Robert Pires is relishing the prospect of making his Aston Villa home debut against former club Arsenal at Villa Park this weekend after spending the last few months training with the Gunners.
Pires was handed his first taste of action in claret and blue as a 68th minute substitute in Sunday’s disappointing 2-0 Premier League defeat to Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
However, Saturday’s visit of Arsene Wenger’s title-chasers will have been the fixture Pires looked out for when he completed his surprise transfer to Villa last week.
Pires won two league championships and two FA Cups during his successful six-year spell at Arsenal from 2000 to 2006 and returned to his former club to keep fit during the summer.
“It will be strange seeing as I trained two months with them and played for several years there,” said Pires.
“But I will have to forget that over the 90 minutes, now I’m wearing new colours and I’m ready for my appointment next week with the Gunners.
“I’m really happy to get back into the Premier League, I missed it. I have the chance to play six months under Gerard Houllier’s orders. I’m impatient and want to play.”
Pires, at 37, has become Villa’s oldest outfield player and the French midfielder is happy to be the elder statesman passing on his experience to Gerard Houllier’s emerging youngsters.
“Gerard is expecting me to take the youngsters under my wing,” said Pires.
“You know that this Aston Villa team is very young and unfortunately there are a lot of injuries.
“So he’s expecting me to bring my experience and my know-how, especially from my time in the Premier League, and to give a helping hand.
“I don’t think there’ll be any concerns, particularly when you see how they played against Manchester United.
“It proves there’s a lot of quality, now we just need that bit of luck and experience, which I think I have.”
Rather than moving to the Midlands, Pires is permitted by Houllier to commute from his home in London in a chaffeur-driven car to Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground each day.
“There are players who do the journey by helicopter,” said Pires. “I’m lucky enough to do it by car with a chauffeur, but it doesn’t bother anyone here.
“This proves there is a really open mentality here and it doesn’t inconvenience me, either.
“Every morning I leave at 8am and by 9.30, or 9.45, I’m at the training ground and have time to get ready, to train and I have the best conditions possible,” he added.