Ex-Toffee Arteta got us out of sticky patch, says Wenger

ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger has hailed the impact of summer signing Mikel Arteta as the midfielder prepares to return to former club Everton for the first time tonight.

The Gunners travel to Goodison Park buoyed by five successive Premier League wins, which have reignited their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

And Wenger believes Arteta’s quiet assurance and steadying influence during the club’s most tumultuous campaign in recent memory has been a major factor in the north Londoners’ resurgence.

“He always gives you a certain level of quality,” said Wenger of the Spaniard, who cost £10m on transfer deadline day, to Arsenal Media. “He is always 100 per cent focused and committed and that’s what you want from a real professional. As well he brings the best out of other players.

“Aaron Ramsey, it is basically his first full season, he has done extremely well. He can learn from the experience of players like Arteta and [Alex] Song, [Tomas] Rosicky. That is something vital when you want to develop players.”

Wenger is likely to stick with the same team that snatched an injury-time win over Newcastle nine days ago, with match-winner Thomas Vermaelen having shaken off a calf knock.

Full-back Andre Santos is fit to make his first appearance since early December but is likely to be kept on the bench by Kieran Gibbs.