On Wednesday night, Mikel Arteta watched from the stands as Fabio Vieira and Emile Smith Rowe stepped up their pursuit of full fitness with 45 minutes for Arsenal’s under-21s.
The two midfielders were in constant communication as they dovetailed down the right flank and showed a fluidity of movement that hints at how they might be used in the first team.
Arteta has since confirmed the duo will both be available for selection against Bournemouth although most likely they will have to settle for a place on the bench.
So where might Vieira be deployed when he makes his long-awaited debut? That was the question put to the boss ahead of the trip to the Vitality.
“Fabio’s versatility is something that caught our eye and we believe that he is going to give us a lot of options,” said Arteta.
“It’s about nurturing how they work together and the type of players that Fabio needs around him to exploit his qualities, which we feel in this side could be very powerful, so we will have to wait and see how that develops.”
Arteta was also asked whether it was a deliberate tactic to partner Vieira and Smith Rowe in the under-21s.
He answered: “We want players that make each other better, and in order to do that, first of all there has to be a chemistry between those players, an understanding and timing and different qualities that they need in order to get what we want to get done.
“We are building that relationship; Fabio has been training with us for a week so he needs to develop that and see where he clicks and where he can make a big impact for the team.”
Arteta wasn’t the only important attendee at Wednesday’s Premier League Cup match with Swansea. Striker Gabriel Martinelli, CEO Vinai Venkatesham, Director of Football Operations Richard Garlick and first team coaches Albert Stuivenberg, Steve Round and Carlos Cuesta were also in the stands to lend their support to Mehmet Ali’s boys.
“When we have the time, we want to take the opportunity to be there, be close to them and give support to Mehmet, the coaches and the players,” said Arteta.
“We need to build the connection between the first-team and the academy and be very much aligned in how we want to play, evolve our players and basically get the talent into the first-team. That’s the aim that we have as a club.”