Mikel Arteta started at Barcelona but it was at Arsenal that he seems to have found his calling, being appointed vice-captain of the Gunners last August. In this interview the man known to take a mean penalty-kick, looks at the season among other things. Excerpts:
How do you reflect on this season?
We still need to play for the most important objective that we have at the moment which is playing the Champions League next season but it’s true there’s been some really good games, some really disappointing ones. Overall, we haven’t found the consistency needed in the Premier League to be with the top team which has been Man Utd.
Do you think Arsenal can close the gap with Manchester United next season?
I think we don’t have any other option. It’s been too far away from the start and when you look at the options they’ve got and our options, we have to be realistic and analyse that we have to improve.
Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund stunned everyone by beating Barcelona and Real Madrid; do you think there has been a shift of power of European football from Spain to Germany?
I think over the past 5-6 years, the distance between the Spanish football and the rest has been massive. So, we’ll have to see whether this is a one-off situation or not. But, yes, Bayern Munich showed they were much than Barcelona.
What is it about the Spanish philosophy that has made the country so successful in the recent years?
I think they have taken a lot of good things that Barcelona were doing and moved that to the national team. Plus they create good some fantastic footballers at Real Madrid, Atletico and other sides that make us (Spain) a really good team. And I think the manager (Vicente del Bosque) has been very clever in managing all those characters well and get the team to keep winning. That is not easy sometimes at this level and what they’ve done is fantastic.
What do you have to say to young Indians wanting to join the India On Track Arsenal Soccer Schools?
Well I know that Arsenal are trying to get involved in India to try to develop some academies and trying to encourage people. Because they have big population, I’m sure they have some really good players who probably haven’t had the opportunity to show how good they are in comparison to Europe.
So I think what they trying is to do is close the gap between the countries and give them the chance to develop and help talented players to come and join Europe.