ikel arteta has revealed that arsene wengerthe return of Arsenal for the Boxing Day victory over west ham was kept a secret from his players, but he believes his performance did justice to the legacy of the legendary boss.
The Frenchman was in the stands for the first time since leaving the club in 2018 when goals from Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah gave the Gunners seven points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 3-1 victory.
Wenger, who now works as FIFA’s Head of Global Football Development, appeared on the big screen celebrating Martinelli’s goal, which put the hosts 2-1 up, and was serenaded with several chants of “One Arsene Wenger” by part of the local crowd.
“The players didn’t know,” Arteta said of Wenger’s visit, which had been kept secret until the start of the match. “We wanted to keep it quiet and leave that space for Arsene. stan and josh [Kroenke] are here too and it was a very special day.
“Many thanks to him for coming. Hopefully when you walk through the building you feel everything that everyone thinks of him, the legacy he left here.
“He picked the right time, a really special day because Boxing Day is a beautiful day to play football and I thought today the levels were what he deserved and I hope he likes them.
“Hopefully he will leave here and be willing to spend more time with us and be closer to us because he is a big influence on me personally on my career, the way I view the game, but also on this football club.”
Arteta, for his part, refused to comment on Arsenal chase Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk.
The Gunners have made a formal offer to the Ukrainian club worth around £55m, although nearly £20m of that sum is understood to be add-on.
Mudryk posted an Instagram story of himself watching Monday’s game but when asked for an update, Arteta said: “You know I never talk about players who are not with us. I understand that you have to ask me the question.
“We said that we will try to find ways to strengthen the team. [if] we found the right players and that’s what I can say.
“The good thing about England is that there aren’t many other games in other countries at Christmas, so I hope a lot of people watched our game and we gave them a good show.” .