Arsenal will miss ‘special’ Ozil – Arteta
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, as expected, had no complaints on Monday night after seeing his side ease to a comfortable win over Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium.
The 3-0 win extended the Gunners’ unbeaten run in the Premier League to five matches as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka scored second-half goals.
“Yes I am really pleased with the performance overall because collectively and individually it was really strong from the beginning,” Arteta told reporters during his post-match interview.
“It took us longer than we wanted to score the first goal because in the first half we had some big chances as well, but overall the team looked confident, looked solid, looked compact and very clear about what we had to do, defending and attacking, so I am really pleased with the clean sheet, the goals, and overall the run and the momentum we have.”
Arsenal were kept at bay by a very defensive Newcastle in a goalless first half, and Arteta said his side’s patience was key in unlocking the door of goals after the break.
“It is part of understanding these types of games, and when the team is able to come out of these games with this result and confidence, it helps a lot for the next one because they know that the moment is going to come, that we cannot lose our structure, our organisation,” the Spaniard said.
“Of course there were things, that at half time, we had to improve and do better, to be more consistent, quicker, more efficient in certain moments to attack. This is great information for us and for them it is great to believe against these structures we can outplay them, we can nullify them to do very little in our own box and we can come out and score three, four or five goals.”
Gabon striker Aubameyang scored twice and looked to be over a long goal drought that he endured this season.
Arteta is glad his captain is back scoring.
He said: “That is what he has done through his career and mentally you have to be really strong in order to do that, and come out of a difficult period where we miss his goals a lot and today he has come back and scored two and contributed to the team winning, which is exactly what we need. So I am really pleased for him.
“He had a little [stomach] problem and had to come off.”
Arteta, himself a former Arsenal midfielder, admitted that the team had struggled to cope without Ghana midfielder Thomas Partey who recently returned from injury and started on Monday.
“Obviously we have been missing Tommy and he has this presence, this aura, that makes him a special player for us,” Arteta noted.
“Hopefully we can keep him fit because we can all see the difference he makes on the side and I think he was growing and getting better and better as the game was growing and evolving.”
Arteta then attributed his team’s current run to growing confidence, especially after the 3-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day.
He said: “We always say that winning is the best thing for any collective team or any individual as well.
“But for us to get in the momentum that we are with the clean sheets – that was our fifth one in a row – we have managed to do that, the fact that we are scoring goals and everything is more fluent. The energy, the cohesion around the team and the spirit is better.
“So I’m glad, but we have to maintain that run and keep going. There are still a lot of things that we have to do better and improve but overall, I’m really pleased with how we’re playing at the moment.”
Playmaker Mesut Ozil is already in Turkey on the verge of completing a move to Fenerbahce to end his Arsenal nightmare.
Arteta froze Ozil entirely out of the team this season but he has only positive words about the German.
“Well, Mesut is in Turkey and he’s going through the medical which has to be completed and there is some paperwork that has to be done,” Arsenal explained.
“But it doesn’t matter, Mesut’s quality will be missed because he is a very special player that had a big history in this football club. And the deal, when it happens, I will give my clear opinion on that.”
Youngsters Saka and Emile Smith Rowe have been in superb form for the Gunners, and Arteta explained why they are preferred to older, more experienced players for now.
“It’s never an easy decision [to leave senior players out] because we’re talking about big players,” he noted.
“But at the end, I have to manage the football players who have moments in their career and in their season and to be fair, when someone is performing it doesn’t matter what his profile or his age is. I think they deserve to play. They were really good again tonight and I am really pleased with what they are bringing to the team.”
Arsenal’s recent form has propelled them up the table and doused any relegation fears their fans were beginning to have. They are now 10th in the table with 27 points from 19 matches, 12 points away from the relegation places.