Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has revealed that Portuguese summer signing Fabio Vieira has been giving the Spaniard ‘big headaches’ as he pushes for more Premier League starts.
The Gunners, who sit top of the Premier League and two points clear of Manchester City in second, travel to the King Power Stadium to take on Leicester City in a clash that could see them move five points clear at the summit before Manchester City take on Bournemouth on Saturday evening.
And, though Arteta has made few changes to his starting XI since the season began unless they have been enforced, Fabio Vieira is beginning to catch the eye. Arriving from Benfica in a deal worth £35m over the summer, Vieira has been restricted to substitute appearances in the Premier League so far, but the Gunners boss hinted that could soon be set to change.
“He is starting to give me big headaches because I see every single day what he is capable of doing”, he told the media. “A tremendous player. He now understands exactly what we want and physically he is a condition to compete at the right level in this league.”
However, Arteta warned, his skillset must be utilised correctly, with plenty pointing to his slender frame as a potential reason why he is being overlooked for the first XI in north London.
“If he needs to compete for 30 balls in the air against certain players in this league, I think he is going to lose 28”, Arteta continued.
“But if we give him the ball in the right spaces, and if we ask him to do some defensive work he can do… if we put him in front of goal the amount of times that we want to do, I think he will do really well in this league. But if we do the opposite I don’t think he is going to do well.”
Having so far been used on the right side, and thought to be a long term alternative to Martin Odegaard, Vieira has in recent games been replacing Granit Xhaka on the left side of Arsenal’s midfield three, and could displace the Swiss international there between now and the end of the season.