As of 2018, Mikel Arteta has ventured into the world of coaching after retiring from his illustrious playing career in 2016. He has been a part of Pep Guardiola’s triumphant Premier League campaign and has all the resources as well as experience to form a successful career in the future as a manager.
However, rollback 11-12 years and Mikel Arteta was one of the most delightful and majestic midfielders to set your eyes upon in the Premier League. His elegance in possession, precise passing and excellent defensive work brought the Goodison Park faithful to their feet during a superb season for the Spaniard. The 2006/07 season still lives fresh in the minds of Evertonians, some of whom view the midfield maestro as their favourite player of all time. Here is the season where Mikel Arteta cemented his place in Everton’s history:
Fresh off the back of winning Everton’s Players’ Player and Fans’ Player of the Season awards in 2005/06, Mikel Arteta was already a fan favourite. He began 2006/07 brilliantly with a goal via the penalty spot, proving to be the difference between the Toffees and Watford. Goals against Sheffield United and Bolton Wanderers continued the midfielder’s fine goalscoring form, whilst also laying on assists for forwards such as Andy Johnson and Tim Cahill.
By the end of January, Arteta was on 6 goals, with his latest two coming in a 2-0 away win against Wigan.
These figures for a deep-lying center midfielder were very impressive, even if half were penalties. Not only was Arteta scoring against teams Everton were expected to beat, he was scoring against the Top 6 and therefore seen as a big game player at Goodison Park. 2 of his 9 goals were against Tottenham and Chelsea, which although were fixtures Everton did not win, emphasised the midfielder’s quality to turn up when his team required him.
But not only was Arteta scoring goals, he was often finding his teammates via pin point accurate through balls as well as exceptional delivery from corners and freekicks, the former Barcelona B midfielder accumulated 12 assists in the season. This was the third best in the division behind Cesc Fabregas and Cristiano Ronaldo who had more clinical finishers in Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney to finish their chances.
The Spaniard’s tireless midfield efforts were instrumental in Everton’s 6th place finish and qualification for the UEFA Cup. His ability to make the hardest things look so simple was a testament to his quality during his time at Everton. Although his trophy cabinet in Merseyside was empty, his personal achievements and performances were that of a world class midfielder.
Unbelievably despite even being named the 6th best player in the Premier League that season, the efforts of the former Rangers midfielder were still unable to get him a place in Spain’s midfield. It was just Arteta’s misfortune that he was playing in the same era as Spain’s greatest ever midfielders in Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
Arteta went on to make 162 appearances for Everton and a further 110 appearances for Arsenal before hanging up his boots. His efforts for Everton, although not bringing any silverware, brought unforgettable memories for Evertonians. Arteta won 3 Everton Player of the Season awards as well as various other awards for his extraordinary performances in a blue jersey. Yet his 2006/07 season stands out among all and is certainly his prime season.