The centre back was outstanding in the FA Cup win against Newcastle United on the weekend.
"He is fantastic," Arteta said. "He is one of the leaders in the dressing room. He is one of the most experienced players, he has won everything in the game.
"He is so good with the young kids. When you look at people who can help and be a role model, he is always with them, he is always supporting them, giving them confidence and advice. It is great to have someone like him around.
"David had a really difficult season because he had three different things that have kept him away from training and games, which is unusual for him because normally he is always available. He had to deal with that.
"Then he had to play the other day [against Newcastle] after a two, two-and-a-half week period [out] - and he had to play 120 minutes! I think he was exceptional.
"Just the way he handled the game against a difficult No 9 like Andy Carroll and to play for 120 minutes as well at his age, without much training, was a real test and I really liked what he did."