Aston Villa have confirmed the appointment of Liverpool legend and Rangers boss Steven Gerrard as Dean Smith’s replacement – and he has already expressed his admiration for Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal.
During the Gunners’ Europa League campaign of 2020-21, a trip to the Czech Republic to face Slavia Prague was on the cards.
It came in the wake of Prague defender Ondrej Kudela receiving a 10-game ban for racially abusing Rangers defender Glen Kamara, with the Gunners taking a knee in front of their opponents ahead of kick-off.
Arsenal would go on to win the second-leg tie 4-0 and advance to the semi-finals.
Arteta later revealed in an interview with Sky Sports News that the idea came from the players, who wanted to make a statement and show solidarity with Kamara.
“They came to me. They showed that initiative, that they wanted to make that statement and that they had an opportunity to send a message and I fully supported it,” he said.
“I spoke to the club, the club was really supportive and they did it.”
But Arteta was not the only manager who was impressed with the performance of Arsenal in Prague.
In his Rangers press conference the day after the clash, Gerrard was not reserved in his praise for the Gunners; both for how they behaved before the match and the level of performance on display.
“I admired how they approached it before the game, during the game and after the game,” Gerrard said.
“I’m sure Glen did as well. But I was really proud watching Arsenal’s performance last night. Everything about it.
“I thought the way they prepared for the game, the way the manager spoke, the way the players behaved before, during and after, and then to back it up with that level of performance.
“I sat there and really enjoyed that game. I thought it was a sensational performance.”
Gerrard will welcome Arsenal to Villa Park in March, by which point Arteta will hope to see his side still competing for a top-four place.