Arsenal knew they had to put in a strong performance last night if they wanted to beat Leeds United – and in the end, that’s exactly what they did. The Gunners beat Leeds 4-2 in what turned out to be a pretty dramatic game of football, and while this isn’t the silver bullet that will solve all of the club’s problems, they did look far more confident going forward than they have done in a long time.
Mikel Arteta spoke to the media after one of the more exhilarating encounters of his tenure so far.
Yes, I thought he was superb today. He’s been training really well in the last week or so, he was back to normal, he looked really committed in training, really hungry. I think today he had a great performance, not only for the goals but for the way he worked without the ball as well. The amount of pressure he put on every Leeds defender and he set the tone for the team. I’m delighted for him, he deserves it.
On if he will now play through the middle:
We have the option. Depending on the game, on the opponent, depending on the areas we want to exploit and how we want to make the game easier for him. I thought that it could be a good option for him today and it worked well.
On Bukayo Saka:
He’s playing really well. He can still get much better. He’s got that room, he’s got the intelligence and he’s got the desire so his aim has to be to do better, to score more goals, be more efficient in the final third and there’s a lot of things he needs to do better defensively as well to improve day by day, because he’s got the ability.
On what an in-form Aubameyang will do for our season:
We know that a big part of our future success is related to Auba being at his best and scoring as many goals as possible. If he is in that kind of form we’re going to be closer to winning football matches, that’s clear. We can’t just rely on him but he’s a big piece of our parcel and you saw today again today, when he’s firing he’s a very difficult player to play against.
On the second half:
It was a great first half, to play the way we’ve done against this opponent. How difficult they make it, how organised they are, I think it was superb. At half time I told them that Leeds are a team who can bounce back and they’re not going to stop. They still believe in that dressing room that they can come here and beat us, that’s Leeds and that’s what the manager inspires in them. You see then in the second half, they came out of the blocks really quickly, we score the first one, we concede from the set piece, they found a bit of life and they threw everything at us. It’s true, they could have scored the second one, we could have scored three of four as well and it became a little bit of madness.
On how pleased he was with the team’s creativity:
I thought it was much better. We were much more efficient and we were much more composed. We took our time when it was needed, we faked movement, we had runs in behind and we had people in the box and people arriving into the box. Our decision-making was much better and then the efficiency when we were hitting the last shot, many of those were on target and that’s the difference when you want to score goals.
On whether he understands what constitutes a penalty nowadays:
I don’t know, I was looking on the TV and I thought that it was a clear penalty. And considering the penalties that have been given against us, I thought it was going to be a penalty and probably a red card because we’ve had the same decision against us. It wasn’t meant to be, so I don’t know. I think we need some clarification.
On how frustrating the lack of consistent refereeing is:
It is what it is. We cannot control it. They are trying to do their job in the best possible way. I understand that some decisions are really hard to judge, even when you have the TV right in front of you. I think what we all are saying is just ‘Okay, let’s be consistent’. If this is a handball here, then it has to be a handball here and it’s a penalty here. That’s all. Then we will accept the decisions.
On whether there’s a chance Thomas Partey or Kieran Tierney could be available this coming week:
It seems unlikely at the moment. But probably if there is one player who has got a bigger chance, it’s Kieran, because probably in the next few days he can start to do some parts with the team. But I don’t know how it is going to evolve when he gets a little bit closer to training with the group.
On the performance of Dani Ceballos:
I thought he was terrific, Dani. To play the way he has done against this type of man-marking team, where it’s really difficult to get on the ball and have some time and play with the quality that he had, then overall I think he had a really good game.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
Will this be the boost that Arsenal need?