Mikel Arteta hails new Arsenal "role model" after opening day Fulham thrashing


The hunger games continue at Arsenal with new-signing Willian the one leading from the front.

The Brazil winger may not have scored, but this was the kind of display he produced on a regular basis at Chelsea to lift two titles, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League.

“When that happens, some players have a full stomach” said Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

“With Willie, I got the feeling that he wanted more, that he wanted to do it again with a ­different club.

“So, I’m really pleased. I think I’ll explain that to some of the players.

“We have a lot of young ­players with big talent and big futures, but they need role models.

(Image: Pool via REUTERS)

"Willie is a really good one to have around the place, because he doesn’t talk so much in the dressing room, but does his talking on the pitch.”

The timing of the lucrative contract handed to the 32-year-old free transfer – as 55 staff were made redundant at ­Arsenal earlier this summer – sparked justifiable controversy.

But whatever the whys and wherefores of the three-year deal he’d never have received at Chelsea, Willian delivers.

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He had a hand in all three goals for Alexandre ­Lacazette, fellow debutant ­Gabriel, and skipper Pierre-­Emerick Aubameyang.

And if the FA Cup winners finish in the top four this ­season, it is a fair bet he’ll have played a significant role in it.

Of course, it’s early days, but this display from Arsenal ­justifies their status as top-four contenders. The Gunners’ ­defence is light years away from the shambolic set up under Unai Emery.

Twitter rolled its collective eyes when Mohamed Elneny was brought in from the cold to start in midfield, but the Egyptian justified his selection with a disciplined performance. And up front Arsenal were clinical.

Mohamed Elneny was back in the Arsenal lineup (Image: Getty Images)

If Arteta can bring in either Lyon’s Houssem Aouar or Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey, then Arsenal fans can start dreaming of even more silverware at the end of the ­season.

The manager has changed the ­mentality. The complacency is gone, so too the lack of ­direction. Egos are no longer indulged, jumped-up kids like Matteo Guendouzi can no longer get above their station, and Arsenal are ruthless again.

Arteta wouldn’t indulge the question in the post-match press conference, but the days of smaller clubs believing the Gunners are ther­e for the ­taking are gone.

Both these teams have played and won at Wembley – twice for Arsenal – in the 48 days since the last Premier League season finished.

Here the gulf in class was as wide as the River Thames.

Expect Fulham keeper ­Alphonse Areola, captured on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, to replace keeper Marek Rodak, despite the Slovakian’s fine ­service for the west Londoners in the Championship.

Scott Parker’s play-off final winners were in the game until Rodak allowed Gabriel’s header (well, his shouldered effort) to go in between his legs and in. After that, they were done.

Areola is too classy to be ­sitting on the bench while the fine margins go against Parker’s side. Arsenal may well have gone on to win anyway, but after that they were in cruise control.

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