Premier League

Arteta masterclass

With the start of the Premier League less than two weeks away, Arsenal star Mikel Arteta provides an insight into the key skills needed to play the defence-splitting pass

Arteta - Defence splitting pass

Whether playing against a defensive side who have packed men behind the ball or if in a tight top-of-the-table clash, the ability to break down an opponent is one of the most integral skills in football.

It is a tough technique to execute in terms of space, vision, awareness and, of course, passing accuracy. But, if mastered, it can take defenders out of the game and prove to be the difference between winning and losing.

Every Premier League team will therefore be working on their skills in this department as the new season draws ever closer and their passing midfielders will especially need to perfect their ability to ensure they start the campaign on song.

The training fields will be hugely important over coming days as players repeat drills on their technique in order to improve and ensure that when the pressure is on when the competition begins, they do not struggle.

Pre-season training is traditionally a period of dread for professional footballers but away from the gruelling fitness work which is undertaken under the watchful eye of their coaches, skills such as passing are also key.

Bigger picture: Arteta highlights the need to be aware of the running of team-mates and the position of defenders

Mikel Arteta divides opinion but he is undoubtedly a master of the passing art. Some see Arsenal's midfielder as a key and influential player while others question his effectiveness.

But Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has never had any doubts and the statistics speak for themselves - Spaniard Arteta is one of the best passers in the Premier League and Europe and he is undoubtedly capable of playing that 'killer pass'.

Premier League 2012/2013 (Minimum 999 passes)   
RankPlayerPassesPassing Accuracy
1Ki Sung-Yueng161892.71
2Mikel Arteta275091.53
3Per Mertesacker170291.48
4Leon Britton176891.40
5Mousa Dembele158891.31

However, it has not been without hard work for Arteta and he has had to focus intensely on the training pitch to ensure his passing is amongst the sharpest in the business.

He explains: "As I open my body, I am aware of the position of other players. When I receive the ball, the first touch is forwards and then I recognise the run.

"I play the ball between the defenders and it is a killer pass."

Mikel Arteta: 'When I receive the ball, the first touch is forwards and then I recognise the run'

The key is therefore to create time on the ball and have a picture of what is happening on the pitch in terms of a team-mates and opposition defenders.

"Mikel Arteta is a very gifted footballer. He is a great lad to work with"

David Moyes

Quotes of the week

There is no doubt Arteta is respected for what he does within the game and his former Everton boss, David Moyes, who is now at Manchester United, was always glowing in his praise.

"He is a very gifted footballer. He is a great lad to work with," said Moyes last November.

"I think the manager [Wenger] was probably surprised what he offers. He is a great professional and a really good footballer."

So, Arteta's advice is full of value and the important elements are to create a big picture of what is happening in the game, ensure a positive first touch and be aware of the running of team-mates.

Mikel Arteta wears the super soft PUMA King. It's in his nature to be the Ringleader - he runs the show. Arteta has filmed exclusive Nature of Performance training videos to help you become the master at playing the killer pass. Head to facebook.com/pumafootball to watch and share