Arteta: Mood feels better around the Emirates
Mike Arteta said the mood around the Emirates Stadium has lifted and insists his team are in good shape ahead of Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur.
The Gunners brushed aside AFC Wimbledon 3-0 in N5 on Wednesday evening thanks to a penalty from stand-in captain Alexandre Lacazette, plus second-half strikes from Emile Smith-Rowe and a wonderful flick from the impressive Eddie Nketiah.
Speaking after the game the Arsenal boss said: “The mood feels better – that’s what winning does – it brings that connection between the fans and the team.
“The fans have always been with the team and now I expect us to be at an even higher level on Sunday.”
The win was the Gunners’ third on the bounce after a disappointing start – and they have also not conceded a goal in that time.
Arteta made 10 changes from the team which beat Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday, but was still able to field a strong line-up, with some eyebrows raised that Thomas Partey was risked following a string of injury scares of late.
Arteta said: “Partey hasn’t played a lot lately so I think he needed to play today. We didn’t think it was a risk and believed it was the right thing to do. He was keen so we did it.
“The competition for places is very important – it brings the best out of you in difficult moments and now the boys have managed to win three games in a row.
“We’re looking forward to Sunday because it is the biggest game of the season for us so far.
“When it was 1-0 (Wimbledon) still believed. It was a tough game.
“The approach is to win every game and that has to be the aim of this game. It was special to see 50,000 fans here for this game and the players notice that.”
The boss also praised Nketiah, who was bright from the start and involved in most of the good points for the Gunners on the night. Arteta added: “Eddie gives us a lesson every day of how a professional should do his job.
“He trains harder than anybody else and he looks after himself and he supports his team-mates. So I am so delighted for him.”
Dons boss Mark Robinson said he was pleased that his team showed their possession-based philosophy but admitted the occasion may have got the better of them early on.
Answering a question about whether his team had been overwhelmed on the night, Robinson said: “Possibly. It was a disappointing goal to give away (at the start) but after that we recovered really well.
“There didn’t look such a difference between the two teams, but our crossing was poor and I don’t think we tested them enough.
“It was important that we came here and tried to be what we are – a possession-based side. It was key we came here and tried to be a version of ourselves and I think we did that.
“We didn’t carry enough threat but that is the difference between the levels. But we have a base now to work from and we can see what we did well and what we need to do better.”