Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has hailed the character and quality of his young side, as they took another big step towards a top four finish.
The Gunners are grinding their way back towards the Premier League’s top table.
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Their 1-0 win at Aston Villa (their fifth-straight away win) on Saturday showcased just how much they’ve developed under Arteta and they never really looked in doubt of coughing up their first half lead.
Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Arteta was delighted his players set the tone early after the disappointment of their home defeat to Liverpool on Thursday.
Gunners boss delighted with progress
“We talked about it before the match that we had to be sharp, physical and very clever in what we wanted to do as we expected them to come at us in the first few minutes. We totally controlled it and we scored the first one but the shame was we didn’t score the second or third one. That is the difference and when you don’t do that you’re going to have to dig deep in the last few minutes,” Arteta said. “I am really pleased the spirit, the quality, the understanding of the game. How we competed in the every phase of the game, I am really proud of the boys.”
After losing in midweek to Liverpool to seemingly open the door for West Ham, Manchester United and Tottenham in the top four battle, Arteta was delighted his young side didn’t let that impact their display at Villa.
"This team is starting to be what Arsenal have wanted to be, and that's challenging the top of the league."
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) March 19, 2022
With less than 48 hours between the two games, the Arsenal boss loved everything about the way his team played.
“We had a lot of character, intelligence, courage quality. They transmit it. You see the connection they have with the fans. It is phenomenal to watch,” Arteta added.
Bullish on top four dreams
With 10 games of the season to go Arsenal sit in fourth in the table and have a four-point gap and a game in-hand over fifth-place Manchester United.
They still have to play Chelsea, Tottenham and West Ham away, plus Manchester United at home, but this young Arsenal side look ready to take on the business end of the season with no fear.
“We are there. 10 games to go. We are there. We have this feeling that we really want it and I think you can really sense it,” Arteta smiled. “We are going to give it a go until the end.”
You get the sense that two-and-a-half years into his reign at Arsenal, this is exactly the type of team Arteta wanted to create. Full of quality and character and now they have they key ingredient: durability.