Mikel Arteta played 20 minutes of Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace on Sunday, making his first Premier League appearance since November last year.
The captain returned to training towards the end of last season but, without any match practise, didn’t make the squad until pre-season earlier this summer.
He impressed in his time on the pitch, winning for tackles and buying a couple of fouls as Arsenal dug in to see out the win. Now Arteta has spoken to the Arsenal Weekly Podcast, which is being produced by the club, about his time on the sidelines.
“It was really tough because you want to be involved on the pitch,” the Arsenal captain admitted. “But as I’ve said sometimes in your career it happens.
“It happened to me six or seven years ago when I did my cruciate and I went over that and it was a very difficult time.
“11 months out and I managed to come back to my best, even where I was before. This one is at a different age so the challenge is there for me.”
At the age of 33 Arteta’s body is starting to really notice the damage done by regular football at the highest level over an extended period of time. Last season issues with his calf and his thigh kept him out for the majority of the campaign, so he is putting everything in now to stay fit.
“I will keep working hard to get my chance and see if I see if I have the stuff to keep playing,” said the Spaniard.
Even when he is off the pitch, Arteta takes his role as captain very seriously and continues to add a lot to the team, and the club. He watches every game and lends a helping hand to Arsène Wenger as well as his teammates.
“I just try to improve things and catch stuff early when I notice that something can start to change or go wrong.
“From time to time I get some other stuff to do, propose some stuff to the boss, teammates, the club,” Arteta said. “I’ve got a clear idea of what I would like to do, what I would like to propose and having direction.”
The captain was awarded with a one-year contract this summer and, hopefully, we will see him make many more appearances this season. If the cameo against Palace was anything to go by he’s in much better shape than before.