Saturday, February 25, 2023

Mikel Arteta says one Arsenal player is giving him "big headaches"

Mikel Arteta has revealed that Fabio Vieira is giving him “big headaches” when deciding his team selection, following a series of assured performances off the bench.

Vieira joined the Gunners last summer from Porto in a deal worth around £35million but has struggled to establish himself as a regular this season.

However, he has come off the bench in Arsenal’s last four matches and played a crucial role in his side’s fourth goal during their 4-2 victory over Aston Villa last weekend.

The 22-year-old displayed his composure, making an inch-perfect pass through the eye of a needle to tee up Gabriel Martinelli for an open goal.

And his growing influence on games is beginning to give Arteta “big headaches”, with the likes of Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard all currently ahead of him in the pecking order.

Vieira giving Arteta selection “headaches”

When asked on Vieira’s increasing involvement within the team, Arteta said: “[He’s] very close. He is starting to give me big headaches because I see him every single day and I know what he is capable of doing.

“A tremendous player who now understands exactly what we want. I think physically he is in the condition to compete at the right level in this league and he brings qualities that we don’t have in the squad. I’m very eager to give him more.

The Gunners boss was pressed on whether he thought the midfielder was physical enough to cope with the Premier league, to which he replied: “If he needs to compete with 30 balls in the air against certain players in the league I think he’s going to lose 28.

“But if we give him the ball in the right spaces and ask him to do some defensive work that he can do – and we put him in front of goal the amount of times that we want to, I think he will do really well in this league.

“But if we do the opposite, I don’t think he’s going to do well in this league,” the Spaniard joked.

Arsenal travel to the King Power Stadium to play Leicester City on Saturday, and Vieira is likely to feature again as the league leaders look to extend their two-point advantage over second-placed Manchester City.

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