Gervinho. We just need Mikel to shore up the midfield and provide an experienced head while Wilshere and Ramsey continue their development. 100% commitment to the cause will also help. I do hope he gets back to his best, though. Maybe a change of scenery will do him good. Good luck for the season!

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