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Mikel in the Middle!

Comments (12)

After observing Fabregas for the last few weeks excelling in the centre-mid role for Arsenal, I was wondering whether our Mikel would be better suited doing the same job for us.

At the moment, Osman is playing in that position; surely Arteta would be a better choice. More craft, more vision, decent tackler... seems obvious to me. The Yak and AJ would surely benefit from his superior distribution from that position.

Perhaps DM could try him there on Wednesday against Zenit as we theoretically only need 1 point to progress. He's our best player by far ? shouldn't he be running the show !
Gwyn Jones, Anglesey     Posted 02/12/2007 at 20:48:29

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Paul Hennessey
1   Posted 02/12/2007 at 23:32:41

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He?s played very well over the past few years on the right though, he has more time on the ball and gets his crosses in - keep him where he is I?d say, the next adjustment to the midfield should be in the next transfer window if he can get a stronger, quicker holding mifielder in
Connor Rohrer
2   Posted 02/12/2007 at 23:54:36

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In Europe I would say yes. In the Premiership I would say interchanging positions form left to right to centre.

In Europe the aim is to keep the ball and retain possession and Mikel is our best player at doing this bar Thomas Gravesen. But Arteta isn’t a Fabregas. He’s a completely different player. Fabregas’s game is about getting the ball and spraying passes and generally dictating the game. He also has excellent vision and an eye for a through ball. Arteta is more of a ball player. A mover of the ball so to speak. His main attributes for me are his dribbling ability, technique, skill, short bursts of acceleration and short range passing. So really for me there isn’t a comparison and they both help teams in different ways.

In the Premiership the aim of the game really is to get the ball into the box as soon as possible. There is alot less build up play and alot more movement. Arteta is suited to a wide role because he can damage teams in the final third. also the physical side of the game is much tougher in the Premiership. Arteta wouldn’t have a chance against meat heads Papa Bouba Diop and Momo Sissoko. And yes whilst Osman plays in the middle despite being smaller and weaker he works harder than Arteta and it doesn’t really matter if he’s being ineffective as he’s not our best player whereas if Mikel moves centrally and can’t find the space to create we fall apart.

In Europe I think it would be a good idea. We seem to attack well in waves but our ball retention is still very poor. Even in spells against Birmingham and Sunderland they kept the ball more which can be worrying. But saying all this it just won’t happen. Against Nuremberg and Metalist away both Pienaar and Osman had played in the middle before Arteta was played there which tells me Moyes doesn’t fancy him centrally.
Louis Huglin
3   Posted 03/12/2007 at 00:06:05

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Mikel has played in the middle before, and it has been clear from those performances that he is better employed on the right. He lost out in the middle because of his lack of strength and his sometimes below par tackling. He is better employed on the wing I think because he is naturally under slightly less pressure than he would be under in the middle, so has that extra second to look up, compose himself, and work his magic.

A similar truth can be said for Osman, who certainly seems a better player in the middle this season than he has done playing from the right in past seasons. You may shoot me down for this, but I believe that Osman has a better touch than Arteta, and, while he has less in the way of creativity and agility than his Spanish colleague, he certainly does not lack in either department. His superb touch often buys him that same extra second that Arteta was often unable to find in the middle.

I think Davey Moyes has got it right at the moment with the positioning of these two in the midfield; there are other more pressing concerns for him to focus on, notably the issue of a Carsley replacement, as Neville or Jagielka are clearly not up to the job.

P.S. Incidentally, I have been wondering what Pienaar, or even McFadden, would be like in the Cahill role... could be an interesting trial if Cahill gets injured/suspended.
Arthur Jones
4   Posted 03/12/2007 at 09:12:22

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I quite like the way Mikel and Pienaar can swap wings during the game , it definately confuses the opposition ?cos they don?t know how to cope with marking them . An addition of a top class centre mid would be a great move , as much as I like Lee Carsley , he?s not going to go on forever . Pity we can?t afford Modric , Appiah would be a great buy though .
Mick Simo
5   Posted 03/12/2007 at 10:37:18

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Arteta for me is best suited out on the flanks swapping with Piennar as said above. But can anyone tell me what the score is with Graveson? and is Baines still injured seeing he wasn?t even on the bench.
Colin Malone
6   Posted 03/12/2007 at 12:08:34

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I think he,s better in the middle. The only time he played in the middle of late, was last season, we played 442, i think we played Blackburn and they played five in midfield, hence Mikel and the rest of the four in midfield were over run. If we play with five in midfield i reckon it would suit Mikel and the team, After all he is our main playmaker and playmakers rarely play on the wing.
Gary Creaney
7   Posted 03/12/2007 at 13:19:42

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I’m not entirely sure why we would want to change the role Arteta is given. He started with a big name when he was young then went off the boil at Rangers and Sociedad.
He’s managed to resurrect his career with us and that has been largely helped by the way DM employs him.
The team sheet may show Arteta on the right wing but realistically he has a free role. All you have to do is look at some of the goals he has scored to realise this. Away to Derby earlier this season, last season’s wonder goal at home to Bolton etc.
Chris Keightley
8   Posted 03/12/2007 at 14:12:28

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What about Tom Huddlestone in the middle his team are struggling he barely plays yet is energetic good tackler and is good on the ball could get him for 6 million or giles barnes we have a habit of buying english players them two spring to mind.
Connor Rohrer
9   Posted 03/12/2007 at 15:46:10

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Gary, I think its more for the team rather than Arteta as an individual. Our ball retention is very poor. The Football has defiantly improved with the likes of Arteta, Pienaar, Cahill and Osman in the same midfield but we do lack that middle man who will keep the ball and dictate. We seem to attack brilliantly in waves yet the opposition teams control possession of the game. And taking into account that in the Premiership ball retention is less important than in Europe where the aim of the game is to keep the ball.

Already in our 4 European games we have only controlled one game and that was against Larissa AE at Goodision and even then it was only for 70 minutes. Both Metalist twice and Nuremberg had alot more possession than us.

Playing in the middle for me does restrict Arteta’s game but one thing he can do is keep the ball and dictate a game and that is exactly what we need in Europe. Thats why I mentioned interchanging. The likes of Pienaar, Arteta and Osman are all capable of playing left, right and centre so we should swap and change to hurt teams in different ways.

I personally would like to see Gravesen against St Petersburg. He is exactly the midfielder we need centrally. He’s better at Arteta at retaining possession, dictating play and in my opinion has more vision. He’s also stronger and more physical which is what we need. If Tommy plays then we dont have to worry about moving Arteta centrally and he can play his more natural game out wide using his dribbling ability and creativity from wide areas.

The question is Gravesen fit. He looked unfit against Larissa AE but now he has had more training aswell. The team needs freshening up a bit and we need to rotate or we’ll be burned out by Christmas.

My team for Zenit St Petersburg:

...................Howard......................

Neville..Jagielka...Lescott...Baines

Arteta.....Grav.....Carsley...Pienaar

.....................Osman.....................

....................Johnson...................
Chris Keightley
10   Posted 03/12/2007 at 16:28:38

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Connor "gravesen has more vision than arteta" better at dictating play ??? gravesen struggles to make the bench arteta is at the centre of all that everton create on an attacking front, arteta versus gravesen in the middle only one winner there and he likes paella !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Connor Rohrer
11   Posted 03/12/2007 at 17:09:52

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Chris, yes Gravesen does have more vision than Arteta and yes he is better at retaining the ball and spraying passes. When was the last time you saw Arteta hit a through ball to one of our strikers? I can’t remember many to be honest as he hardly ever spots the killer pass.

Did I say Gravesen was more creative? No I said certain aspects of his game are better than Arteta’s which they are. Arteta main attributes are his dribbling ability, technique and short range passing whereas Gravesen is a midfielder who dictates the play of a game and can pick out a killer pass. Just go back to his last season the amount of times he played Marcus Bent one on one with the keeper. Gravesen also shows for the ball and makes himself available whereas Arteta if the going gets touch doesn’t.

If Gravesen can get fit and able to play then I’d rather see him in the middle than Mikel because Arteta is more effective out wide. It would be better than Arteta having to come inside and restrict his game.

Jesus lad you are aloud to criticize Arteta you know. Fair enough he’s a good player but he’s not god. I
Mike James
12   Posted 03/12/2007 at 19:37:24

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I think Arteta is more suited to the wing, however he can sometimes be isolated out there and as was the case on saturday struggle to get into the game. In games such as this i think that Moyes should swap Arteta with Osman. I believe you should try and get your best player on the ball as much a possible, with playing similar players such as Pienaar and Osman we could do this, even for just 20 min to see how it goes, without disrupting the balance of the team.

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