Eddie Nketiah blew off the cobwebs to score with a cheeky backheel finish as Arsenal beat AFC Wimbledon 3-0 at the Emirates to set up a fourth-round Carabao Cup clash with Leeds United.
After the game, the boss was full of praise for the 22-year-old striker who came very close to leaving the club this summer.
“I think Eddie gives us a lesson every day in his professional should live in this job,” Arteta told his post-game press conference.
“There’s been a lot of speculation around him, a lot of debate but he’s got his head down and trained harder than anyone else, he looks after himself and he supports all his team-mates in any circumstance.
“So I am so happy for him, and it’s no coincidence that he’s able to perform at that level and physically how he manages the game, because he trains the best every day, so I am delighted for him.”
Alex Lacazette’s early penalty, awarded for a foul on Gabi Martinelli, and substitute Emile Smith Rowe’s scruffy finish had earlier set the Gunners on their way on a night when fringe players were given opportunities to impress.
In the build-up to the game, there had been suggestions that 17-year-old Academy midfielder Charlie Patino might make the squad. It wasn’t to be, but the boss made clear his time will come.
“He was very close, but we decided as well that some players needed minutes and it will happen naturally in time,” explained Arteta.
“Charlie has been good, he’s trained more and more with us and played a practice game at Colney and he was really good. Again, give him time and we will prepare him.”
After a third win on the trot, the Spaniard was also pleased that his side continued to build momentum heading into Sunday’s huge north London derby.
“It’s really important because confidence raises competition and brings the best out of you, when you have difficult moments,” he said.
“Now the boys have won three matches in a row so credit for how they have handled that situation and now they are really looking forward to playing on Sunday, which is the biggest day of the season for us so far at home.”