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60 Greatest Everton Players: #43. Mikel Arteta
by Ed Bottomley

2005-2011.
162 games, 27 goals.

“On the field, his talent often reminds me of The Golden Vision and off the field he has qualities similar to Alex The Great. You could say he is our La visión de Oro.” – Bill Kenwright

Our midfield laureate, Arteta had fantastic feet and a sharp footballing brain. Ostensibly brought in as Thomas Gravesen’s replacement – Arteta has gone on to outshine the Dane. No diver, Arteta was instead equipped with the fleet-footed skill and innate sonar to pick up countless fouls against him.

Post knee injury, we got a different player. If anything he seemed an even more cerebral player, soaking up possession, always looking to play balls on the deck – and rarely dribbling as much as he used to. Arteta, with his plastic Ken-doll hair and glorious portfolio of passes, attracted the attention of Arsene Wenger.

When Arteta eventually left Everton for Arsenal we all gave into temptation.

Temptation to paint him as the bad guy. Temptation to roar wildly when he scored an own goal for Arsenal. Lots of this vitriol stemmed from his apparent “disloyalty” to Everton when he scored a penalty against us. 

 

“Oh he’s changed,” people said. Whereas Arteta was a beatific blue choir boy on the pitch, at Arsenal he faked injuries, hen pecked the ref, and – horror of horrors, clutched his new team’s badge with pride, the sure fire sign of a changed man.

But a lot of blues were very  wrong that day. Arteta had every right to celebrate. This wasn’t Denis Law, an emotionless husk after scoring against Utd. Equally, it wasn’t exactly Emmanuel Adebayor charging most of the length of the pitch to taunt his former fans, a man who still so often threatens to collapse under the weight of his own twattery.

In fact, Arteta didn’t celebrate.

After he scored the penalty against us his joy was muted, in keeping with this new and idiotic fad of not celebrating goals against former flames. It was only after the ref called him back to retake the spot kick that his celebrating was more boisterous. Clearly emotions were bubbling over after having to take two penalties and he was extremely relieved to have scored twice. To miss the retake would be in keeping with the spineless Arsenal narrative. Dashing Champagne from their own lips, the kind of drooling cowards that can only be trusted to dine with blunt cutlery for fear of cutting themselves and should definitely not be allowed on any more trips to Munich… 

THAT’S why Arteta was so excited and happy, because he’d scored twice NOT because the goal was against us.

Does his behaviour in that game completely outweigh everything he did for us and tip the balance towards being a git?

No, clearly it doesn’t.

Let’s celebrate the player Mikel was for us, the best little Spaniard we’ve ever known:

Everton 2-0 Fiorentina. [Aet] 12th March, 2008
Aggregate score 2-2
Tie decided on penalties: Everton 2 – Fiorentina 4

In the first leg of this European encounter Everton had slumped to a 2-0 defeat, but back at Goodison, they took apart Fiorentina in one of the best performances in David Moyes’ time as manager.

Exciting, dramatic, climactic, and cruel, this game saw Everton win 2-0, and take Fiorentina to penalties, only to lose. The twin pistons in this energetic and committed performance were Mikel Arteta and Andy Johnson. Arteta, with his Clark Kent hair and his Superman feet bristled with confidence, and Johnson was a tireless blue-collar worker; it should be no surprise that they scored Everton’s two goals.

The shootout was a depressing lesson in how unfair this sport can be. Reducing this battle from two legs to ten penalties was to reduce a 12 round fistfight to a one inch punch. Fiorentina, Italy’s fourth best team with a miserly defence, were completely outclassed, and at times reduced to a bickering, dishevelled unit until rescued from the requirement to play as a team by a penalty shoot-out. The performance though lives on, from the thrash metal pace, the hot blooded roars from the crowd, to the ice cool way Fiorentina stole victory in the shootout. It was a night where Everton were truly brilliant, and still managed to lose.

Everton 7-1 Sunderland. November 24, 2007

David Moyes: “That was probably the best performance in my time here. Some of our football was fantastic and our passing and movement was just outstanding. It is how I have been hoping to get an Everton team playing and I hope we see Everton playing that was more often – hopefully it’s the first of many. Mikel Arteta’s first 45 minutes was nothing short of magical. The things he did on the ball and the opportunities he created for us were just something else.”

Written by Ed Bottomley

Everton fan exiled in Michigan. Duncan Ferguson obsessive, history buff, optimist. Follow me on Twitter @Dixies60

1 Comment

Perhaps the most technically accomplished player to wear the Everton shirt, 43rd?
Then again, Donald Trump is in The Oval Office and The UK lurching the the right; the world is hardly a rational place.
Arteta was an artist, who enriched the lives of true Evertonians.

by Dave L on Feb 22, 2017 at 7:48 pm


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