Arsenal 3-0 West Brom: Daily Mirror match report
Published 22:00 06/11/11 By John Cross
Mikel Arteta laughed out loud and then shook his head.
It had been a simple question as to whether Arsenal were beginning to see what he is capable of as a midfielder.
“I hope not! I’ve only been here two months, so there’s a lot of things to learn, a lot of things to improve and hopefully I can do that,” he said.
“I’ve not had a lot of time to settle. We’ve been under a lot of pressure to win games, we’ve needed results.
“There’s still a lot to do. We can still improve as a team in many areas. We’ve just tried to get by but now we’re improving a lot.”
Arteta has come on in leaps and bounds in the last few weeks after, by his own admission, a difficult start following his £10million move from Everton.
Mind you, he had very big boots to fill – Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
That’s some ask so it was little wonder there was such pressure on the 29-year-old Spaniard’s shoulders. But Arsenal are now seeing glimpses of the midfielder who was so outstanding for Everton, and against West Brom he was simply superb.
Arteta scored his first goal at the Emirates, his passing was excellent and he never gave the ball away. He deserved to be man of the match.
But it is impossible to ignore Robin van Persie as he scored Arsenal’s opener and provided the assist for Vermaelen in the 39th minute and Arteta’s clincher 16 minutes from time.
The Dutchman has scored 29 goals in 28 Premier League games in 2011 and on Saturday it was not just about the goals but his all-round performance.
Arteta, 29, has grown up with some terrific Spanish players, having started out as a Barcelona trainee. He is friends with Fabregas, worked with Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
So when Arteta says Van Persie is among the best he has ever worked with, that’s some praise.
“He’s up there in the top three. He’s so good,” said Arteta. “He’s a natural talent, he doesn’t seem to have to make any effort when he plays the game.
“He scores goals, plays beautifully and there’s something about him. We’re so pleased we’ve got him.”
Arsenal made it nine wins out of 11. They are now within sight of the top four again and Arteta added: “The confidence is high. We’re much better than we were two months ago and we need to keep that going now.
“We’ve been working on being more solid but I like to get forward and I like to score goals. I want to participate more on the attacking side so I did that and I’m pleased with it.”
Arsene Wenger insisted he has never doubted Arteta and said the midfielder was just unlucky to have been born Spanish.
Wenger added: “He is like Ryan Giggs. Giggs had the bad luck to play for Wales and they never went to a big tournament.
“And Mikel was born in Spain where you have plenty of midfielders who are absolutely outstanding.
“If he was English he would have had an international career because we know him better than Spanish people know him.”
Arsenal fans are now getting to know him a lot better, too.
West Brom defender Jonas Olsson believes Van Persie is the best striker in the Premier League.
Olsson said: “It’s very difficult to play Robin at the moment – he is unique.
“He has got it all. He’s got speed, is very strong, can play with both feet and is good in the air.
“Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez [at Liverpool] are great players. But Carroll is more the target player and Suarez is the dribbler with speed.
“Van Persie has all the qualities that you need and he’s got all the qualities you can have.”