Mikel Arteta has warned Arsenal not to underestimate “very dangerous” London rivals West Ham.
The Premier League leaders continue their season with a derby in the Emirates on Boxing Day.
Arsenal are currently five points clear of champions Manchester City but Arteta will face his old manager David Moyes on Monday night and knows last season’s Europa League semi-finalists can cause plenty of trouble.
He said: “(West Ham are) very dangerous because I know for sure David has worked the team really, really hard.
“Since taking over, he has absolutely maximized the potential of this team and taken the team to another level.
“I’m sure they’ve worked really hard during this time, as have we all, and I’m sure it’s going to be a very difficult competition.”
Arteta has worked in England for almost two decades and it was under Moyes at Everton that the Spaniard began his love affair with that country.
Arteta played seven seasons under the Scot at Goodison Park and detailed the impact of his experience under Moyes ahead of Monday’s clash.
“Each manager gives you some marks and some moments that solidify the beliefs you have about what you want to do. David certainly had a lot of weight on that,” Arteta explained.
“He’s been a huge influence, so grateful first of all for the trust he’s shown in me and how much I’ve learned from him on and off the field about building a team, about how to have the right characters found in the team to build what you want to be.
“He’s been very supportive of everything we’ve done together. I had incredible memories with him because we had a very successful time.”
After a two-year stint at Rangers, Arteta moved to Merseyside in 2005 – via Real Sociedad – and this week recalled the time Moyes wanted to play him as a winger.
The ex-midfielder recalled taking some convincing from the veteran boss to play on the flank in the early days at Everton.
Arteta added: “He believed I could have an impact on the team. I had real doubts and he made me believe I could do it.
“I was always played as a defensive midfielder or attacking midfielder and he let me play as a winger.
“I had to get used to a different style. With David we played a very direct game in the early years, it was exactly the opposite of what I was told since I was 15 years old.
“I basically had to adapt or die. It was very challenging but I think it was really rich for my own education and development as a player.”