50 up - Arteta praises an "extraordinary" first half of the season for Arsenal
Mikel Arteta praised Arsenal’s “extraordinary” first half of the season after victory against Manchester United yesterday saw them rack up 50 points from their first 19 games.
The boss was also full of praise for striker Eddie Nketiah, who bagged two goals yesterday – including a last-minute winner in a pulsating encounter at the Emirates Stadium.
Speaking at the post-match press conference yesterday, Arteta said: “We have had an extraordinary first half of the season.
“We deserve the points that we have. I think we have played well enough to win most of the matches but there are still things we can get much better at – attacking and defending, in transitions, in set-pieces and that is the aim.
“The courage and the personality that the players showed today – the initiative. They do not look at each other and think ‘he is going to do it’, they take responsibility and I absolutely loved that today.”
The game looked to be heading for a 2-2 draw, but the Gunners dominated the last 20 minutes, and their persistence eventually paid off with Nketiah’s second.
Of the atmosphere at the end, Arteta said: “It doesn’t get much better than that. It was a beautiful moment because we were pushing and pushing at the end, then the goal came and VAR made it even more difficult, but it was electric, really emotional, really passionate and I loved it.
“Especially after coming back, winning the London derby away from home, playing a team that has very different way of playing. Going down against this team is very dangerous because you have to then attack in a way that they are going to punish you.
“So then we came back to lead 2-1 and it happened exactly what happened at Old Trafford. At 2-1 we were totally in control of the game and they scored.
“Then emotionally you need to have to understand what is needed. We then got better and better and better and we fully deserved to win the game.”
Nketiah’s brace yesterday means he is now Arsenal’s top scorer this season with nine goals – four in the Premier League.
Arteta added Leandro Trossard from Brighton to his attacking options in the week and he played a role in the lead-up to the winner yesterday.
But Arteta was full of praise for Nketiah, who is proving his doubters wrong of late. Arteta said: “He is incredible because of his mentality and qualities. Losing Gabby (Gabriel Jesus) was a big blow but Eddie and the team have responded in an exceptional way.
“The qualities he has, the belief he has and the desire he has to be Arsenal’s number nine. He is so loved, he has a real Arsenal heart and you cannot put that into numbers.”
“This win adds belief, confidence and shows that we are going in the right direction. I know where we are and where we want to be and we are still far from that.
“I don’t know what the number (of points to win the league) will be but it is going to be very high, that is for sure.”
Pictured top: Mikel Arteta (Picture: Charlie Stong)