Across Mikel Arteta’s playing career there was a slight misconception of who he was, largely based, it has to be said, on his nationality and his attributes.

He was - and remains – Spanish, so naturally with English football’s in-built inferiority complex towards the continent, it all being tika-taka and technically adroit players, Arteta was viewed as a cultured footballer. Which he was, undoubtedly. 

Furthermore, with his propensity to spray the ball from left to right, and right to left, he was considered to be a baller. A creative.

Yet his decade in the top-flight brought a not inconsiderable 43 cautions, while for Everton and Arsenal he was sent off on four occasions. 

There was therefore plenty of grit in the oyster. There was an abundance of passion and fight amidst the civility of his football. 

Now established as a coach of genuine substance it is an intense will to win that has translated to a number of animated displays on the Emirates touchline, with the press naturally going a little overboard in referring to his antics as ‘rampages’ or ‘tantrums’.

Regardless, here is a Premier League manager who has swiftly gained a reputation for wildly throwing his arms around, hectoring fourth officials, and generally emoting in an extreme manner. 

From this comes a degree of surprise on our part, a surprise that feeds back to our original misconception of him as a model of Spanish sophistication.

But is there also some distaste at his actions? Is Mikel Arteta so excitable in-game that his behaviour appals?

The first point that comes to mind is that he is hardly alone among his peers in being, shall we say, high-spirited.

It feels somewhat unfair to single Arteta out when Jurgen Klopp too is widely known for his overly enthusiastic demeanour while Pep Guardiola is not exactly a picture of serenity when things are going against Manchester City.

Indeed, should an online betting market exist, focusing on which Premier League manager might be shown to the stands, it would be a wide open field every weekend. 

Moreover, Arsenal’s current circumstances are a pertinent factor, with the Gunners on the unlikeliest of title charges

Beginning the season priced in the football betting as top four contenders, Arsenal have instead staked a real and sustained claim to be league winners and given their disadvantages – on paper at least – to City, Liverpool and even Chelsea, it is a title bid that can be equated to a cause. 

How odd would it be then, if the leader of this cause, the man responsible for maintaining momentum and belief as his team strives to overcome expectations, was passive on the touchline.

There is however a however. 

Because if Arteta can be excused his animated ways, there is one aspect of his in-game management where he crosses the line, and that is when he literally crosses the line, straying from his technical area often, in doing so contravening a law that is in place for a reason.

For this he should be punished. For the rest, he is merely guilty of contradicting an age-old miscalculation of who he is.



Stephen Tudor is a freelance football writer and sports enthusiast who only knows slightly less about the beautiful game than you do.

A contributor to FourFourTwo and Forbes, he is a Manchester City fan who was taken to Maine Road as a child because his grandad predicted they would one day be good.