By Rob Kelly
Mikel Arteta has had to curb his attacking instincts to adjust to his new role as the deepest-lying member of Arsenal’s midfield.
The Spaniard has been utilised in a number of different positions during his time at the Club, but has assumed a more defensive role following the departure of Alex Song.
The 30-year-old has flourished in his new position, making more passes than any player in the Premier League, with an superb success rate of 94 per cent.
“It’s a very important job, balancing the team between attack and defence, and that’s what I’ve been attempting to do,” Arteta told the Official Arsenal Magazine.
“I’ve had to change my mentality a little bit - I know that I can’t go forward as much as I used to, and I need to sacrifice more in attack - but if it’s beneficial for the team I’m more than happy to do it.
“If you want to play at a top-level club like Arsenal you have to adapt to different roles and situations. We’ve got so many attacking players now, with a lot of quality going forward, and I know I now have more defensive responsibility.
“I need to assume that responsibility to help my team-mates and I’m very pleased to do it if we get the right results.”
The role of a defensive midfielder has evolved in recent years, and Arteta says there is now much more to the position than in the past.
“There are many different aspects to it,” he said. “For me it’s not only about how strong physically you are, or how demanding the position is physically - it’s about being aware, anticipating, being able to read the game and assess what’s happening.
“Sometimes you don’t need to make unbelievable tackles to win the ball back - not if you’re in the right position.
“But it’s a demanding position for me mentally, because we have a lot of defensive responsibility and if you don’t do it correctly then you can get caught by a run, or something like that, and it’s a goal. That’s the biggest thing to be mindful of.”
Read the full interview with Mikel in the latest edition of the Official Arsenal Magazine. Click here to subscribe or call 0845 301 7626Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source