Merson: Arsenal star is 'out of his depth', Arsene Wenger disagrees

Arteta Free Kick

Former Arsenal star Paul Merson believes Mikel Arteta is out of his depth at playing a holding midfield role.

Former Arsenal star Paul Merson has criticised midfielder Mikel Arteta, believing him not up to standard in a defensice midfield position.

The former Premier League winner told SkySports that while Arteta can do a job for Arsenal, he is 'out of his depth' at the very top level.

His comments were echoed by former Liverpool and Manchester City midfielder Dietmar Hamann, who said that the Spaniard was better at Everton.

Merson said: "I don't think he can play in the Arsenal team if he went forward, I think this is the only position he can play. He's not got the legs of Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla. He's not got that kind of skill any more.

"I just think he's a bit out of his depth if I'm being honest, in this holding midfield role."

Dietmar Hamann added: "He played his best years of football at Everton. There he had more or less a free role, he played on the left could drift where he wanted to. He set up a lot of goals and scored a lot of goals.

"Now he plays in a holding role, I think defensively he's not astute and aware enough. If they want to move forward and be in contention for trophies they need a holding midfielder."

Arsene Wenger on the other hand feels differently, he has not only made the Spaniard captain, but elected not to sign a defensive midfielder in the summer, mainly due to his trust in the 32-year-old.

He even went as far as to blame the 3-3 draw with Anderlecht, during which Arteta left with an injury as the Gunners blew a three goal lead, on the Spaniard's absence.

He told Arsenal.com: "I think when we lost Mikel Arteta we lost out because he was one of the few who defended well. That didn't help."

Arteta is a solid enough player, and is arguably undeserving of Merson's criticism. He is the best Arsenal have in the position, even if he was ruthlessly exposed away to Borussia Dortmund earlier this season.

With Arsenal likely to be focusing their January transfer business on signing a central defender, Merson should expect to see Arteta continuing his captaincy in the heart of the club's midfield for a while yet.

 

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