Mikel Arteta says he’s pleased that David Luiz was able to put right last month’s nightmare performance against Manchester City as he led Arsenal to a clean sheet at Wembley that helped secure the Gunners a place in the FA Cup final.
With his head frazzled by contract talks, the Brazilian accepted responsibility for the Gunners 3-0 defeat at the Etihad in June after a comically bad 21-minute cameo that saw him gift Pep Guardiola’s side two goals on the way to a red card.
Tonight, he delivered a defensive masterclass as Arsenal upset the odds to beat City 2-0. The boss was delighted by the turnaround.
Facing the media in his post-game press conference, Arteta said:
“Any doubts about David’s reaction is unearned in terms of after that game [Man City away] and he didn’t have to do that because we all make mistakes.
“But the way he’s been training and helping each other has been phenomenal and I’m delighted people can now see this side of him as well and I praise him because he deserves that.”
Asked if he’d had to manage Luiz through the fallout from the last game between the sides, Arteta went on:
“Yes but David doesn’t need a lot of management. What he needs is that he trust him and we don’t doubt what he can do.
“The best way to do that is to make him play and he can take that. He’s done it through his career.
“He’s had some difficult moments and then he’s had some incredible moments but big athletes go through those moments and I’m happy that he’s at the level he’s at now.”
After the game, Luiz said he used his previous experience to stay humble in the face of criticism and noted that “football is about survival.”