Stats: Is it time for Arsenal to upgrade Mikel Arteta?

The Spanish midfielder is being linked with an Emirates Stadium exit, but how does he compare to the best in his position in the league?

Mikel Arteta is clearly a player that Arsene Wenger trusts, with the veteran holding midfielder making 24 Premier League starts for Arsenal this season.

However, reports in the media have suggested that the North London outfit will not offer the ex-Everton man a new deal, and let his current contract expire in the summer of 2015.

The Gunners did let fellow experienced midfielder Tomas Rosicky’s contract run close to an end before extending it, but at 32 is Arteta’s potency as a deep-flying playmaker starting to diminish?

From the outside looking in it has to be said that Arteta does not seem to have had as good a season this term as in previous years.

There is certainly a case to suggest that Arsenal may well be considering selling the Spaniard this summer and upgrading him with a younger model that is able to play a part in the quest for silverware.

To properly assess Arteta’s campaign, it is relevant to compare him with other defensive midfielders from clubs in and around Arsenal on the Premier League table.

But how does the Spaniard compare to Nemanja Matic, Steven Gerrard, Fernandinho and Gareth Barry?

Lets firstly have a look at the defensive stats.

  TeamPosError Lead To Shot / appsOutfielder Block / appsWon Tackle / appsEffective Clearance / appsDuel Won / appsInterception Won / apps
Mikel Arteta Arsenal MF 0.14 0.25 2.14 1.82 6.18 2.04
Steven Gerrard Liverpool MF 0.13 0.48 2.00 2.52 4.87 1.48
Nemanja Matic Chelsea MF 0.07 0.36 2.00 3.79 8.14 2.00
Fernandinho Man City MF 0.03 0.07 2.34 1.59 6.17 2.00
Gareth Barry Man City MF 0 0.57 2.20 2.50 5.83 1.60

Looking at the table above brings out some interesting finds. Arteta is guilty of making the most mistakes of the five players that leads to an opposition shot, while also blocks the second-least amount of shots on average. His clearances-per-game ratio is also fourth out of the five.

The Arsenal man does redeem himself in other areas though. His tackling is competitive, he wins his fair share of duels and also makes the most interceptions per game of the five players.

Arteta’s ability on the ball has always been a key component of his game, with the midfielder confident and able in possession. But does this come across in the stats?

  TeamPosGoal Assist / appsTotal Att Assist / appsAccurate Pass / appsAccurate Through Ball / appsTotal Final Third Passes / appsPoss Lost All / apps
Steven Gerrard Liverpool MF 0.32 1.87 54.26 0.26 17.32 13.71
Nemanja Matic Chelsea MF 0.29 1.29 45.93 0.14 16.14 11.57
Gareth Barry Man City MF 0.13 1.27 58.13 0.03 20.50 11.40
Fernandinho Man City MF 0.10 1.31 48.10 0.10 16.17 9.21
Mikel Arteta Arsenal MF 0 0.64 62.57 0.07 16.18 7.18

Again there are contrasting results, with Arteta doing well in some areas but lacking in others.

He has the highest number of accurate passes per game of the five midfielders and also losses the ball on average the fewest amount of times of all the players per game.

However, Arteta is yet to contribute an assist this season and has played the least amount of passes that have led to a shot for his team, while also offering very few accurate through-balls.

All-in-all there is a case to suggest that Arteta can compete with the best players in his position in the Premier League, with his hard work and retention of the ball proven by the stats.

However, it may well be that for the Gunners to really impose a title challenge a new dominant central midfielder is needed.

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