Earlier this week, Arsenal ran an interview with Fabio Vieira in which the summer signing from Porto declared, “after six months, I am completely adapted.”
It seems manager Mikel Arteta agrees with that confident assertion and is keen to give the Portuguese midfielder more minutes.
To date, Vieira has started just one Premier League match – against Brentford in September – and aside from an early appearance off the bench at Wolves has had to feed off scraps in the closing stages of matches.
Last weekend at Aston Villa, he registered another assist – his fifth in all competitions this season – once again demonstrating that he can make a difference when called upon by the boss.
“He is starting to give me big headaches because I see every single day what he is capable of doing,” said Arteta ahead of the trip to Leicester.
“A tremendous player; he now understands exactly what we want and physically he is in a condition to compete at the right level in this league.
“He brings qualities that we don’t have in the squad. Very eager to give him more [minutes].”
Arriving from Portugal with an injury that forced him to sit out most of pre-season was definitely a blow for the new boy but having reached full fitness and spent plenty of time in the gym trying to bulk up, he seems well-equipped for the closing month of the season.
To ensure they get the best out of Vieira, Arteta knows Arsenal need to play to the player’s strengths.
“If he needs to compete for 30 balls in the air against certain players in this league, I think he is going to lose 28,” he said.
“But if we give him the ball in the right spaces, and if we ask him to do some defensive work he can do… if we put him in front of goal the amount of times that we want to do, I think he will do really well in this league.
“But if we do the opposite I don’t think he is going to do well.”
As the dust settled on today’s press conference, Arsenal were handed a Europa League draw that will see Vieira return to Lisbon. Having spent his entire youth career at Porto he’ll no doubt be excited at the opportunity to go head-to-head with their great rivals Sporting.