Mikel Arteta has praised Dani Ceballos’ performance in Sunday’s win over Newcastle while the midfielder was thrilled to play in the Premier League for the first time since November.
Ceballos’ future was up in the air during the January window, with rumours suggesting he wanted his loan with the Gunners terminated so he could return to La Liga and get more game time ahead of the Euros.
But he remained in north London and, after finally overcoming his injury issues, made his first Premier League appearance since a 1-1 draw with Wolves on November 2.
Arteta felt he wanted a more creative presence in his midfield to unlock Newcastle’s deep defence at the Emirates and was happy with Ceballos’ display in the 4-0 win, also praising his efforts in training to win back his place.
Asked if both Ceballos and Mesut Ozil being in the starting XI could become a regular occurrence, Arteta replied: ‘Depending how they are, how they train, how they perform.
‘But I thought Dani was ideal for that game, in that position, today. The way he has been training he completely deserves a chance and I’m so glad with his performance.’
In another interview with BBC Sport, he added: ‘He was injured and when he started to train I didn’t think he was fit enough. He completely changed his behaviour and trained like an animal. I thought he was the best player on the pitch.’
Ceballos missed over a month with a hamstring injury and then struggled to force his way into Arteta’s thinking after Unai Emery was sacked.
But he was thrilled to return to Premier League action, writing on social media after the game: ‘There’s only one thing better than being back in the team after a long-lasting injury: winning in the Emirates Stadium in front of our supporters!
‘We keep fighting! Let’s go Gunners!’
Arsenal’s thumping victory over Newcastle sees them move up to 10th place in the Premier League table, six points adrift of fifth place which could become a Champions League berth if Manchester City’s expulsion from the competition is upheld.
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