Mikel Arteta has insisted that Arsenal’s Premier League run-in will still be a “rollercoaster” journey, despite the crucial win over Manchester United.
The Gunners have clawed back the advantage in the Premier League top-four race with a crucial week. They started it looking to address an alarming slide of three defeats in a row.
And Arsenal have responded in style with two pivotal wins. The 4-2 win at Chelsea on Wednesday ended fears that the Gunners’ goal threat had dried up.
Meanwhile, Arteta’s side showed character and commitment to grind out a 3-1 win over United on Saturday. The match was full of controversy, but Arteta lauded his side’s display.
“A big performance in a game that had everything,” the Spaniard told BT Sport. “We had moments where we showed real quality and were a threat.
“We scored two goals, created chances, a game where we had to suffer and were a bit lost and lacking energy and they were on top.
“It was a game where we were really efficient in the boxes. We had luck when we needed it, which is really important.
“But overall, I’m extremely happy, it was a massive game for us and we enjoyed it.”
Nuno Tavares made it 1-0 with his first Arsenal goal, before Bukayo Saka made it 2-0 with a penalty. The spot-kick came after Eddie Nketiah thought he had increased the lead. The initial goal was ruled out for offside, but VAR spotted a foul in the build-up.
Cristiano Ronaldo pulled one back for Man Utd before half time, before Bruno Fernandes missed his own penalty to level the scores.
Granit Xhaka therefore stepped up and responded with a long-range strike to make it 3-1.
“You have to write the story of the game,” Arteta said. “If I said Granit would have scored from there, he probably wouldn’t have done it.
“But that’s the beauty of this game. It’s always tough, every time they have the ball in the final third something can happen. We’re happy to win again.”
Arteta dreamt of Xhaka moment
Xhaka has had a love-hate relationship with the Arsenal fans. He was booed off against Crystal Palace in 2019 and has a history of racking up red cards.
However, Arteta insisted that, below the surface, Xhaka wants the best for Arsenal and the fans – who he applauded after his goal.
“I was dreaming of that because he deserves it,” the manager said. If any fan would spend two minutes with Granit they would understand the person that he is and how much he loves the club.
“He opened up because he feels the environment is there to protect him. Thank you to the fans for that.”
Arteta could not give a definitive injury update on Saka, who came off in the second half after pointing to his thigh.
As for the top-four race, the manager promised a rollercoaster finish to the season, with the north London derby against Tottenham to come.
“This is what we wanted and I said this is going to be a rollercoaster. The fact that you can win and lose games in this league, it’s always small margins. Today, things went in our favour and we are really happy with that.”
Arsenal return to action against West Ham next Sunday.