Mikel Arteta went from public enemy No.1 in the eyes of Arsenal fans to being the saviour of the football club.
The 41-year-old takes his title-challenging Gunners side to former employers Everton this weekend looking to end their Goodison Park curse.
Arteta takes his Arsenal squad to former stomping ground Goodison Park this weekendGetty
He knows all about the fixture, having been sent off against the Gunners 16 years ago
GettyThe Spaniard was shown a straight red card for an elbow on Cesc Fabregas[/caption]
And he knows his players must keep a cool head against Everton having been sent off in the fixture himself.
Arsenal haven’t beaten the Toffees away in their last five outings in Merseyside – losing on four occasions.
Fans can always expect fireworks whenever the two clubs meet with the teams in the top two for most red cards in Premier League history.
No one knows about the fixture better than Arteta, who retired at Arsenal after joining from Everton in 2011, before taking charge of the Emirates outfit in 2019.
But in December 2007, he wasn’t in Arsenal fans’ good books when shown a straight red card for an elbow on Cesc Fabregas.
With the hosts trailing 3-1 in the 84th minute, Arteta was given his marching orders after striking his Spanish compatriot.
Fabregas instantly hit the deck holding his jaw, where he rolled around on the turf – leading both sets of players to square up to each other.
Cries of ‘cheat, cheat’ rang around Goodison Park, with Arteta lamenting the ‘crazy’ and ‘s***’ decision to send him off.
Referee Atkinson wasted no time in dismissing Arteta – much to his anger
Both sets of players threatened to come to blows following the incident
He said in his post-match interview: “I was shielding the ball like I always do. I can’t remember any game I haven’t done that before. It was crazy.
“After a split second he just saw the guy on the floor and thought ‘OK, I’ll make a decision because I made one 10 minutes before and sent someone off [Nicklas Bendtner]. It think it was unbelievable.”
Arteta added: “[Mathieu] Flamini put the elbow in three times. Twice to Lee Carsley and once to Tim Cahill and really badly and the referee didn’t make a decision.
“I’m not blaming Flamini, but that decision (not to punish him) made the decision against me all the worse.
“I don’t want to talk about referees generally, but this referee on his occasion has made a s*** decision.
“I don’t know if I’d have still got sent off (if Fabregas hadn’t reacted). Is it still a penalty if somebody doesn’t dive?”
As for then-Everton boss David Moyes, he quipped he had thought Fabregas had suffered serious facial injuries as result of the foul.
He remarked: “Fabregas obviously has a broken jaw or he would not have rolled around like he did.”
Arteta and Moyes complained that Fabregas’ reaction led to his sending off
But there was no sympathy from Fabregas towards his countryman, insisting the referee made the right call – despite the jibes aimed at him.
The 2010 World Cup winner insisted: “He is my friend but this is football. It just happened.
“Everyone can have their opinion, but the one thing I am sure about is that he put his elbow in my face and that is a red card.”
Arteta may have retired more than seven years ago, but he remains just as fiery in the dugout as he was on the pitch.
He has already been shown a yellow card twice this season due to his animated antics on the sidelines.
And with Arteta desperate to win at his former stomping ground, he must lead by example and keep his emotions intact.
Failure to do so, and his players may just lost their head – just like their mentor 16 years ago.