Mikel Arteta: Pass your opponents off the park

Don’t join the battle

“Take the game where you want. If you get drawn into the battle you will suffer. If you start making fouls and giving away throw-ins and corners then you lose your momentum, which is hard to get back. Stick to your passing game and keep the ball in their half. If you start forcing the play and giving the ball away you give them the opportunity to hit you on the counter attack. Arsene Wenger is so calm. He tells us to keep playing our football until the last minute of the game, and that has paid off.”

Tire out the opposition

“Make the opposition run for 10, 20, 30, 40 minutes – they will struggle to maintain their work rate for the entire game. Once they get tired, they start to make mistakes and you can draw them into two versus one or three versus two situations. This is your opportunity to find the spare man. If you keep the ball then the opposition will get tense and want to get aggressive. This will force them to break out of their positions and this is when you expose the space. Patience – that’s the difference between a good player and a top player.”

Confidence is key

“It doesn’t matter what system you play, or how hard the opposition press, you can find an advantage somewhere on the pitch. You have to pass with speed and precision and believe not only in yourself, but your team-mates, because sometimes you have to put them in trouble with a one-touch pass in a tight area of the pitch. You have to play the ball to their safer side – their stronger foot or where there’s more space for them to turn into. Sometimes just playing the ball into his feet isn’t good enough.”


Arteta on passing the Arsenal way

Work your way out of any dead end with this intricate drill, straight from the Gunners training ground

"At Arsenal, we do a lot of exercises where you have to play through the mannequins, but you can use cones.

"This is a great drill because it’s real, you’re moving and finding the holes to play the diagonal pass, just like in a match.

"The drill starts with player one passing the ball through two mannequins to player two, who with one touch steps through the next two mannequins.

"He then passes the ball to player three on the outside. Player three returns the pass and begins his run around the three mannequins, forming a triangle.

"Playing one-touch football, player two and three exchange passes between mannequins one, two and three.

"Once player three has run past mannequin three he plays the ball back to player two and sprints around mannequins four and five.

"Receiving the pass, player two takes one touch through the mannequin gate and plays a diagonal pass to player three as he runs past mannequin five.

"The process repeats itself, with each player swapping positions in a clockwise direction. This drill will help you during a game when out to create two versus one situations against a defender.

"It’s also great for finding the spare man. Think of player two as a midfielder and player three as a full back or winger on the overlap."

Mikel Arteta wears the PUMA King Finale football boot available from www.prodirectsoccer.com. Follow @pumafootball

For more football tips see:
Xavi: Master the pass
Michael Carrick: Protecting the back four
Michael Ballack: How to be the complete midfielder
Mikel Arteta: Pass your opponents off the park
Yaya Toure: Dominate the middle of the park
Jack Wilshere: How to keep possession

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