Mikel Arteta delivers challenge to Arsenal players and lauds David Luiz
Mikel Arteta has challenged his Arsenal players to develop a winning mentality like that of summer signing David Luiz.
Arsenal boss Arteta has identified Luiz as the role model his players need to follow as they bid to turn around their campaign after falling nine points off the pace in the race for a top-four spot.
The center-half, who signed from Chelsea for just £8million in the summer, has won league titles in three different countries as well as two FA Cups, the Champions League, and Europa League.
While the 32-year-old has twice been overlooked for the captaincy since joining, his influence in the dressing room and on the pitch has grown steadily during the campaign.
And Arteta has called on his Arsenal players to learn from Luiz's attitude in training and his recently improved performances as they prepare for Saturday's trip to Crystal Palace.
Acknowledging that Luiz was becoming something of a mentor to Arsenal's young players, Arteta said: "Yes, that's what I wanted to demand of him.
"He is a player that has won more trophies than anybody else in that dressing room.
“We have to use that in a very powerful way. I wanted him to step up, I wanted him to put all his qualities - his personality and his experience - towards the team and he made a big step forward.
“I am very, very pleased with him. Is he becoming more consistent? I hope so. In the games he has played under me so far, he has been terrific.
“His attitude in training, the way he communicates with his team-mates, his desire to still learn, it’s superb. I am delighted with him.”
Former Brazil international Luiz as now made more clearances and interceptions than any of his center-back partners.
And Arteta said extra one-on-one work he had been doing with his defenders was paying off.
“We have to because I have to share my principles and what I expect from them in every situation on the pitch, which might be a bit a little bit different from other managers," said the Gunners boss.
“Positionally they have to understand what I expect from them. We have been doing different types of drills.
“Drills where they are facing the ball when the ball is far from them, situations where they have to defend transitions when they are overloaded when they are in equal numbers.
“When the ball is with the full-backs, what I expect from them. Where I want the line in relation to the ball, not just the opponent, a few things that for us are important.”
Luiz has been criticised in the past for lapses in concentration, but Arteta said he had been impressing on his players the importance of communication.
“For me the most helpful thing for that is communication," he said. "If you are constantly communicating with your team-mates it makes you stay focused on what is happening all the time.
“If you don’t talk to each other there are always moments or gaps when your focus can go, and the back four can’t have those moments.”
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