Mikel Arteta says Cedric’s recent starts for Arsenal are a fitting reward for the player’s dedicated attitude in training.
The Portugal international featured in every Europa League game and more recently has put in decent shifts against Newcastle United in both the FA Cup and Premier League.
Filling in for Hector Bellerin on Monday night, the 29-year-old even helped himself to a first assist of the season cutting the ball back to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to round-off the scoring in the 3-0 win.
Much has been made of the Gunners decision to hand a long-term contract to a player who was deemed surplus to requirements at Southampton – our opponents in consecutive games – but Arteta says he likes what he sees from Cedric.
“When he joined us he had various injuries and some difficult times,” said the boss ahead of Saturday’s trip to Saint Mary’s.
“It took him a little bit of time to adapt and get completely free and now earn the chances to play.
“The best thing with Cedric is the way he takes his profession, the way he trains, the way he prepares himself. So every time that we had to use him, he was always ready and always fit to compete.
“Even not playing for many parts of the season, when he had to play 120 minutes he was completely ready. The other night I think he had a really good game.”
Arteta went on to add: “When I see someone behaving like he has done and training like he has done, all the time trying to help but accepting my decision – which is tough for him – but at the end, challenging in a way where he is all the time competing in training and when he has the chance to play he does it well and all the time asking for reasons why he’s not playing and what he has to do better.
“I just want to reward this kind of behaviour and player and Cedric has done that for sure.
“We talked about some things about the game and then I said that he has to stay fit. He came here with a knee injury, then he had a nose issue, then he had another knee injury and now he’s been fit and competing. Now he’s got his chance.”
Arteta went on to namecheck the Portuguese as an option to play at left-back as cover for Kieran Tierney. That said, he also hinted that the Gunners might dip into the transfer market to find a left-footed option now that Sead Kolasinac is out of the picture.