The Liverpool forward, a transfer target for the Gunners over the summer, has returned from suspension in blistering form and the Spaniard has sympathy for his situation
Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta admits it is “a pity” for his side that Liverpool striker Luis Suarez did not move to the Emirates Stadium last summer.
The Uruguayan was the subject of repeated bids from the Gunners but the Reds blocked the move and he has since scored six goals in five games, with Arsene Wenger’s men his next opponents.
And Spaniard Arteta has expressed his regret that Arsenal could not land Suarez’s signature, suggesting that he is a “really good lad” deep down.
“It’s a pity Arsenal could not get Suarez,” Arteta told The Sun. “People don’t know the real Luis.
“He’s a really good lad. I know Suarez really well. He used to live in the next house to me and, whenever I’ve met him, he’s always been really nice.
Arteta also praised the “character” shown by the Liverpool forward to return with such devastating effect after his lengthy suspension.
“He is a tremendous player and he has shown a lot of character to get back after getting criticised and on the front pages a lot,” Arteta told the Daily Mirror. “He has gone on to produce some great performances and his goalscoring record is amazing.
“It was very difficult for him because he had a lot of people against him and he was under massive pressure.
“Last summer, when everyone thought he was leaving, he still came back and put in some great performances. I like players like this. When they are on the floor and everyone is on them they stand up and prove themselves and I admire that.”
Suarez missed months of action during his 10-game ban, incurred for biting the arm of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, but Arteta sympathises with the forward after extensive criticism for his actions.
“I’ve seen a lot of things in my career, not only in matches but on the training ground against your own team-mates,” the Spaniard added. “Everyone can lose it.
“I lost it once against Morten Gamst Pedersen. I poked his eye. Afterwards, I was like: ‘What are you doing? This is stupid!’ but you get upset, you get frustrated and you do some stuff. It’s not right.
“He accepted it, he apologised and I think he did everything he had to do to try to learn from it in order to not do it again. Sometimes you do silly things in life. What you want to do is learn and not make them again.”
After a tough summer on the transfer market, including their failed pursuit of Suarez, some pundits had backed Arsenal for a season of struggle but Arteta rejects the notion that such talk allowed the table-toppers to relax into their fine early form.
“I wouldn’t say the lack of expectation on us took the pressure off,” he remarked. “We had so much pressure. After [losing to Aston Villa on opening day] we were under massive pressure.
“The crowd were getting into us. They weren’t happy with the results, they weren’t happy with the lack of signings and so the whole club was in a difficult position. To turn that around is a credit to the lads, the board and the manager because he didn’t hurry to make any decision just to take the pressure off his shoulders.”