• Julian Taylor at the London Stadium

Arteta delighted as Gunners fire 'massive' Champions League message at West Ham



Mikel Arteta was delighted with Arsenal’s ‘phenomenal’ resilience as his side kept their composure to earn an impressive 2-1 victory at West Ham United.


If the Gunners hardly convinced in terms of fluency, they still profited in the capital derby, leaving them in fourth place, a couple of points ahead of rivals Tottenham Hotspur with just four games of the season remaining.


Two headed goals – one in each half - by Rob Holding and Gabriel, respectively, kept the north Londoners in the box seat for the much-coveted Champions League berth for next season. And while Jarrod Bowen netted a fine equaliser for the Hammers on the stroke of half time, Arsenal saw out the affair with fatigued West Ham clearly feeling their Europa League exertions from last Thursday.


The Hammers travel to Eintracht Frankfurt for the second leg of their Euro semi final, trying to retrieve a 2-1 deficit – and for much of this afternoon at the London Stadium they lacked drive, particularly for the first forty minutes, when any sense of taut derby urgency was non-existent.


West Ham’s paucity made Arsenal’s defensive job that much easier, on a day when the outcome was, essentially, more significant for the Gunners.


“It was massive win in very difficult circumstances,” said Arteta.


Character


“The team showed huge character and not giving up, doing the right things and managing the game in the right moments. It was phenomenal. In England you say you ‘win ugly’ and I’m delighted to see that the team showed that character today.”

The Arsenal manager also paid tribute to central defensive pair and match winners from set pieces, Holding and Gabriel, as they resisted the Hammers’ attempts to find their way back in the game across the latter stages.


“He (Gabriel) has grown so much as a character, “Arteta added. “His English is better and he is presenting himself better and is in a more consistent role the season.


“(Holding) To play here against this team is not easy at all and to win here I am delighted. He is a phenomenal player and person to have around.


“We have to continue our form. The level is extraordinary and we have to learn consistency to reach those high levels.”


Arsenal can now conceivably overtake Chelsea – who lost earlier in the day at Everton - to earn third place by the end of the campaign, and a first Champions League qualification since 2016. For West Ham boss David Moyes, meanwhile, it was a disappointing day as he must now rally his players for Thursday’s showdown in Frankfurt.


“It was always going to be a difficult game because Arsenal are a good team,” said a realistic Moyes. “I think we limited them and kept them really quiet. What we didn’t do was a job on set pieces.


Lacking


“I think we’ve been very good on them for scoring. We had a lot of possession and restricted Arsenal in terms of opportunities but we lacked height and that cost us today.”


The Hammers boss was also magnanimous, lauding the improvements at the red half of north London while simultaneously looking ahead to the upcoming German assignment.


“Arsenal’s improvement this year has been incredible,” the Scot added. “Not being involved in Europe has really helped them after a slow start. Last year they were in the semi final of the Europa League, us this year and it probably affected them.


“I’m not thinking about Thursday at the moment - until tomorrow once I’ve tidied this up. Let’s hope we can get that little bit that has been going against us recently to go for us.”