Mikel Arteta is fully aware how good a side his former club Everton has become this season and expects no favours from them when they come to play Arsenal FC at the Emirates Stadium this Sunday.
The 31-year-old Spaniard – who spent six-and-a-half years with the Toffees before joining the Gunners in 2011 – said: “Everton are having a great season and they have got great results against top teams, which is not easy. It was a big result (at Manchester United), it was massively important for them and will boost their confidence, so we are going to face a really difficult team for sure.”
“I know the fundamentals of the club and I was happy with the way they dealt with the transfer window. I think they did really well and improved the team compared to where they were before. They deserve to be (up) there.”
Wenger Calls for Change in Loan System
Arsene Wenger has ‘pleaded’ for the loan system in English football to be reformed so that loaned players could play against their parent clubs too.
On Sunday, Arsenal are set to face Everton, whose on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku has been a nuisance for opposition defenders this term, having already scored eight league goals in just 10 games. While the Belgian is free to terrorise any side in the Barclays Premier League with his powerful play, he won’t be able to do so against Chelsea, as the Blues are his parent club.
He could do Jose Mourinho’s side a huge favour in the title race this weekend by helping his temporary club take three points off the Gunners, which has led to Wenger branding the loan system a little unjust.
“The loan system has existed for a while. I’m not against it, I just think players should be allowed to play against the team who loans them out. I pleaded for that,” Wenger said while talking to reporters at an Arsenal Teenage Cancer Trust charity event. “If you sign for a club and commit to them for a year you should be available to play for them in every single game, with no exceptions.
“Even if you want to loan a player and you said tomorrow you cannot do it any more, you always find clubs can sell a player for one year with a buy-back clause and get the player back. But then he can play against everybody – that would be a bit more normal. When I arrived in England, you could decide if your player could play against you or not. I had it with Francis Jeffers and said ‘yes, let him play’. Now, they have decided that you don’t have the right, which is a little bit questioning the integrity of the players.
“We don’t have as many players as Chelsea. They had an abundance of strikers and maybe Lukaku felt there was very little chance for him to play. In England, you have no feeder club like in some countries. You find another way to give competition. But once you are on loan, it should be a transfer – you play for the club. You cannot play for the club only in 36 games and not against another club.”
Wenger Praises Everton’s Martinez
Arsene Wenger has praised Everton manager Roberto Martinez for the stellar job he has done at the Merseyside club since taking over last summer.
Martinez’s men recently beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford and now sit in fifth place on the Premier League points table, just behind Liverpool and Manchester City. Wenger believes a majority of credit for Everton’s transformation and strong start goes to their new Spanish boss, about whom he said: “Martinez has done remarkably well because they had difficult games. They have played many of the big teams in the league and overall are in a very strong position in the league. They have just come out of a win against Manchester United.
“We are lucky this season a little bit, because there is always a big warning before we play these teams they have exceptional results. That keeps us on our toes. We know for us it is a big game. I don’t think that (complacency) is a danger because we are hungry and we want to win. We have just put a few results together that should make us and will make us more ambitious, but as well conscious that in every single game you need to put a top level performance in.
“It is a continuity as well because since the beginning of 2013 we have been quite consistent in our results, but now we have a big week in front of us starting with Everton and we have to show we have the hunger and the quality to do it.”
Lavezzi Refuses to Rule Out PSG Exit
Rumoured Arsenal and Tottenham target Ezequiel Lavezzi has refused to rule out a January exit from his current club Paris Saint-Germain.
The unsettled Argentina international is struggling for game time and form in the French capital this season due to the presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani, and has been linked with moves away from the club in order to make the 2014 World Cup squad.
When Le Parisien recently asked him if changing clubs is on his to-do list for the winter transfer window, he said: “I do not know. A player never knows exactly all these things. But what I can tell you is that I will do everything to change my situation in Paris because I did not give my best shot and I do not want this to continue.”
Hamsik Out of Crucial Arsenal Game
Napoli will have to face Arsenal in their final Champions League group game on Wednesday night without their influential midfielder Marek Hamsik – the Italian club’s manager Rafael Benitez has confirmed.
The Partenopei need to beat the Gunners by at least three goals in order to progress through to the knockout stages of the tournament, but they would have to do so without the 26-year-old Slovak, who has developed a foot problem.
“Marek has an oedema on his feet,” Benitez said. “It’s not a serious thing but we must wait the right time to allow the problem to disappear. He won’t play on Saturday and probably not at Arsenal either.”
Mourinho Admits Arsenal Deserve to Lead PL
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho admits that Arsenal FC fully deserve to lead the Premier League points table but has also reminded that there is still a long way to go and nothing is decided yet.
The Portuguese trainer – whose own club is snapping at the Gunners’ heels – had a rare positive thought to say about his title rivals when he said: “In relation to Arsenal – if they lead, it’s because they were better, made less mistakes. So they deserve to be there. But the championship doesn’t end at the end of the year, it ends at the end of May.”
About Manchester United’s flailing title hopes, he added: “If it’s another club [other than United] I would tell you it’s impossible. With Manchester United I don’t say that. The potential and the culture of the club is not one to panic. They are still a contender; they will stick together, win five or six matches and they will look to other matches where teams will lose points.”