David Artell: Stealth Bomber

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Stealth isn’t a word I’d particularly associate with David Artell. Brutal, powerful, almost beastly (in the best possible way – we like our beasts in these parts!) But stealthy? Yet somehow he achieves a state of stealthiness on occasions. When it comes to an unexpected, well-timed arrival in the box, he’s the Conference equivalent of Frank Lampard!

Admittedly he doesn’t arrive subtly, shaking off markers with elusive movement like everybody’s favourite public schoolboy footballer who’s named after his dad and parties on his multi-millionaire club owner’s yacht. When Artell breaks into the opposing box he arrives like the QE2 suddenly crunching its way across The Flash. But he does it, and nobody seems to see how he gets there!

He certainly catches me on the hop. In both his matches for Wrexham so far he’s made a run into the box in open play. This, I’ve no need to break to you, is highly irregular in a centre back. For a centre back as big as him to sneak into the box undetected just seems silly. Yet he does it!

Against Ebbsfleet his arrival in the box made me think something had gone wrong in my head. United had half cleared a long throw – which he hadn’t gone up for – and when the ball went back in there was a scramble and suddenly there was Artell, attacking the six yard box with gusto. Some part of my brain shrieked to me that it was him, but it was shouted down by the logical bit, which told me that it couldn’t be. Even though I knew the bloke who just launched himself into the goalmouth didn’t look like Danny Wright, I had to be hauled down after declaring it was him: my brain simply had to find a logical explanation for who this big bloke in the box was.

The thing is, defenders don’t seem to see him coming either. This seems to be an oversight on a par with NASA missing the meteorite which tried to take a chunk out of Russia last week, but perhaps it’s understandable. After all, their brains are probably wired up on logical grounds, like mine. When they’re organising themselves in the box, they probably aren’t thinking “We’d better watch out for their big centre back making a run across half the length of the pitch!”

I’ve already taken to Artell. He’s reassuringly big at the back and Chris Westwood looks like he enjoys his ability to clear out big centre forwards judging by the two excellent performances he’s put in alongside him. Furthermore, he exhibits an impressively fierce level of competitiveness: he’s a big presence on the ptich in more ways than one, and the referee of the Alfreton game certainly knew he was about as he bent his ear as the sides left the pitch (without every going near to crossing the line into pathetic Rio Ferdinand-style boorishness, of course). He clearly doesn’t take dropping points lightly, and that’s a characteristic I like!

O'Dowd and Artell: separated at birth.
O’Dowd and Artell: separated at birth.

He might look like Chris O’Dowd’s scary big brother but a word of warning to strikers who’ll come across him this season: if he clatters into you it’ll take more than switching it off and on again to fix it.

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