Mikel Arteta says he’s found it difficult watching David Moyes’ managerial struggles in recent years after establishing such a strong bond with the Scot during their time together at Everton.
Arteta moved to Goodison Park on loan in January 2005 and had an instant impact as the Toffees secured Champions League football. They would finish 5th in two further campaigns before Arsene Wenger lured Arteta to the Emirates in 2011.
Despite going their separate ways, Arteta has regularly credited Moyes for giving him the tools to succeed on and off the pitch and he’s pleased his old mentor is enjoying such a successful season at West Ham.
“I suffered when he had a difficult time because I didn’t think it was very fair on him that he was given no time in some places,” he said ahead of Sunday’s clash at the London Stadium.
“I know about his qualities and I’m glad to see that now he is enjoying it and doing what he is really good at. I can see his team being what he is and what he likes to do.”
He added: “He was the one that introduced me to the Premier League and he has been a huge influence.
“First of all on a personal level because I think he made me a better person, made me mature in the earlier stages of my career.
“He was really demanding and challenging but at the same time really, really supportive.
“I learned a lot as well as a footballer, I think he made me a much more complete player, he made me play in different positions and gave me a lot of responsibility as well. I have great memories with him and we had some great times together.”
Heading into the game, Arsenal are seven points behind the Hammers and desperately need a win to maintain any chance of qualifying for Europa via the league. Arteta is wary of the threat facing his players given the extra time off enjoyed by Moyes’ players.
“I think they have a really strong squad and they have a great manager and coaching staff,” he said.
“They started the season with some doubts but I know what David is capable of doing. He gets the group together, they’re working really hard for each other, they’ve recruited really well and you can start to see the things that David has done.
“Obviously they have a little bit more time during the week to prepare football matches and training, and I think they’ve been in great form and they’re a really dangerous team.”
For his part, Moyes has been similarly positive about Arteta’s work at Arsenal. While the Gunners have flattered to deceive domestically, the Scot thinks the project is moving in the right direction.
On Friday, he said: “The one thing Mikel has got is a great playing experience and he understands the club from that point of view, and he worked under a great manager in Arsene Wenger there.
“He also had the chance to do a couple of years watching Pep Guardiola working at Manchester City, so he had a great opportunity to learn from that, but then he has to go on and become his own person as well.
“I think Arsenal were going to take a little bit of time to develop. I don’t think that was something he could do overnight and change, but I think they’re starting to look as if they’re going in the right direction.
“The one thing you have to say about Mikel is that they won the FA Cup and Community Shield last summer, so what a great start for any young manager to already have two trophies under his belt.
“So, he’s had a great start in his early managerial career and I have no doubt he’ll go on and on.”