Arteta: ‘Derby win as good as it gets’

Arsenal boss’s joy as run of victories goes on

Thursday, 30th September 2021 — By Steve Barnett

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ARSENAL boss Mikel Arteta summed up Sunday’s victory over Spurs with five simple words: “As good as it gets.”

A raucous crowd at the Emirates sang his name in unison after Arsenal trounced their north London rivals 3-1 to seal their third Premier League win on the bounce.

But even in his fledgling career as a manager Arteta knows it won’t last. Lose to a well-organised Brighton & Hove Albion side at the Amex Stadium on Saturday and any momentum Arsenal have gained in September will quickly fade.

“That is the beauty of this game and the danger of this game as well – that things change so quickly at both ends and you always have to be alert and try to seek improvement and do better, which I believe we can still do,” acknowledged Arteta.

The soaring Seagulls will no doubt prove a tougher test than Tottenham. They’ve lost just one game so far this season, and go into this weekend only a point behind league leaders Liverpool.

But Arsenal are becoming “a super-efficient” side, too. And Arteta pulled enough positives from what he saw against Spurs to be able to travel to the south coast brimming with confidence.

He added: “I think we all agree that we saw a team that convinced from the beginning, with good energy and high rhythm, with a lot of quality, great cohesion and understanding of what we wanted to do with and without the ball. We were super-efficient. That is something we have been lacking in the final third: the right pass, the shot to hit the target more, and I think we did that all really well in the first half.”

A key factor to maintaining Arsenal’s resurgence will be how Arteta handles the setbacks. He brought Granit Xhaka straight back into the fold on Sunday following suspension, insisting that turning to experience was “the right call”.

But the Switzerland international hobbled off late on and has now been ruled out for up to three months after suffering a serious knee injury.

That means Arteta is likely to once again turn to youngster Albert Sambi Lokonga to shore up the Gunners’ midfield.

The 21-year-old, who joined from Anderlecht in a £17m deal in July, has faced a baptism of fire.

He impressed when covering for the injured Thomas Partey, and stepped in when Xhaka was suspended.

Reflecting on life in English football following Arsenal’s recent win at Burnley, Sambi said: “It was a crazy game!

“They cross from everywhere and I was not used to it. People told me, ‘You’re going to see this is the real Premier League, typical English way to play.’

“I was not expecting this kind of play.”

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