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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan at the Gtech Community Stadium

Arteta: I had a gut feeling about Ethan - the youngest player in Premier League history

Mikel Arteta at the Gtech Community Stadium Picture: Paul Lagan
Mikel Arteta at the Gtech Community Stadium Picture: Paul Lagan

By Paul Lagan at the Gtech Community Stadium

Mikel Arteta was in a very happy mood following his charges' 3-0 demolition of Brentford this afternoon at the Gtech Community Stadium.

Such was the Gooners dominance, Arteta even produced a piece of history by giving a debut to Ethan Nwaneri, who at 15 years and 181 days became the youngest player in Premier League history.

Arteta said of the game: “I’m really pleased the way we played. How we controlled certain areas of the game that are very much needed if you want to dominate the game and obviously really pleased to go top of the league into the international break.

On Nwaneri, Arteta said “It was a pure gut feeling. I met the boy (and) really liked what I saw. Per Mertesacker and the academy staff are giving me really good information, Edu as well. I met him, he’s trained a couple of times with us. Yesterday he had to come because we have injuries, especially the injury of Martin (Odegaard), and then I had that feeling from yesterday that if the opportunity could come that I was going to do it and I just done it.

“It’s another step in his career, another experience. In your career all the steps are not going to be forward. After that maybe he needs three backwards to go another forward, but I think he deserved it. It sends a really strong message about who we are as a club as well.

“I told him yesterday that he was going to be with us and that I want him to experience how it is to be in the hotel, to do a preparation of the game to be around the boys and that he had to be ready. If you’re going to be on that bench you have to be ready. The boy just looks in your eyes and he’s ready.

“As he was going onto the pitch, I just told him congratulations and enjoy.

All the decisions that we take and that I take are for the club. It’s not for me, it’s not for the player, it’s because we believe that he has a talent that has to be developed incredibly in the next two or three years. We will see how we manage that but the boy will dictate. Normally it’s not us, normally the players tell you and demand of you how far you can go on that.”

Goals from William Saliba, Gabriel Jesus and Ferreira Vieira saw off the stubborn resistance of Brentford.

Every Gooner played well but Arteta had special words for Granit Xhaka and Vieira.

Of his skipper, he said: “I'm impressed by is consistency. How he goes about every day, how he’s learned through different moments in his career whether they are here or with the national team and his willingness over time to stay humble, look forward and try to get better and when you do that normally good things happen.

“I think he feels now that that love and respect goes both ways. I think you see our supporters the way they were singing to him as well. It makes him emotional, it makes him try to give even more and I’m really pleased for him because in my opinion he fully deserves it.”

Of Vieira, he said: “I think he is having a good progression. He has missed the whole pre-season due to an injury and that was very unlucky but we know his talent.

“We know the reason why we signed him and what he can bring to the team but to do it against Brentford in this ground on his Premier League debut is a different story and he shows again his character and his quality.

“He’s a creative player who needs to play with his gut feeling and his instinct. That’s what he needs to do and we need to create as much scenarios as possible for him to put his talent to the service of the team. But what I like as well is the way he competes. To come here and the way he went about the ugly part of the game, I was really impressed.”

The league is halted for the international break and Arteta is unsure how he will spend it.

He said: ”Maldives! No, I don’t know yet. I want to spend some time with my kids and my family, I don’t know if that will be in London or away. And I want to look after the boys who are here because we have quite a few. We need to look after them as well because some of them are injured.”


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