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Arteta ? magician who needs to freshen up his act?

By Ray Robinson :  30/12/2007 :  Comments (36) :
I realise that I may be setting myself up here for some flak but here goes anyway.

I?ll set my stall out straight away by stating that Arteta is the most skilful player I have seen at Everton in many a long year, that I love his skills and trickery, that I wouldn?t sell him for £15M and that I really admire the guy?s obvious affection for the club and the fans ? but am I totally satisfied? No!

Unlike most of the crowd at the Park End who seem to think that the can do never any wrong, I?m frequently dissatisfied with him for various reasons:

  • He often goes to ground too easily ? yes, he?s frequently fouled but I?m sure that when he broke towards the Park End in the first half and then appeared to be scythed down by an Arsenal player that he actually could have remained on his feet and kept the ball in, possibly creating a goal-scoring chance.
  • When he thinks he has been fouled, he needs to accept that occasionally decisions will go against him. In this instances, he needs to get back on his feet quickly and help out
  • His corners rarely clear the first man ? likewise his freekicks
  • He sometimes cuts back on a man he has already beaten instead of whipping a first time cross in
  • He rarely shoots when presented with an opportunity. We know from his wonderful goals at Blackburn the season before last and his goal against Bolton at home last season that he can shoot from distance with either foot.
  • He frequently disappears altogether in away matches.
When he is on song, he is a truly magnificent player, a man who can make me stand up and applaud for a single piece of trickery and skill, but when he under-achieves, he frustrates the hell out of me.

Could it be that this is the reason that he does not feature for the Spanish National side? Would a little more of say Stubbs?s never-say-die attitude, allied to his undoubted skill, make him an even better player? I feel that until he generates this extra consistency and toughness to his game, he will remain a flawed genius.

As for his sending off yesterday, yes, it did look a little harsh but, again, he gave the referee an option to send him off by raising his arm. I?ve seen him do it before, catching an opponent in the face. Whether or not it was deliberate or dangerous, I think we?d all have been out of our seats claiming a red card if he perpetrator had been an opposition player.

We have a gem on our hands here. I wonder if Moyes can get even more out of him? I?m donning my flak helmet...

Reader Comments

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James Davies
1   Posted 30/12/2007 at 20:28:11

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Well Ray, I’ve got to say for the most part I agree. But then the perfect player doesn’t exist and in my opinion Arteta is the closest we’ve got to him. Every player out there needs to work on some angle of their game and I’m happy that the best little Spaniard we know is heading in the right direction.
Brian Waring
2   Posted 30/12/2007 at 21:03:31

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I agree Ray. Arteta is a magician when he is on the ball. But for me he goes down far too easily, his dive yesterday, was at the end of the day, cheating to try and win a free kick, and it is not the first time he has done it. If it had been an opposing team player, we would be calling him a cheating bastard now. It just seems to be a continental thing. As I said he is a magician with the ball and I love him to death, but I think it is part of his game he needs to cut out, because he will end up with a reputation along with the Ronaldos and Drogbas of this world.
Shaun Cook
3   Posted 30/12/2007 at 21:22:27

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Arteta when he plays is world class but far too often he does very little and has little impact. His set plays are often average and he doesnt shoot enough and he lacks pace. Cahill on the other hand is a pure impact player and in my opinion much more important to our precious team. I mean how many? Don t get me wrong ? I like the Art... but he has a long way to go...
Alex Taylor
4   Posted 30/12/2007 at 22:00:12

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I really think Pienaar is looking the better winger at the moment. Asides from his penalty at Man U I think he is starting to become far more influential than Arteta. Can?t wait for Baines to get fit and link up down the flank with him. Pull your socks up mate, we love you, but you could be doing better...
Stan Sheppard
5   Posted 30/12/2007 at 22:05:55

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Good points Ray. I was complaining about his corners yesterday right before he set up the goal and shut me up! There is no doubting Artetas class and skill and although his loyal devotees may say that you only bring his failings to light because of the defeat to Arsenal, they must surly acknowledge what you say is very close to the mark.

I agree with you but I also think James Davies ? the first to respond to your post ? summed it up best when he said he may not be perfect but he?s as close to it as we have had in a very long time. Arteta has improved since he came here and I think he will continue to do so.

Lets hope we can bounce back against Boro.
Mike Squires
6   Posted 30/12/2007 at 22:04:53

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Your quite right Arteta is inconsistent so was Alex Young, absolutely brilliant on a good day but frustrating on other occasions, you could include Duncan McKenzie as well.

Frustrating as he can be, I wouldn’t part with him because he is a joy to watch. It’s unfair to compare him with Stubbs. Stubbs level of performance as a defender is based on completely different criteria. A better comparison would have been the late Alan Ball who had loads of skill and 100% effort every game.

For a lot of gifted players like Arteta, Young
and McKenzie their performance was based on instinct not 100% effort, all though their intention to play well was always there ,it didn’t allways manifet itself

In my opinion you should enjoy what Arteta brings to the team and accept that he won’t be able to reproduce his magic all the time.
Ray Robinson
7   Posted 30/12/2007 at 22:50:08

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I’m obviously not alone then in having,shall we say,reservations about Arteta. I think I made it clear that I do appreciate his talents and although I recognise that he can never be perfect, he continues to frustrate me intensely - especially at away matches.

That "foul" at the Park End yesterday embarrassed me,although, it seems 5,000 others seem to think that the Arsenal player deserved to get sent off! Whilst I recognise that he cannot always deliver a perfect centre, pass etc, so much of his potential could perhaps be improved with a simple change of mindset - i.e. stay on your feet when there’s a goalscoring opportunity, shoot when you get a chance, deliver an earlier pass when the defence is back-pedalling, don’t embarrass us with obvious dives, stop appealing to refs when you don’t get a decision etc.

The comparison with Stubbs was perhaps a silly one. I was trying to think of a player who I admire for whole-hearted, honest, focussed endeavour without resort to "conning" tactics.
Ray Robinson
8   Posted 30/12/2007 at 23:05:03

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And forgot to add - Arteta and Ball - no comparison. Ball every time by a country mile. Bally influenced every single game that I saw him play in - there was never a game when he went missing.
Andy Mac
9   Posted 30/12/2007 at 23:13:48

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I have to admit that Mikel Arteta ("the best little Spaniard I know") is a fantastic player, but is a little to prone to "buy" a foul for me to be completely comfortable. Generally, I don?t believe he "dives". He knows how to tease a defender into a rash challenge, or lean into a challenging player to draw the foul, but I would prefer him to develop his game to ride those challanges more, and move the game on. Most certainly, when he is fouled, he just gets up and "on with it" (much to his credit, unlike Fabrigas etc). Well, maybe I?m just being an "old fart" sentimentalist, but that just seems to be my memory of "The Everton Way" - eg, Alex Young, who could dazzle, but stary on his feet.
Dick Fearon
10   Posted 31/12/2007 at 00:35:34

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If there is one thing that disgusts me more than a diving opponent is one of our own trying it on.
Derek Thomas
11   Posted 31/12/2007 at 06:01:08

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Yes, this ’cheating’ DID used to be a ’continental’ thing but now the more impressionable home elements, maybe having seen them get away with it for the most part, think well if you can’t beat them join them.

But are the continental UEFA turkeys going to vote for a none cheating Christmas??....yeah right!
Lue Glover
12   Posted 31/12/2007 at 08:37:36

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I’m glad someone else has mentioned this cheating thing. I despise it, I loath seeing any of our own trying it on and I disagree that ’if we can’t beat them, join them’ should be the order of the day.
I want DM and every member of the team to be able to stand proud after every game, win or lose and be able to say or at least imply that we are an honest team, not a group of ballerinas on ice.
When I saw Phil Neville chucking himself to the ground I honestly thought the end of the world was nigh. Him of all people.
Cheating is now an acceptable part of the game but it sickens me to see our players involved.
Terry Maddock
13   Posted 31/12/2007 at 09:10:44

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I'm a huge fan of Atrteta..but.

The diving has to stop... The one at the park end could have resulted in a clear goalscoring chance if he had stayed on his feet but the Gerrard?esque dive from Neville was truly cringeworthy...

I also think the time has come for the actors to be punished, for this game I would give Neville a red card for his cheating and Fabregas for feigning injury. Ricky Hatton wasn't down that long...
John Welsby
14   Posted 31/12/2007 at 10:22:28

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Good article Ray

And I guess I agree with it
Ed Fitzgerald
15   Posted 31/12/2007 at 11:45:35

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Once again the curse of fickle evetonians strikes. If you are looking for blame for the arsenal result I am afraid the blame lies with Jags (a player straight out of the stubbs mould) principally with Yobo and Howard bringing up the rear. Lescott should be at centre half as he is the best defender and the best centre half we have. If Valente is fit he should be at left back. As for the comments about Arteta I am speechless yes he in not the best of form at the moment but he is our best player by a street. He is the only player we have with genuine guile and has sublime skill. Sometimes I think Evertonians would rather have a team full of Carsleys, Nevilles, Stubbs and Jagielkas bombing round the pitch at 100 miles an hour crunching into tackles rather than passing the ball to feet. If we want to win something we need more players of Artetas class. Depressing reading.
Connor Rohrer
16   Posted 31/12/2007 at 12:11:34

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He?s always dived so I dont know why people are moaning now. And really its not really diving. More playing for the foul. The majority of the time the opponent does make contact and Mikel makes the most of that contact. He?s one of the best I?ve seen at it and people moaning on this site aren?t going to stop him.

I wouldn?t call Arteta inconsistent. Even when he?s off song he hardly loses the ball and is generally neat and tidy. His dip in performances has a lot to do with him playing wide right. It's not his natural position and there are times in games where he is badly needed in midfield. He?s excellent at keeping the ball and gives us composure in the middle.

I?ve thought Mikel actually done something he?s never done against the top well. In the big games he does go missing but against Arsenal he played to a good level. Gutted to see he?s missing for three games.
Zaid Omar
17   Posted 31/12/2007 at 12:10:59

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2 weeks ago and you wouldn't have seen an article like this on arteta. On the back of a 4- 1 defeat it often becomes easy to start pointing the fingers at certain players.. As far as I am concerned Arteta, together with Pienaar, are the only two players in the side who reallly look comfortable on the ball... pure skill and composure... that is little I can say for the likes of Neville and Carsely. Arteta is not perfect but, even with his imperfections, miles ahead of the rest.
John Welsby
18   Posted 31/12/2007 at 12:20:25

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Ed mate,

Calm down!

No-one is actually blaming the defeat on Arteta ? far from it. More so that no-one likes to see his occasional diving.

Plus with his ability, beating the 1st man from a freekick shouldn?t be beyond him.

That?s all anyone is saying mate!
Ant Hill
19   Posted 31/12/2007 at 12:46:33

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Your absolutely spot on! He is a great player but overplays at times, but he needs to work on his corners and crosses because too often they don?t beat the first man. I?d like to see him play in the middle again with Cahill, because thats where he plays best and he?s more involved in the game and he sometimes wasted and isolated out wide. Moyes should bring in a good wide player, so Arteta can play in the middle.
James Elworthy
20   Posted 31/12/2007 at 14:21:08

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He cant take a corner, cant cross, cant take a good free kick, dives, doesnt score many goals, plays poorly away from home and against the big teams.
Putting all those things to one side he is a great player.
Tony Waverleas
21   Posted 31/12/2007 at 14:40:31

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If Mikel played for any other team in the Prem and we were being linked with him then this place and others would be in a drooling meltdown.
I?d like to think 2008 will bring a change in attitude to this team and its players from the perpetually- never-pleased element of our support but I won?t be holding my breath.

Alex Krayford
22   Posted 31/12/2007 at 14:55:39

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James Elworthy, is this some kind of double-bluff sarcasm?
Matt Compton
23   Posted 31/12/2007 at 14:52:14

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It was frustrating when he got sent off as he was beginning to exert a big influence on the game. He was roaming the pitch asking for the ball, playing simple but effective passes This to me showed his natural position is in the middle. However as it stands he’s needed on the right and if we did get that elusive powerful creative midfielder we want, he’d probably perform a lot better on the right and be even more influential.

And let’s be fair, who else is there to take our corners and free kicks? Pienaar took over after Arteta went off and he was just floating them in, we need them whipped in. I’d like to see us use the short corner more.
Ray Robinson
24   Posted 31/12/2007 at 16:39:02

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I can assure you that it’s not the 4-1 defeat by Arsena which prompted this article. It’s something I’ve thought for a very long time. If anyone saw the away defeat at Middlesborough last season when Arteta was completely anonymous, they’ll know what I’m talking about.

He is a very good, even great player - I want him to be even better - and I can see ways (simple things) that could make him be even better. What’s wrong with that?

By the way I’m not into scapegoating and I’m not disheartened by the Arsenal result at all.
Brian Waring
25   Posted 31/12/2007 at 17:18:25

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Ed, I think you are missing the point. Everyone has virtually stated that the man is a magician, but they are just pointing out a few flaws in his game. If you were honest, you would probalby agree that most of the time his delivery from a dead ball situation can be erratic. Also, I don?t get the impression from this thread that people are actually blaming Arteta for the Arsenal defeat. I agree with you, that it was sloppy defending by Jagielka ? and you can add Yobo and Howard into the mix ? that cost us the game.
Dominic Duerden
26   Posted 31/12/2007 at 21:23:29

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Alex Taylor

Good player though he is, Pienaar is lucky to be in the same team as Arteta. Mikel is our best player by a million miles.
Robert Carney
27   Posted 31/12/2007 at 22:03:21

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This debate takes me back to the wingless wonders of 1966.

Ramsey could not stand the fickleness at times of players beating the same man twice. Also they were never industrious enough. I feel Moyes at times also follows this line. Remember the likes of John Connolley, Pat Nevin etc etc. Whenever the tackles were flying about we soon got frustrated and forgot about their natural skills.

I believe Arteta?s game is getting above this. No footballer on this planet can deliver what fans want 90 minutes of every game. We all still applaud the contribution extremely talented platers show us.

Us Evertonians are on the face of it more honest and sometimes more fickle than most . We want perfection week in week out. No-one gets it, enjoy it when it happens.

James Martin
28   Posted 01/01/2008 at 01:26:46

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I’ve lived in Spain for 14 years and it still surprises me to see the difference in attitudes between England and latin countries in general. One particular game last season springs to mind. Atletico De Madrid V Recreativo De Huelva. Recreativo striker ’Viqueira’ goes down at the first sign of contact and the ref points to the spot. 1-0 to ’Recre’. Atletico equalise when thir Argentine winger, Luciano Galletti, blatantly dives and the ref decides to even things up with another penalty. The icing on the cake was Sergio ’Kun’ Aguero’s ’hand of god’ goal on the line to win the game for Atletico. These cheating actions weren’t the worst of it for me, rather it was the subsequent reaction from the media and fans I spoke to in the days following the game. All, and I repeat, ALL of the criticism was for the ref. Now I’m not for one minute suggesting that he didn’t deserve criticism, but I didn’t read or hear the word cheat at any time in reference to this game. This basically sums up the attitude to the game. Arteta was reared in this football culture, and in one way it’s no more immoral than fouling a player. After all, kicking, tripping, pushing or holding an opponent is against the rules. However, if the ref doesn’t see it, we don’t complain ( when it benefits our team ). Or are you suggesting that if the ball touches an Everton defender’s leg before crossing the touch line, but the ref gives a goal kick to us, that Hibbert should go over and say ’no, it’s a corner that ref’. Cheating goes on in every country, at different levels and in different ways. In the end it’s diferent strokes for different folks.
As for Arteta being inconsistant, I’ll get back to you on that one I’m too pissed now. HAPPY NEW YEAR
Laurie Hartley
29   Posted 01/01/2008 at 02:19:36

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I have been feeling the same concerns about Mikel. The problem is I have gotten used to him being the best Evertone player on the pitch whenever I watch a game (which is every week courtesy of Foxtel in OZ). Just a few dot points:-
Arteta is seriously missing Osman’s presence.
Piennar is a smashing footballer and will become an Everton great - wait and see!
We still need a midfielder who candefend and create, to "take charge" of the midfield - then we’ll see Arteta at his best. Is Vogel that type of player.
I wish we still had Manny - if Moysey can forgive him I will.
Valente is Portugal’s first choice left back - Hello!
Yobo & Lescott were just starting to develop an understanding - the sooner they are back together ( I know Africa’s cup) the better.
And last but not least - there will only ever be one ALAN BALL. God rest his soul.

I was gutted after the Arsenal game but I still think we have turned the corner.

Finally - happy new year to all my fellow Evertonians. Remember we have to stick together because nobody in football is going to do our club any favours.


Christine Foster
30   Posted 01/01/2008 at 12:22:13

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I find it difficult not to agree with some of the comments made in the article. In black and white they show Arteta as a flawed genius because when he does get it right, and he does, its a joy to behold. As pointed out with many foreign players the UK fans have been brought up in a culture of tough, gritty no nonsense football. Are we being unrealistic though? have not the refs and the ruling bodies done al they possibly can to make football a non contact sport? Some of the tackles that earned bookings for Cahill and Hibbert would have been applauded as brilliant tackles a decade ago. You only have to look at how the Refs effectively forced a player like Duncan Ferguson out of the game. His attributes were no longer those the footballing authorities wanted in the modern game. Ask any player though and they would love to have someone who fought for every ball and risked injury to themselves in doing so. That was when football was a hard game. Now its like watching a game of five a side or two touch. No one gets stuck in because its an instant red or yellow card.
Arteta used his raised arms to shield off an opponent, he did not use an elbow as a means to incapacitate. Thats the difference. one WAS allowed under the old laws the second never was. Trouble is it appears neither matters anymore to a referee.
But if we are looking at cheating, lets be honest, players going down in mortal agony (my arse) thats were instant cards should be shown.
Ed Fitzgerald
31   Posted 01/01/2008 at 13:45:22

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Best two players in the squad Arteta and Lescott. Both play out of position for the good of the team (Arteta constantly).
No player is perfect but what would you rather have. Some of the posts on this thread would have bombed out Maradona for a lack of work rate.
Dave Roberts
32   Posted 01/01/2008 at 14:01:57

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I’m also a Park End season ticket holder and I couldn’t agree more with Ray Robinson’s comments about Mikel Arteta, unfortunately.

He is always checking his face for signs of blood despite minimal contact from opponents and he looks for fouls when he could and should carry on and deliver crosses. His theatrical performance at the Park End in the first half against Arsenal was outrageous-Ray is right, he could have crossed it. David Moyes should have a quiet word not least because we don’t want Everton players behaving like that-leave it to the cheats like Arsenal players and Man U wingers.

Ed Fitzgerald
33   Posted 01/01/2008 at 14:31:23

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You dont want to be play football of the quality that those "cheats" like ronaldo, hleb, tevez, rosicky play. I suppose you would prefer full blooded challenges that snap people in two (thats cheating isnt it?)

Fact skilful players get fouled more and try to win free kicks by diving etc. Fact journeyman footballers like Carsley et al commit more fouls and injure players (even our own remember he did Cahill!). How is this not cheating its outside the rules of the game?
I like combative players but not a team full
I dont expect Lee Carsley to do what arteta can do, so dont expect Arteta to do what Carsley does.
Paul Whitehouse
34   Posted 01/01/2008 at 19:56:43

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As Evertonians we expect to much, he?s never gonna be a ?Ronaldo?. The time has come to let him return to Spain. We should bite Athletico's or whoever's hand off if they're offering £15 mill. Let's get Arshivin in
Paul Jackson
35   Posted 02/01/2008 at 10:24:26

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I totally agree with the author 100% Arteta is the best we have had since Kanchelskis, however he could score more goals ala Ronaldo...maybe he isn’t confident to shoot or told by the manager just to supply the strikers, however imo he could easily score 10-15 a season like Cahill...Arshavin would be a perfect signing for us and I hope we get him..We need to consolidate our positions in the cups and league and players of this quality are a must!
Mike Adamson
36   Posted 02/01/2008 at 11:44:05

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Im inclined to agree with the main article. A Player with his talent should be grabbing games by the scruff of the neck and dictating play on a more regular basis. Look at the Sunderland game: he was at his best, for pretty much the full ninety minutes, and we scored 7. The Arsenal game: he got his set pieces right in the first half, and we were inlucky to only be a goal up at the break. This is what he’s capable of, and this is the huge influence he has on the team.

As it is, he drifts in and out of games too much, when he’s in, all of our best play tends to occur, as proved above, when he’s out he looks average and incredibly frustrating. I suppose its up to the management to get the best out of him a) on a weekly basis, and b) for the full ninety minutes rather that in fits and starts.

That said, he is still the best little Spaniard I know...

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