Fabio Vieira ready for Arsenal impact, says Mikel Arteta: ‘He is in a much better place’

 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta believes Fabio Vieira is now at the physical level required to have an impact for Arsenal.

Portuguese midfielder Vieira is expected to start at Oxford on Monday in the third round of the FA Cup. The 22-year-old moved to Arsenal from Porto in the summer as part of a deal worth £34million, but he has started just eight games after a foot injury disrupted his pre-season.

Vieira has used the recent World Cup break to get fully up to speed and Arteta hopes Monday night will be the start of a strong second half of the season for the player.

“He is in a much better place,” said Arteta. “I think physically he has reached the level now where he can compete at the standards that we want.

“His understanding of what we want to do is much, much better and now it is my role to give him the right minutes in the right position, in the right environment, to fulfil his potential. But I am really happy with him.

“We all obviously try to give him all the possibilities that he requires [to settle in a new country]. Then you have to leave the player as well, to feel and settle where he has his place in the squad.

Ready for the the challenge: Summer signing Fabio Vieira has taken time to settle in at Arsenal (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Ready for the the challenge: Summer signing Fabio Vieira has taken time to settle in at Arsenal (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

“It is very clear, he is very close with a few players. They have been really supportive of him and he looks happy. I think he would like to play more minutes, but in general he looks really happy and he has adapted well to the team.”

Arteta is expected to make changes to his team on Monday night, with Emile Smith Rowe hoping to make his first match-day squad since September, before Arsenal face north London rivals Tottenham on Sunday.

Arsenal are currently five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, but there is no chance of Arteta solely focusing on their title challenge. That much was made clear last season, when Arsenal crashed out of the FA Cup in the third round for the only second time since 1996 when they lost 1-0 at Nottingham Forest.

Arteta was livid after the match and his full fury was captured in Amazon’s fly-on-the-wall documentary. “I accept losing guys, I accept losing. I don’t accept these f****** standards,” said Arteta. “I am telling you, I don’t accept them. It is nowhere near. You agree with me, guys? Yeah? Then between you, f****** do it and demand yourself, that’s what I am telling you in f****** training.

“When I lose a duel, I am upset! Because that’s the f****** standard, because you come here and now you f****** lose.”

The minute-long rant ends with Arteta summarising the performance as “f****** s**t”, banging a laundry basket on the floor and storming out the dressing room. That Forest defeat was a chastening night for many of Arteta’s squad and the Spaniard hopes they have learned from it.

Arteta is also calling upon his own experiences of playing Cup ties at the likes of Macclesfield and Millwall during his playing days.

“I have flashes. I can’t remember every game. I have had some tough experiences as well,” he said. “Hopefully we have learned and we have had a really recent one (lesson) last season.

“It is a different game as they (the players) may face different things in the game that probably you are not used to.”

Arsenal face a tough run of games this month, with Monday night’s tie being followed by League matches against Tottenham and Manchester United — and a possible fourth-round trip to Manchester City. As last season showed, Arteta will not be happy if a lower league side stops Arsenal’s momentum building.