Everton assistant manager Steve Round expecting warm Goodison Park reception for Arteta

The Spaniard is set to make his first appearance at his former ground as Arsenal travel to Liverpool on Wednesday, and David Moyes' right-hand man isn't predicting any hostility
Everton assistant manager Steve Round is not expecting any hostility towards former player Mikel Arteta when the Spaniard visits Goodison Park with Arsenal on Wednesday.

Arteta signed for the Gunners during the summer after six-and-a-half years on Merseyside, arriving from Real Sociedad in 2005 after the Barcelona youth product failed to truly establish himself in the Basque side’s first-team.

While at Everton, the 29-year-old became a key player and fan favourite with his creativity becoming an integral part of the Toffees’ style, with Round therefore feeling he is entitled to a warm reception when he plays at Goodison for the first time since leaving.

Speaking to reporters, Round said: "He was a big favourite here and I think the Everton fans are very knowledgeable and respectful towards the senior players who have played for the club. I think they'll give him a good reception.

"He was a tremendous player for us. His attitude when he played for Everton was never in question, his ability was second to none and I think the Everton fans respect that.

"We do welcome him back and obviously we'll be fighting hard to make sure he doesn't have an influence on the game."

Arteta’s move to the Emirates came soon after fellow countryman Cesc Fabregas moved back to Barcelona, and although Round points out that the World Cup winner is a tough player to replace, he believes Arteta will prove to be a worthwhile signing.

He continued: "They were big boots to fill when he went there as a sort of replacement for [Cesc] Fabregas, but he's got the ability and the temperament to be able to handle that stage.

"It was at that stage of his career where that was the next step for him and when he left we wished him well."

David Moyes’ assistant also spoke more generally about the match against Arsenal, insisting he is excited, citing the form of both teams being a reason to be optimistic about a good match.

"We've had a really good run of form against the big teams of late so we are looking forward to it,” he said.

"It should be a cracking game because I think Arsenal are currently top of the league on current form, they've won five on the bounce in the Premier League, we've lost one in 11 so it should be a really good game, and one both teams will go out and try hard to win."

Much of the football coverage since the weekend has been centred on Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba after the former England under-21 international collapsed against Tottenham and Round offered his support, while he also believes it shows the importance of sticking to the Premier League’s guidelines.

"I'm no medical expert,” he said. “But the guys assure me we screen the players every pre-season without fail. We adhere to the strict guidelines given by the Premier League and the FA.

"I'm sure now the whole system will be in review just to try to improve it a little bit more.

"From the club's perspective we obviously wish Fabrice the speediest recovery. The signs are looking good we believe from what we've heard and that's fantastic."

"There was a little bit of shock and disbelief that this could happen to a fit young person and obviously people were saying 'if it could happen to him, it could happen to anybody'.

"But by the next day there was just an overwhelming show of support towards him. There were a lot of people asking how they could get in touch and what could they do, and I think you'll have seen that right the way through football."