9th September 2015: Mikel’s getting his mojo back

Welcome to Wednesday on TremendArse. The internationals are all done and dusted and with with a bit of luck, we’ll hear from Arsene Wenger tomorrow as he usually provides the official site with the latest injury news on a Thursday.

Having had a quick look around, I can’t see any obvious injury concerns being reported for those who’ve been away with their countries. And of course, Jack Wilshere is due back any time now, so we’ll have one more option available for us to freshen up a side which has been struggling to spark in to life so far this season.

Whether Jack’s ready for this weekend is doubtful but with Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky our only other long-term absentees, we can at least be thankful of a squad in pretty good health overall.

One man who hasn’t been away and is just glad to be fully fit after an injury-plagued campaign last time around is club captain Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard has been speaking to Arsenal Player and expressing his joy at being back among his colleagues, saying:

I really missed it [when I was out]. I had a really tough period last year after my last game in November and I went through some really difficult moments with my surgery. For me it is the frustration [that is the hardest thing] because there is always pain and you are trying to get back everyday and you spend a lot of time doing rehabilitation. When the players go outside for a training session, you feel wasted. They come back, they travel, they have different times to you and you don’t spend much time with them. Personally I don’t feel productive. I’m here because I want to play games, make this team more successful and be a part of it. When I’m not able to do that I still have to contribute, be positive, be good around the other players, give advice and try to help my team-mates. But it is not the same. But I worked really hard and tried to stay positive, do my best and here I am again now, earning my place in the squad and ready to help the team.

And the former Everton man also explained how he’s used his time on the sidelines to analyse games in greater depth, and said his focus now is on being in the best possible shape to aid the team’s cause when called upon:

I just watch the game and things come to my head naturally – things that I believe we can do better or things we are having trouble with, weaknesses of the other team or if we are having a few problems. You are excited but nervous as you don’t know when you are going to get thrown in. When you get thrown in you want to be ready for it with a good warm-up and ready to make an impact to help the team achieve the win.

Although no longer first-choice when everyone is fit, Arteta is clearly a great influence around the squad. He speaks well, by all accounts in a model professional and as he’s shown in cameos this season, can add another layer of protection for the defence when we need to close games out.

What I would point out, is that we also have Mathieu Flamini for that role and I don’t think we need both in all honesty. Arteta is clearly the more cultured in possession of the two but I really think at least one of them should have made way for a younger, better model this summer.

That’s not to say both can’t do a job because I think they can. But sentimentality can be costly and if I’m being blunt, shouldn’t be influential in top level sport decision-making. It’s sport after all, and regardless of how much you’ve done for a club or how long you’ve been there, if there’s somebody out there better and available, I’m afraid that’s tough luck.

Luckily for the likes of Arteta and Flamini, they have a boss who isn’t as ruthless and cold as many others but then perhaps that is one of Arsene’s great weaknesses. It can be a fine line between belief in your players, and blindness to their limitations.

It goes without saying that I hope they both prove me wrong over the course of this campaign, and we don’t rue the refusal, or failure, to bring in another defensively-minded central midfielder before the deadline passed last week.

Til Thursday.

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