West Ham boss David Moyes always felt Mikel Arteta had the strength of character needed to stand his ground as a manager.
Former midfielder Arteta, 40, was part of Moyes’ squad when he was in charge at Everton, later taking his first steps into coaching at Manchester City before being appointed by Arsenal three years ago.
While the Gunners now sit top of the table as the Premier League resumes on Boxing Day following the World Cup break, it has not always been smooth sailing for the former Arsenal captain.
Moyes, though, believes Arteta – who guided Arsenal to FA Cup success in 2020 and also the Community Shield – has proven he can hold his own in the dugout.
“Since Mikel Arteta has come in, he has done a brilliant job, got them going, won a couple of trophies and gone against the grain a bit where people might have thought it wouldn’t happen,” said the West Ham boss ahead of the trip to Arsenal on Boxing Day.
“As a manager, to have players who then go into management and do well is a great thrill.
“Mikel was always someone who has had a really good career. He has worked under Arsene Wenger as well who would have given him a great idea of how things work at Arsenal.
“He has worked under Pep Guardiola, who arguably could be the best manager certainly in this period, so he has certainly picked up great advice from those managers.
“But look, he was a clever boy as well and he has stuck at it when things were a bit difficult and people might have been on his back.
“They have ended up coming through it – and quite often managers need that time to come through it.”
Moyes told a press conference: “Arsenal were getting criticised so much I found it hard to believe. I thought they were building a good team.
“I could see (Emile) Smith Rowe, (Bukayo) Saka and (Gabriel) Martinelli coming through and I am starting to think ‘my goodness, people aren’t seeing this right here’.
“They looked a really good team in the making and I think that’s what they are now.”
West Ham will be looking to kickstart their Premier League campaign following the six-week break for the World Cup.
“We have got a really good team, but have not shown it as much as we should have at the moment,” said Moyes, whose side lost their previous three league games.
“We have to play better, but there are signs there. We have to score more goals, and create more as well. They are the things which are standing out for us.
“I have got a lot of belief in the boys we have brought in. We have got a strong squad and a European competition to come in March, which we are getting ready to prepare for.
“But the big thing at the moment is to get a good run in the Premier League and hopefully another good run in the FA Cup as well if we can.”