Thomas Vermaelen believes Mikel Arteta's weekend winner against Manchester City was just reward for the Spaniard's exploits both on and off the field since joining Arsenal last summer.
Arteta moved to the Emirates Stadium from Everton on deadline day in August, and was faced with the seemingly daunting prospect of replacing former club captain Cesc Fabregas in the heart of the Gunners midfield.
But Arteta is well accustomed to the rigours of the English game, having spent six years at Goodison Park, and soon established himself as a vital cog in Arsene Wenger's first-choice XI.
Sunday's stunning strike against City may have been the 30-year-old's eighth goal of the season - an impressive haul - but undoubtedly represented the pinnacle of his Arsenal career so far.
But Arsenal have not only felt the benefit of Arteta's experiences on the field, yet they have been boosted by his knowledge in the dressing room.
And this, says Vermaelen, marks Arteta as one of the most important players in an ever-improving Arsenal squad.
"He has been really important for us," he told Arsenal.com. "He is not only important on the pitch but off the pitch as well. He talks a lot, he's an experienced player.
"He is really important in midfield because often you win and lose games in midfield."
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