Next Match:

Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Everton assistant boss Steve Round expects Mikel Arteta to be greeted with a warm reception at Goodison Park this evening.

The Spaniard is set to make his first appearance at the stadium since moving to Arsenal on transfer deadline day last August.

Arteta spent six-and-a-half years on Merseyside following a switch from homeland side Real Sociedad, racking up 209 appearances and 34 goals.

And Round believes Evertonians will show nothing but respect for the former fans' favourite.

"I would expect him to get a good reception," he said at Tuesday's pre-match press conference. "He was a big favourite here. I think the Everton fans are very knowledgeable and respectful towards senior and previous players that have played for the Club.

"He was a tremendous player for us. His attitude while he played for Everton was never in question and his ability was second to none. I think the Everton fans respect that and know it when they see it."

Round, however, says he and manager David Moyes will be urging Everton's players to hold off on the hospitality.

The assistant boss has been impressed by the manner in which Arteta has slotted in to Arsene Wenger's side and sees him as one of the primary threats in the Gunners' armoury.  

"He had big boots to fill when he went there as a sort of replacement for Cesc Fabregas, I guess," said Round. "But he's got the ability and the temperament to be able to handle that stage. He was at that stage of his career where that was the next step for him, and when he left, we wished him well.

"We do welcome him back but we'll be fighting hard to make sure he doesn't have an influence on the game."

Everton's recent home record boasts wins over Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham, while Arsenal are looking for a sixth successive Premier League triumph.

Round believes the ingredients are there for another Goodison Park classic but knows the Blues will need to be at their very best to add Arsene Wenger's men to their increasingly impressive list of victims.

"We've been in a really good run of form against the big teams of late, so we are looking forward to it," he said. "The lads have been good and they've trained well this week.

"It should be a cracking game. I think Arsenal are top of the league on current form, they've won five on the bounce in the Premier League. We've lost one in 11, including the cup games, so it should be a really good game and one that both teams will go out and try hard to win.

"It's going to be a tough game but we'll go out there and give it a good shot."

Tickets for tonight's game are still available. To secure yours, call 0871 663 1878 or click here .

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