Everton manager David Moyes believes Mikel Arteta has established himself as Arsenal’s leader and is unsurprised at how well his former player has settled at the north London club.
Arteta joined the Gunners on the transfer deadline day in summer of 2011 for £10 million and, ahead of his return to Goodison Park on Wedndesday, his former mentor has praised the efforts of the Spanish midfielder.
"I'm not surprised. He is a very gifted footballer, he is a great lad to work with," Moyes told reporters. "I think the manager [Arsene Wenger] was probably surprised what he offers: he is a great professional, a really good footballer and I'll be delighted to see him back - just disappointed it is in an Arsenal jersey.
"I see Mikel now and when they are having a bit of a huddle he is the one who is the leader and I think they look to him, he has taken on a lot of the leadership qualities in that side. He was part of the rebuilding process that had to take place at Everton when we tried to develop the team and move it on.
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The Toffees are unbeaten in the league at home since losing to their upcoming opponents back in March, and Moyes is hoping the club can push for a European spot this season.
He added: "We are going to try to push. A club like Everton are not out of their depth in Europe and we have to try to push to do that as we've missed out the last couple of years.
"Arsenal are a good team and that is why they continually finish in a Champions League spot so it is a tough game. We have been playing quite well and no-one gets an easy time at Goodison."
Everton currently sit in fifth spot in the Premier League table, a point ahead of Arsenal.