Mikel Arteta has warned his Arsenal teammates not to expect an easy game against Everton tonight, heaping praise on his former team as they look for three points in the race for a Champions League spot.
The visitors arrive in a good run of form, and it’s no surprise to a man who spent 6 seasons at Goodison Park.
“They just never give up,” he told the official matchday programme. “I know the way David Moyes will be preparing them for the next few games, because they still have the chance to qualify for the Champions League and that would be massive for them.
“They’ve been a very good team. They sold Joleon Lescott and myself in recent years and maybe people thought they’d have a problem, but they’ve been able to keep Maourane Fellaini, Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka – all very important players for the team – and also have guys like Steven Pienaar, Kevin Mirallas, and Nikica Jelavic.
“It’s a strong squad and some of them have been playing together for a long time together. They have experience of these situations and it will be a difficult game.”
The Spanish midfielder also spoke about stepping into the breach as captain in the absence of Thomas Vermaelen.
“Being captain of this football club gives you more responsibility, and it’s a big privilege. It’s something very serious, just look at the captains this club has had in the past.
“I always try to influence my teammates in a positive way, making we sure all play together and for each other. When we put our talent to the benefit of the team we have a great chance to win games, and that’s what I tell our players all the time.
“When the group does well, the benefits will come for everyone, and when we win we’ll all be happier than when we draw or lose.”
It remains to be seen if he’ll wear the armband tonight, but either way let’s hope he’s happiest at the final whistle.
Read the full interview with Mikel Arteta in the programme, which is also available on iPad right now.