Wednesday 21 March 2012
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he has been impressed with how midfielder Mikel Arteta has performed in his first season at the Emirates Stadium.
The 29-year-old Spaniard joined the Gunners from Everton on the final day of last summer's transfer window and has since become a key member of the side.
He has made 23 appearances in the Barclays Premier League this season, netting four goals, and his consistent performances have played a key role in the club's resurgence in recent weeks.
"He always gives you a certain level of quality," Wenger told the club's official website.
"His attitude when he played for Everton was never in question, his ability was second to none and I think the fans respect that"
- Steve Round
"He is always 100% focused and committed and that is what you want from a real professional. He brings the best out of other players.
"I believe he is a winner and a fighter as well. I think he possesses both aspects of the game of a real midfielder - that means he can defend and he can attack. That is what we looked for."
Arteta, who was at Everton for over six years before his move to Arsenal, returns to Goodison Park for the first time since the transfer in Wednesday's Barclays Premier League match.
And the former Real Sociedad player said he was looking forward to going back to the Toffees.
"Visiting Everton will be really special for me," he said. "It's going to be weird to sit in the other changing room, warming up in the opposite half of the pitch and having the crowd against us. I just want to enjoy it.
"I really can't wait to go there, and I hope I’ll get a good reception because I gave Everton everything I had in my time there and I love the club."
Everton assistant manager Steve Round also paid tribute to Arteta, adding that he expected the player to receive a warm welcome from the Goodison faithful.
"He was a big favourite here and I think the Everton fans are very knowledgeable and respectful towards the senior players who have played for the club," said Round. "I think they'll give him a good reception.
"He was a tremendous player for us. His attitude when he played for Everton was never in question, his ability was second to none and I think the Everton fans respect that."