The Frenchman reveals he is pleased with how the former Everton man has adapted to the Gunners’ style, and says only bad luck has held him back on the international stageMikel Arteta has played a key role in Arsenal’s recent resurgence, according to manager Arsene Wenger.
"He is an important player for our team," the Frenchman told the club's official website. "He is really a player between Song and Ramsey or Rosicky and that gives us continuity.
Arteta has improved steadily for the Gunners since arriving from Everton for around 10 million pounds on transfer deadline day, and on Saturday capped an impressive performance with the third and final goal in a 3-0 win over West Brom.
Wenger revealed he is pleased with the speed at which his summer signing has adapted to a new style of play, and believes the Spaniard’s ball retention skills have become an important asset to the team in the absence of the injured Jack Wilshere.
"When we need to keep the ball he can achieve that - Jack [Wilshere] can do that as well. But with Jack missing he is a player who can keep the ball when it is needed," he explained.
"He is adapting to our game. If you look at the stats in the Premier League, Arsenal are the team who play the least balls backwards."
He added, "That means when you have the ball it is not only a question of decision-making, it's a question of opportunity. It's about how many players you have in front of you - if you have players behind you have to play it backwards."
Despite being in good form Arteta is unlikely to get a call-up to the Spanish national team, but Wenger believes this is more a result of the country’s wealth of talent than any failing on his player’s part.
"In a different way he is like [Ryan] Giggs," he said. "He had the bad luck to play for Wales who never went to a big tournament. Arteta was born in Spain where they have plenty of midfielders who are absolutely outstanding."
"What maybe didn't help him is that he was very young and he did not move to clubs who were maybe as glamorous as they should have been.
"It shows what I always say - 90 percent of a player's career is the club. It's the club who makes the career of the players.
“If he was English he would have an international career here."
How do you stay up to date with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com – your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.