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  • By Charlie Stong at Emirates Stadium

Arteta praises young star Smith Rowe after Gunners dispatch Aston Villa

Mikel Arteta was full of praise for his young Arsenal team who responded to Monday’s disappointing draw with Crystal Palace by dispatching Aston Villa 3-1 at the Emirates last night.

The Gunners’ blushes were saved thanks to a last-ditch equaliser by Alexandre Lacazette against the Eagles, but they were faster, slicker and more clinical in their win over the Villans.

Lacazette’s reward was a place in the starting line-up, and his energy, together with that of stand-in left-back Nuno Tavares and the artistry of Emile Smith Rowe, was too much for Villa.

Asked if the performance was a vision of how he wants his team to play, Arteta said: “Yeah very close to it. What I like the most is the way the team reacted on Monday evening, how we finished the game and how they were in the dressing room. Accepting that it wasn’t good enough.

“We are the youngest team in the league, but this is not an excuse. We cannot change the age so we cannot find these kind of excuses.

“We have to find why those sort of things happen in the games and find the right solutions and then put them right. We have to believe we can play at that level because they can.”

Smith Rowe scored the goal which effectively made the game safe at 3-0, but was at the heart of most Gunners attacks, and Arteta was delighted with the youngster’s performance.

He said: “Emile was terrific. He’s scoring goals, which is something we demand he does because he’s capable of doing it. I think it’s about the whole team today.

“I think it (the man of the match award) could have gone for anybody. I think individually they were all terrific. If you ask about Thomas, about Sambi, about Nuno as well about the central defenders, anybody.

“I’m happy he’s developing and he still needs to develop more. I think tonight as well. The other night he wasn’t 100 per cent fit and he stepped forward and Emile wanted to play with a difficult injury that he had.

“He’s still playing, he’s looking forward, he’s really determined. He’s changed the way he’s living a bit and some habits that he had. He was superb.”

The Gunners fans stayed with the team after Monday’s disappointment and the boss was thankful for their support in saying: “I think the chemistry is there. I think the connection is getting stronger and stronger.

“I think that they are both enjoying what they have to do. They are part of our team. They are a big part of our team. When there are moments where the stadium lifts our energy lifts, our belief, our confidence. I think they were terrific tonight.


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