Mikel Arteta has praised “incredible” Kieran Tierney and explained why he turned down the chance to manage Newcastle this summer.
Arteta was appointed Arsenal manager in December and has overseen tentative progress in north London; there are reasons for fans to be oddly cheerful.
It is the Spaniard’s first senior coach in management, having turned down a number of opportunities in the past. Newcastle approached Arteta with a view to replacing compatriot Rafael Benitez at the end of last season but he opted to stay as Manchester City assistant instead.
“I was considering a situation at Newcastle United that could change my professional and personal life,” he said on the eve of their meeting on Sunday.
“I had to put everything on the table to make that decision. I made the decision to stay where I was at the time.”
Arteta believes Newcastle made the right choice by bringing in Steve Bruce.
“I believe that Newcastle are happy,” he added. “What Steve has brought to the club has been really, really good.
“The performances and results, compared to where they were last year, they are above any expectation.
“He has put together a team with great spirit and is a manager with massive, massive experience.”
Arteta also discussed left-back Tierney, who has played just 11 times this season – and not at all under the new manager – due to separate hip and shoulder injuries.
The Scot has emerged as a surprise transfer target for Leicester and former Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers, but Arteta has “been really impressed” with the summer signing.
“He’s making very good progress but we need to wait for the bone and the attachment with the tendon to heal before we can make contact,” he said.
“He’s been training, his work ethic is incredible, I’ve been really impressed with him so hopefully we can get him soon but we need to be careful and a little bit patient with him as well.”