Fabio Vieira shows Mikel Arteta will soon face Pep Guardiola conundrum at Arsenal

Arsenal’s summer signing Fabio Vieira gave an early glimpse of his quality as he scored his first goal for the club in their win over Brentford.

The Portuguese playmaker was signed from Porto in the summer, but has had to be patient for his first start. That came his way on Sunday after Martin Odegaard was ruled out late on. In the absence of the captain, Vieira was able to take up a central role in the Gunners’ attack and rifled home from 25 yards in west London.

Vieira is incredibly highly-rated despite not even being capped by his country yet. That said, his efforts in his homeland convinced the north Londoners to spend over £30m in the summer to sign him. Arteta is clearly impressed with how the 22-year-old has settled in.

He said: “I think he’s having a good progression. Obviously he missed the whole of pre-season due to injury, that was really unlucky. But we know his talent, the reasons why we signed him and what he can bring to the team. To do it against Brentford, at this ground, on his debut, is a different story. He showed again his character and his qualities.”

Arteta may bask in Vieira’s brilliance for now, but soon enough he will be wrestling with whether to keep the player in his starting XI or resign him to a role as a substitute. Odegaard, appointed the club captain this term, has commanded that role so far this season.

Emile Smith Rowe, another man who missed the game through injury, having struggled for fitness all season, is also looking to force his way into the XI having seen his minutes limited so far. Arteta has largely gone with an attacking quartet that sees Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka on the flanks.

Fabio Vieira staked his claim with a goalscoring performance at Brentford

Fabio Vieira staked his claim with a goalscoring performance at Brentford

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Summer recruit Gabriel Jesus has led the line with Odegaard in support as the No 10. That has left the likes of Vieira, Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah all sat on the bench. Arsenal are winning games, six out of seven to be exact, which suggests their line-up and system is working.

But Arteta knows full well how winning and changing personnel can go hand in hand, having been No 2 to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. The Catalan is currently rotating the likes of Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish in a variety of attacking roles.

When Arteta was his assistant, the likes of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane were also pushing for starts, which meant regular changes to the starting XI on the blue half of Manchester. That was necessary as Guardiola aimed to keep the squad united and happy – as opposed to creating a divide between those who started and those who didn’t.

Emile Smith Rowe is also wanting more minutes with captain Martin Odegaard a regular so far

Emile Smith Rowe is also wanting more minutes with captain Martin Odegaard a regular so far

The City boss has said previously: “To handle the guys who are not selected, so that you are able to have the group as a unit. So if you handle the guys who don’t play you will be happy in your job. If it is a mess or there is turmoil in the dressing room, there’s nothing you can do.”

Arteta commented on the flexibility offered by Vieira, whose display at Brentford certainly warranted him retaining his starting role. The Arsenal boss is still mulling over his best role but was impressed with him playing centrally.

He claimed: “That’s something that still needs to be decided. In those two attacking midfield positions, for sure. He’s played off the side as well, so it’s more about the relations he has in the unit and on his side, and where he is more comfortable. But the position he played today fits him really well.”

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