By Nick Ames
Mikel Arteta has recalled the head injury that saw him carried off during last weekend’s win at Anfield and says that, despite the concern it raised at the time, he’s fighting fit ahead of the Newcastle game.
Speaking in the Official Matchday Programme, Arteta admitted that his memories of the incident on Merseyside are far from clear.
“I just remember running and then feeling something - boom - and everything went black,” he said.
“Their player had hit my jaw and I hadn’t been expecting it so my face was relaxed. I was going in and out of consciousness – I could hear [club physio] Colin Lewin and the players around me talking, and remember starting to feel sick, and that’s it.”
Foremost in the Spaniard’s mind was the fact that his family were in the crowd.
“I felt bad because I knew my wife, my dad and my children were watching,” he admitted.
“I started to think about how scared they’d be, and I wasn’t wrong - they came to see me straightaway after I went off.
“But I was looked after really well, both clubs’ doctors were really good and the Liverpool players were very sporting too. Pepe Reina came to see me in hospital immediately after the game and the reaction of their crowd was really pleasing – especially for an ex-Everton player!”
The injury ruled Arteta out of last Tuesday’s win over AC Milan, but he is expected to return to face Newcastle.
“I’m feeling much better now,” said the Spaniard. “I had a headache for a few days, and wasn’t allowed to have any contact outside on the training pitch, but all is well. Everything was clear on my scan after the game so, while it was pretty scary at the time, there’s nothing to worry about.”
Looking ahead to this evening’s game, Arteta had praise for opponents who have proved credible challengers for a top-four spot.
“[Newcastle] have been really good and have shown great consistency this season,” he noted.
“They have a talented midfield and quick wide men, with two very strong strikers who can cause you trouble at any time. As well as that, they are hardworking and good on second balls.
"It’s hard to do what Newcastle have done – there was a period where they changed manager a lot and saw lots of players come in and out, so to find the balance they have is an achievement.”
- Read the full interview with Mikel in Monday's Official Matchday Programme. Click here to subscribe