Fabio Vieira fires to prove Arsenal’s worth at Europa League start after injury delays dampen hype

Arsenal scoured the market for a versatile attacking midfielder over the summer and, after scouting Vieira, the club agreed a £34m deal to sign him from Porto.

A foot injury delayed his debut, with the 22-year-old coming off the bench against Manchester United last Sunday to finally make his debut.

But now here in Zurich, as Arsenal kick off their Europa League campaign tonight, Vieira is ready to make his first start for the Gunners and show why Arteta is so excited about his potential.

“We were looking for players who could play in three front row positions and in the attacking midfield positions,” Arteta said. “We were looking in the market for very specific qualities, and when I saw it, I really liked what I saw.

“From the start, I was so convinced that he was a player who was going to take us to the next level and that he had the right personality and the right character to play for our club.

Fabio Vieira is set to make his first start at Arsenal against FC Zurich in the Europa League

/ Arsenal F.C. via Getty Images

“It’s a shame because we detected an injury while we were doing the medical and he didn’t have a pre-season and everything was delayed. But, I hope you will see him a lot more in the next few days. weeks, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Vieira’s versatility makes it difficult to predict where he will play tonight. He’s usually positioned on the right or as a No.10, but he has the ability to operate deeper into the No.8 role that Granit Xhaka has thrived in this season.

The suspicion is that Vieira will be bloodied in the squad on the right, where Arteta has asked the U21 team to play him on the road to recovery. Playing wide will give Vieira more space and slowly introduce him to the heightened physicality of the English game, which would feel even more in central midfield.

Starting him on the right would allow Arteta to rest Bukayo Saka in the Europa League, with the English youngster having played more Premier League minutes than any other player at the club since the start of the 2019-20 season.

The only benefit of Vieira’s late introduction is that it eased the pressure on him. Usually players signed for £34million would be subject to hype and scrutiny at the start of the season, but he was allowed to fly under the radar.

It should end tonight, however, with Arteta ready to start it here. Arteta is expected to name a strong squad, partly because Cedric, Emile Smith Rowe, Mohamed Elneny, Reiss Nelson and Thomas Partey are all injured.

The only benefit of Vieira’s late introduction is that it eased the pressure on him

Arsenal, however, haven’t won a European competition since 1994 either, and that’s also the root of Arteta’s hunger to get strong.

“It’s a long time and I would like to be the first to break this negative record,” Arteta said. “You have to start somewhere – and that’s tonight. We have to start well and earn the right to win the game.

There’s also the added bonus that the Europa League group winners receive a bye after the last 32 and advance directly to the knockout stages. In a busy season, two games less next year, when the campaign returns after the World Cup, could be the most beneficial.

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