With seemingly only seconds left of last summer’s transfer window, the news was eventually confirmed that Mikel Arteta was an Arsenal player.
The Everton playmaker had been long linked with a move to the Emirates, and finally made the rumour into reality in a window that had also seen the Gunners lose midfield lynchpins Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
Arteta had big boots to fill (Literally, with his small feet) and was under heaps of pressure from the first second of his Arsenal career, coming from the mid-table Merseyside outfit, while Cesc jetted off to 2011 Champions League winners Barcelona, and Samir moved up north to the future Premier League champions.
A £10m transfer fee for the Spaniard seemed nothing compared Fabregas’ £30m move to Nou Camp and Nasri’s £24m switch to the Etihad, and many predicted this to be a reflection of Arteta’s performances.
How very wrong those critics were.
The former Rangers man made his Gunners debut at the Emirates in a 1-0 win over Swansea City and seemingly slotted into the side straight away.
Playing alongside Alex Song and Aaron Ramsey in a midfield trio, Arteta seemed to flourish in his role and was one of the team’s leaders.
The new number eight allowed Song to drift forward and help in attack, while Arteta enjoyed picking out the wide men.
He scored his first goal for the club in just his second Premier League appearance against Blackburn and would go on to net another seven that season, including the long-range winner at home to Manchester City.
It was only when he wasn’t in the team that you realised how important Arteta was to Arsenal.
The 30-year-old has fitted into the side a treat, almost unnoticeably and helped the side tick whenever they needed it.
Without him they lacked organisation, experience a cool head as the ankle injury kept him out for the crucial last month of the campaign.
So overall, a brilliant first year as a Gunner for the Spaniard.
His Premier League experience was imperative as Arsenal secured third place and helped make some of the other players look awesome.
Hopefully, we will see more of the same from Arteta next year.
Matt Cotton @FindingCotton
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