Ahead of Sunday’s meeting with former boss David Moyes, Mikel Arteta has given an insight into the impact the West Ham manager has had on his career as a player, and now as a coach.
Mikel played for no-one more than the 209 times he was selected by the current Hammers boss during their time together at Everton, with Moyes the first man to give him a chance in the Premier League after being impressed with the Spanish midfielder during his stint at Rangers.
As a manager, Arteta remains unbeaten against his now-adversary, having won five and drawn once in the six previous encounters with the Scot. When asked how he feels about one of his mentors, Mikel was effusive in his praise.
“It’s more than respect, I think it’s admiration,” he revealed. “I loved playing under him. I would have gone through a brick wall for him when he was my manager, as everybody would in that squad.
“[He’s] a really good coach, exceptional at managing the group and dealing with individuals, and he’s a very special person, very trustworthy, and a man who honours his word. He always did it and he’s someone I learnt a lot from.
“He asked me to play in positions that I’ve never played in my life. The way he challenged me, but at the same time the way he gave me support, love and care – it was the right balance and it’s what I needed, and he got the best out of me. So, he was really, really helpful.”
The two men have enjoyed very different experiences in the Premier League this season, with the east Londoners heading into the weekend 14th in the table, just three points above the dreaded relegation zone.
However they have shown signs of sparking a recovery by winning two of their last three league matches, and have reached the quarter-finals of the Europa Conference League - remaining unbeaten throughout their 11 games so far, with the last of which seeing them claim a 1-1 away at Belgian club Gent on Thursday.
Knowing how Moyes will set up his team, Arteta has urged our players to prepare for what will be thrown at them from kick-off on Sunday, as we aim to maintain our lead at the top of the table for another week, and keep our 100 per cent record in away London derbies going this term.
“It will be a very difficult game,” Mikel added. “We know, we’ve been there a few times and we always find really tricky and difficult games. I know David really well and how he’s going to prepare for the game as well, and we are ready.
“It’s going to be a fight; it’s going to be another big derby for us and we’re going to be at our best to win it.”
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