The centre-back was named man of the match during the win against Manchester United on New Year’s Day
Mikel Arteta has hailed the influence of David Luiz – saying the experienced centre-back has taken a big step forward in recent weeks.
Since making the move across London from Chelsea in the summer, Luiz has struggled to make a major impact at Emirates Stadium.
Operating in a defence that had consistently been shipping goals, the 32-year-old has not brought the stability at the back that many had hoped he would following his switch from Stamford Bridge.
But Arteta’s arrival before Christmas has sparked an upturn in form from the Brazil international.
He has started all four games under the Spaniard, helping the Gunners to two clean sheets. He was also named man of the match during the 2-0 win against Manchester United on New Year’s Day.
And ahead of Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace, Arteta has praised Luiz while revealing that he spoke to the experienced defender when he first arrived and called on him to become a real leader within the changing room.
“That’s what I wanted to demand of him,” said Arsenal’s head coach. “He is a player that has won more trophies than anybody else in that dressing room. We have to use that in a very powerful way.
“I wanted him to step up, I wanted him to put all his qualities – his personality and his experience – towards the team and he has made a big step forward. I am very very pleased with him.
“In the games he has played under me so far he has been terrific. His attitude in training, the way he communicates with his team-mates, his desire to still learn, it’s superb. I am delighted with him.”
Arsenal have conceded just three goals during Arteta’s first four games in charge – with two of those coming in the final 10 minutes of the defeat against Chelsea.
There has undoubtedly been an improvement at the back, with the Gunners heading to Selhurst Park this weekend on the back of two successive clean sheets.
Improving things defensively was always going to be Arteta’s biggest challenge when he first arrived and the Spaniard has been working directly with all of his defenders to try and bring about an improvement, rather than letting his coaching staff try and put across his methods.
He said: “I have to share my principals and what I expect from them in every situation on the pitch, which might be a bit a little bit different from what they do with other managers, but positionally they have to understand what I expect from them.”
When asked specifically what he had been working on, Arteta added: “Different types of drills, drills where they are facing the ball when the ball is far from them. Situations where they have to defend transitions when they are overloaded, when they are in equal numbers.
“When the ball is with the full-backs, what I expect from them. Where I want the line in relation to the ball, not just the opponent, a few things that for us are important.”
One of the major criticisms levelled at Arsenal in recent years has been over the amount of individual errors leading to goals.
Luiz has been viewed as one of the chief culprits this season, but the likes of Grant Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi have also been singled out in recent years.
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Arteta admits he was well aware of the problem before he arrived and has been working to solve it from the moment he walked through the door.
“For me the most helpful thing for that is communication,” said the 37-year-old. “If you are constantly communicating with your team-mates around you it makes you stay focused on what is happening all the time.
“If you don’t talk to each other there are always moments or gaps when your focus can go and the back four can’t have those moments.”