Arteta expects good Everton reception

Mikel Arteta has claimed there is no reason for Everton fans to abuse him when he returns to Goodison Park next week, despite the manner of his departure to Arsenal.

A long ranged effort....

Mikel Arteta has claimed there is no reason for Everton fans to abuse him when he returns to Goodison Park next week, despite the manner of his departure to Arsenal.

Gunners midfielder Arteta ended six-and-a-half years as a Toffees player this season when he submitted a transfer request an hour before the August window closed.

The lateness of the move prevented Everton from reinvesting the £10million they got for their star player until the turn of the year, something that may not have gone down well with some supporters.

But Arteta hopes they will forgive and forget next Wednesday and focus instead on all he gave to the club while there.

He said: "I really can't wait to go there, and I hope I'll get a good reception because I gave Everton everything I had in my time there and I love the club.

"Everyone there was great to me and, even though I left, hopefully people understood.

"There's no reason for any of us to be unhappy with each other."

Arteta, 29, is relishing running out at Goodison again, but admitted it would be strange to do so for a rival club.

"Visiting Everton next week will be really special for me," he told Arsenal's official website, www.arsenal.com.

"It's going to be weird to sit in the other changing room, warming up in the opposite half of the pitch and having the crowd against us.

"I just want to enjoy it."

Next week's clash will see Arsenal try to make it six Barclays Premier League wins in a row as they close in on third-placed Tottenham.

Having been in danger of falling 13 points behind their arch-rivals during last month's north London derby, a reversal of fortunes for both clubs have cut the gap between them to a single point.

Overhauling Spurs could be crucial in convincing star striker Robin van Persie to sign a new contract amid reports Manchester City would be prepared to make him the country's highest-paid player.

Gunners chairman Peter Hill-Wood has claimed Van Persie and his family are "very happy in London" and that the Holland star is not "solely motivated by money".

Indeed, the key to avoiding Van Persie following Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri out of the club could be convincing him they are serious about signing reinforcements this summer.

Arsenal declined to comment on reports on Tuesday that staff travelled to Germany to give prospective £10.9 million signing Lukas Podolski a medical.

The 26-year-old Cologne striker is said to be on the verge of signing for the Gunners and will hope to link up with Van Persie next season.

Arsenal have also been linked with £30 million-rated Borussia Dortmund attacker Mario Gotze.

Hill-Wood said he was prepared to pay anything but "silly prices" for the "right" players.



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