You don’t need to look to closely to see the massive weight that’s left the shoulders of Mikel Arteta following Arsenal’s controlling 3-1 defeat of Chelsea on Saturday.
While his counterpart fumed at “lazy” players, Arteta hailed the heart and effort of his Gunners in snapping a seven-match winless run in the Premier League.
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“This is a really special day,” Arteta said after the game on NBC. “It doesn’t get better than Boxing Day, a London Derby at the Emirates, and the way we’ve done it. Hopefully this is a turning point that’s going to elevate the confidence of the team. I know we can play at this level. It’s how consistent we are throughout the game to maintain this level. Chelsea, we know how good they are but in big moments we were the better team.”
Arteta said mentality was key in overcoming the negativity that’s been haunting the Gunners.
Much of that was self-inflicted — cough, seven red cards in a calendar year, cough — but credit to Arsenal for focusing on the work when fortune didn’t favor the club.
“We just had to see everything that is going against us. Playing with 10 men for so many times, the COVID, how unlucky we’ve been, you start to think, ‘Wow, what do we need to win a football match?’ Today when we conceded the penalty I was thinking, ‘This is not possible.’ So relief. Happy to give something back to our fans.”
Arsenal did the thing with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the bench and three regular contributors missing due to COVID-19 protocols.
Willian, David Luiz, and Gabriel Magalhaes all missed out, and Thomas Partey is still waiting for a return to full fitness.
“He hasn’t started to train with us yet so I think he’s still a few more days away.”
Trips to Brighton and West Brom are next. Can the Gunners handle business as expected and move back into European consideration? That would make for a happy Mikel Arteta.