EPL

Arteta lauds role model Willian and Arsenal new boy Gabriel

By Sports Desk September 13, 2020

Mikel Arteta believes Willian will prove to be the ideal role model for Arsenal's youngsters after the former Chelsea winger, along with fellow debutant Gabriel, starred against Fulham.

Willian became the first player since Ray Parlour in 1992 to provide two assists on his Premier League debut for Arsenal, as he teed up Gabriel and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in a 3-0 win – Alexandre Lacazette netting the Gunners' other goal at Craven Cottage.

Arteta stressed in the build-up to Saturday's season opener that he had brought in the 32-year-old – who has signed a three-year deal after leaving Chelsea as a free agent – to add balance to a youthful squad.

Saturday's performance, Arteta believes, proves just how useful Willian will be for the FA Cup holders.

"Willian, you got the feeling he wanted more," Arteta said.

"Again he showed how much he wants it and how much he's going to try in order to achieve it.

"It's what we expect. We need a mix, we have a lot of young players with a big talent and a big future but they need some role models and I think Willian is a really good one to have around the place.

"He doesn't talk much in the dressing room but always talks on the pitch and that's a good way to do it."

As well as scoring on his maiden Arsenal appearance, Gabriel – signed from Ligue 1 club Lille – put in an impressive display at the back to help the Gunners keep a clean sheet, and Arteta is confident the Brazilian will have no issues adapting to the Premier League.

"We followed him a lot. He has very special qualities to play the role we want him to play and to adapt," Arteta said.

"I don't have to say what they are, I think you saw them all today. His character, his personality on the pitch and for a boy who doesn't speak the language to come in and do what he did, it's a big credit [to him]."

Arteta was asked if he has changed the perception of Arsenal since taking over in December, but the former Manchester City assistant insists there is still plenty for his side to improve upon.

"What we'll have to find is the level of consistency throughout the season. We've done it in one match. There's still a lot of things to prove collectively and individually as well," he added.

"We have another week to train and next week go again. What I can see is that they are not happy with just two trophies, they want more and they want to speed up this process and hopefully they are enjoying it as well.

"I want to get the team to a level that performs as high as the team can perform and be the best they can be. Time will tell where we are at the end of the season. My only aim is to get things right next week and keep winning."

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