Dani Ceballos returned to first-team action as Arsenal thrashed Newcastle United 4-0 at home on Sunday and Mikel Arteta has hailed the midfielder, labelling him the ‘best player’ on the day.
The Real Madrid loanee’s temporary stint in north-London has been blighted by injury but he stole the show in the middle of the park against the Magpies, a performance that has Arteta purring with delight.
Speaking to the media after the match (via Mirror), Arteta said:
“Dani Ceballos is a good example. 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.”
The 23-year-old was replaced by Lucas Torreira late on and received a raucous reception from the fans as he made his way to the dugout.
Recognising the support he received from the terraces, Ceballos took to Instagram in order to pay homage to the home support.
“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” he proclaimed.
“We keep fighting! Let’s go Gunners!”
Arsenal’s upturn in form sees them sit 10th in the Premier League standings, 7 points off 4th-placed Chelsea.
Europa League football also kick-starts again on Thursday for Arteta’s men, when they travel to Greece to face Olympiacos in the first leg of the competition’s Round of 32 stage.
The Gunners have fallen to roughly 15/2 in the Europa League title odds, which gives them a 12% chance to lift the trophy. The erstwhile favourite, Arsenal now finds itself trailing Inter Milan, Man United, Sevilla, and Ajax, though no team is shorter than about 6/1 (14.3% chance) in a wide-open tournament.
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Arteta will be hoping his Spanish compatriot is primed to construct in Europe as his side seek out a long-awaited continental trophy. There’s a long way to go yet, but Ceballos is a key component to Arsenal’s projected targets.
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