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Arteta the Euro middleman

By Ritchie Bann :  10/10/2007 :  Comments (12) :
After watching us struggle over two legs of our recent Uefa Cup tie against Metalist Kharkiv, it came to me that in the second half of the game in Ukraine that we seemed to get some semblance of control on matters. And I thought that was because Mikel Arteta was switched inside and was playing a more holding role in the middle of the park, dictating matters. Granted it wasn?t one of his best nights in an Everton shirt, but I thought he got his foot on the ball and made things happen.

I don?t believe this change in tactics will work so much in the Premier League as I think David Moyes tactics are spot on regarding Arteta?s position where he plays his more skilful midfield players out on the wing (ie. Arteta, Pienaar and Osman) and his workhorses in the middle (ie. Neville, Carsley and Jaglielka). Obviously we do need more class in the midfield ? ideally Thomas Gravesen?s ball retention skills and passing combined with the athleticism and awareness of someone like Owen Hargreaves as well as one of the workhorses alongside (or add Cahill?s ability to score a goal every 3 games) ? as that is where we have struggled in the Premier League in the past few weeks. But I think domestically it would be a bad move putting Arteta into the middle as we would lose so much creativity from the flanks. And he is our star man and the team seems set up to play to Arteta?s strengths on the wing in the Premier League.

A lot of skilful central midfielders with big reputations have failed to pose their dominance on the Premier League from the middle of the park (ie. Veron, Emre to think of a couple off the top of my head) and maybe the hustle and bustle of the middle of the park is too hard for some to get to terms with.

Maybe in Europe teams give other sides a bit more time to play in the middle and maybe it is from there that Arteta needs to be put on European nights so that he has more of a chance of pulling the strings for us. Maybe being out on the wing is counter-productive in Europe for him as the ball may go out less to him ? hence his quiet performance in Ukraine.

Although paradoxically if you recall it was the European game against Dinamo Bucharest two seasons ago at Goodison ? when we were trying to overturn a 5-1 deficit ? that Arteta played on the wing for the first time and to such good effect whipping in numerous Beckham-type crosses. I think that game alone persuaded Moyes to stick with the little Spaniard on the wings, and to such good effect, for the next two seasons.

So maybe its time again for Moyes to watch some re-runs of the 2nd leg of a Uefa Cup tie and make a change for the better for Everton in Europe?

Reader Comments

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Martin Wallace
1   Posted 10/10/2007 at 18:29:17

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Richie, you’ve got a great point.

Hopefully the squad will be less depleted by the time we’re into the group stages and we wont need to call upon it.

I do worry though that DM didn’t have enough understanding of his options that he didn’t try Arteta in there sooner.
John Crawley
2   Posted 10/10/2007 at 18:45:35

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Good point Richie I agree with you about Arteta in a central role in Europe, however I disagree with you about the Premiership. Arteta is a much better player now than when he arrived and I think he wouldn’t have any difficulty in a physical sense playing in the middle of the park. He is our most naturally talented player and I basically think we should be building our midfield around him. The problem is David Moyes failure to sign any natural wide midfield players for the last 2 seasons, which means that Arteta has to play wide.
Steve Mink
3   Posted 10/10/2007 at 19:08:16

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Good point, but I’d put him central in the Premiership too. It’s the only way we’ll ever start playing through the midfield if he starts to link it up.
Mike Allison
4   Posted 10/10/2007 at 20:34:59

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I don’t accept that our squad is depleted, we haven’t got the right midfielders at the club in the first place. The midfield is the most important part of the pitch, yet we seem to want to play without one.

I’ve been advocating that Arteta play in the middle the whole time, and its particularly obvious that that should be the case in Europe, as Jagielka (centre back), Neville (right back) and Carsley can’t even pass the ball from there. I was embarrassed by our two performances against Metalist, they were as bad as anything I’ve seen in a long time.

As for the premier league, I accept the case for having Arteta out wide, what Ritchie says makes sense, but it just highlights our continued failure to sign the right player to play in the middle and protect him. There are big, strong players out there who are capable of playing football, and we’ve needed one for around two years now without any sign of trying to get one.

We’ve also needed a left winger since Kilbane left (in truth, since way before that) and we’ve never, ever signed one, or even been linked with any. Until we can offer creativity down both wings and through the middle we’re going to keep getting poor, ugly football.

The money spent on Yakubu was unnecessary, we now have too many strikers while being painfully short in two of the midfield positions.
Jimmy Crack
5   Posted 10/10/2007 at 21:10:12

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Mike, what about van der Meyde?

He can play on the left wing, despite being right footed, and he’s not bad either. Plus he’s got Euro experience from Ajax and Inter. I’ll love to see Moyes send him out from the start at some point during the group stages.
Jimmy Crack
6   Posted 10/10/2007 at 21:17:48

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I agree about the Yakubu money though...complete waste of space on the field, not to mention Vaughan and Anichebe are farther down the pecking order now, and they need playing time to develop. Would have been better spent on a true winger or a creative center mid.
Paul Mackay
7   Posted 10/10/2007 at 21:46:18

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I am not convinced by this less space in the middle thing. It depends on the player. I think the issue is that you can play creative players in the middle of the park but they need to be of a greater quality than a lot of the tosh we have played in the middle of our midfiled.

An example would be Paul Scholes, an attacking, creative midfilder who supports the front 2 from the centre of midfield. He can’t tackle for toffee, but you play a combatitivie midfilder behing him- Roy Keane for many years.

So I know Arteta has never done well when we have played him in the centre, but I think the reason is we haven’t got enough qaulity in there to support him.

We can’t continue to play defenders in midfield on the basis that they are "good tacklers". They need to have vision and be able to hold up pocession of the ball. I don’t think we have a single player at the club who fits this bill.
Connor Rohrer
8   Posted 10/10/2007 at 22:18:13

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Paul, you make some good points but I just dont think Arteta is as effective in the middle as he is outwide. There is a big difference between Scholes and Arteta. Two entirely different players in my opinion.

Scholes passing for me is the best in the premiership just edging out Fabregas. They way he drops deep and spreads the ball 60 yards is a joy to watch and he has real game intelligence........meaning he can pick a through ball from anywhere. Arteta on the other hand for me is more of a one-two pass and move player. He doesn’t specialise in through balls as I have commented in the past in fact he hardly ever puts Johnson one on one with the keeper. I not saying that is his fault as its just his style of play. Pienaar’s goal against Boro summed up for me what both Arteta and Pienaar are about. Everytime they got near each other they made something happen with lovely little passing moves. I would call it the Ajax style of play or even the modern day Arsenal. Thats what type of football there academies teach.

One fault I would make of Arteta game is how easy he is marked out of games. If he is doubled up on then he stays outwide and doesn’t come looking for the ball. That for me is the difference between Scholes and Arteta. If Man utd arn’t ticking Scholes makes it his priority to take the ball of the defenders instead of just waiting for the ball to come to him. Thats why I wanted Fernandes so much. He in the Scholes fasion would take the ball of the centre halfs and make a team tick. The Spurs game proved this where Moyes was booed. People where getting nervous at how calm and relaxed Fernandes looked while very deep in his own half but what he was doing was taking the pressure off the back four. When we wherent playing he went looking for the ball and tried to makes things happen and that is something Mikel just doesn’t do. This for me is the difference between class and world class. I would say Arteta was a class player but to step up another gear he has to stop going missing and start looking for the ball when te team are playing poorly.

Arteta also has the gift of excellent dribbling skills, touch and quick feet. Despite his speed being average he manages to glide past and wrongfoot defenders no problem. That is something we lack as a team. Yes Van der meyde offers us that but I doubt very much he will have a huge role this season. Osman and Pienaar can do it on occassions but they are more attacking central link players than anything. Arteta needs to be played outwide as he can eliminate defeders.

If anyone is going to play in the middle it is Tommy Gravesen. He for me is a poor mans Paul Scholes. He cant tackle but he can read a game, dictate play and pick a killer pass. Arteta would defo sure us up but I dont think he is the long terms solution centrally.
Karl Masters
9   Posted 10/10/2007 at 23:27:10

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Maybe it was just me, but I thought that Mikel Arteta looked way off the pace in that second Metallist game - like he was carrying a knock maybe. He was regularly outpaced by their players. Either that or he has some problem with Moyes and wasn?t giving his all which is doubtful.

Give Pienaar a bit of time. He?s gradually getting better and better. Arteta himself made a slow start to his Everton career only flourishing in the last few games of that 04/05 season. Going back a long time, Trevor Steven took most of his first eason to settle at Everton, ironically losing his place to Alan Irvine who played right midfield in the League Cup Final at Wembley!

Van der Meyde: Who knows what to make of him? If he was up to it he?d have had his chance recently with all the injuries. I keep reading people saying give him a go as if he?s some sort of cross between Aaron Lennon and Ronaldo who is going to tear opposition defences apart. Big question though is whether he is fit enough to even last a match.

Finally, I?m really looking forward to he eturns of Cahill and Vaughan. Quite what formation we will play is anybody?s guess, but I think our season will take off when those two are available and come the season?s end we may be wondering why we spent so much money on Yakubu.
Jarrod Prosser
10   Posted 11/10/2007 at 00:00:27

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Good point, ritchie.

didn’t Pirlo blossom once he was moved into a deeper, playmaking role?

Might also pave the way for Van Der Meyde to make a comeback.
Rick Cole
11   Posted 13/10/2007 at 03:16:47

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The dissapointment of the fernandes saga is really hitting now we are struggling in the centre so much, surly moyes has someone else in mind to try and get in January, seeing as he was willing to fork out 12mill for fernandes, if he still has that in the kitty??
Patrick whitty
12   Posted 13/10/2007 at 13:17:47

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I think you will find that alan shearer did his bit for the cause certainly for england.But newcastle what the f*** did they ever do? One man doesnt make a team but one man can break a team

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