Everton boss delighted at Arteta display

The 28-year-old has struggled to regain his best form since suffering a knee injury in 2009, but is now returning to his best form.

“Mikel’s form’s been a worry because we swam the channel to try and keep him last summer,” he told the Liverpool Echo.

“I wanted the chairman to keep him because I thought he was an integral part of the team so there was a lot riding on it – keeping Mikel, Marouane Fellaini and having Jack Rodwell.

“I felt as if we had midfield players who were amongst the best in the division and I still think that.

“But obviously Mikel’s form has not been as good as we thought it would be. I think there have been glimmers and signs in the last few weeks that he’s gaining a little bit of confidence.

“I thought he did well (against Sunderland). He made the second goal with a bit more like what we’ve seen from him.

“People said they think he’s played safe. I don’t. I think he’s kept the ball for us. People talk about Iniesta with 95 passes and something like 94 were accurate.

“You have to keep the ball and Mikel can keep the ball for us. He’s very comfortable on it.”