Arteta feeling his way back to fitness

Arteta, 27, is looking to retain his place in the side against

Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League on Wednesday at Goodison Park.

The Spaniard made his first start in almost a year last week in the

superb victory over Chelsea. He is likely to be called on again in

the first leg of the round of 32 as Marouane Fellaini is recovering

from an ankle injury. Arteta said: “When I returned it felt like I

had never played in my life. I had to get prepared for the game at

home and think about the way I had to eat and rest. “Then I would

come here to pick up my shin pads and boots…the pace of the game,

it was awkward. “I am trying all I can but I was planning to have

more weeks training with the lads. However with Fellaini’s injury

we’ve had to rush it a bit. “It is going to take a while to get to

my best but with the passion I have for every game hopefully that

will compensate a bit.” Arteta is relieved to be on the mend after

the injury took longer to heal than anticipated and believes

Everton are one of the teams to fear in the competition. He said:

“I was worried as I had a couple of setbacks. It was really hard

for me. But in a way I was lucky. We had some other injured players

and we tried to help each other by giving advice. “I have missed

matches for a year so you can imagine how excited I am now. The

pressure is on myself but obviously it helps that the team is

winning. “Tomorrow is a special game as this is the only way we can

get a trophy this year and that is something we are desperate to

do. We have the potential and the players. “We have good experience

at this level the last few years. Looking at the other teams we can

compete with them.” As well as Fellaini, manager David Moyes will

also be without John Heitinga as he is ineligible. Philippe

Senderos is doubtful with a back problem but Steven Pienaar returns

to the squad following a domestic suspension. Everton go into the

match on a good run of form after just two defeats in 11 games in

all competitions. Sporting, in contrast, are in the middle of a dip

after winning their group ahead of Hertha Berlin. Moyes is anxious

to get the better of their opponents after losing 5-0 and 2-0 to

Sporting’s city neighbours Benfica earlier in the campaign. He

said: “We did enough to get through in the earlier stages and we

are a lot stronger now. We are on top of the ground and hopefully

we will continue that way. “We would have liked the second leg to

be at home. But the first leg is here and we have to try and make

it difficult for Sporting. “It has changed a little bit for us. We

are in a good moment, Sporting are not. “But we will not

underestimate them as they have been in the Champions League and

European competitions. There are similarities to Sporting and

Benfica. But I think Benfica are a more accomplished side.”