Some footballers play, go home and don't think about the game. Not Mikel Arteta.
The Spaniard is not merely Arsenal's midfield metronome, he's a student of the sport. Arteta follows the tactical evolution of football closely and stays abreast of his own team's stats and trends.
Arsenal's last game, a 2-0 victory at Swansea City in the Premier League, threw up some interesting numbers.
Arsene Wenger's side were restricted to 43 per cent of possession - their second lowest share of the season. Swansea dominated the ball but did not manage a single shot on target, despite racking up 619 passes.
In his Arsenal Analysis piece for Arsenal.com, Michael Cox noted that sports data company Opta had been unable to find a more extreme example of possession without penetration, going back through seven years of Premier League matches.
Arsenal, in contrast, passed with purpose. Abou Diaby and Arteta himself ended the match with impressive completion rates but, more importantly, passed forward to a far greater degree than their Swansea counterparts.
Arteta thinks that Swansea's approach helped Arsenal to play more positively.
"Every game is very different," he told Arsenal.com. "When the other team is trying to attack and are more open, there are more gaps to play through.
"Sometimes we play teams that come here [to Emirates Stadium] and drop. Between the lines, it's very difficult to pass, so you have to go around.
"This can be an explanation because when there's no room, you have to be patient and make more passes that won't show great progress in the stats, but are important to keep the team moving.
"You're always going to have people playing through the lines, but people are prepared and teams are getting better and better.
"If you analyse the stats in the Premier League this year, more than any other year there are less passes between the midfielders and the defence. That's a case of teams getting better tactically.
"I think it's important [to analyse the statistics]," added Arteta. "You can just look at the statistics, but I think when there is something repetitive about a team, that's interesting.
"I think you can take the positives and the negatives of that team and everything you can use to make the difference nowadays is important."
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