Mikel Arteta has described Arsene Wenger’s return to the Emirates Stadium as a ‘great day’.
The Frenchman had been reticent to visit the club in person since he departed the club in May 2018 but finally ended his self-imposed exile on Boxing Day when he accepted an invitation to watch the 3-1 win over West Ham United.
After the match, Wenger dropped in on the Gunners’ dressing room to chat to a few of the players and to pose for photographs.
For Arteta, who had been desperate to bring his former boss back into the fold, it was a positive step in the right direction.
“It was a great day, it was a really emotional day,” said Arteta in his penultimate press conference of 2022.
“It finally happened in an actual way where he got what he deserved which was a big ovation from our crowd and a really good feeling of a welcome from everybody when he was around the stadium.
“I’m really pleased with that because he absolutely deserves that.”
Arsenal have long harboured an ambition to erect a statue in Wenger’s honour but the club hasn’t been able to progress the project without the 73-year-old’s buy-in.
Various reports suggest that work on the statue will now begin. When complete, he will join Herbert Chapman, Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Tony Adams on the stadium concourse.
Wenger will also feature on new stadium artwork which will be unveiled to the public on 11 January.