Mikel Arteta insisted Arsenal aren’t shying away from seeking out Man City’s results and don’t need any extra motivation, while goalscorer Eddie Nketiah’s all-around game drew lofty praise.
Arsenal extended their lead atop the Premier League table to seven points after a hard-fought 4-2 victory over Brighton. Man City uncharacteristically dropped points at home when drawing 1-1 with Everton earlier in the day, and the Gunners made no mistake when the ball was put in their court.
Bukayo Saka opened the scoring inside two minutes before Martin Odegaard doubled the advantage as half time neared.
Eddie Nketiah appeared to put the game out of reach straight after the break with a classic poacher’s finish. However, Brighton refused to roll over on home soil.
Kaoru Mitoma pulled one back mid-way through the second half before Evan Ferguson reduced the deficit to just one. With the AMEX bouncing, Arsenal needed a moment of magic to calm the nerves and Gabriel Martinelli provided it.
The Brazilian showed tremendous pace to pull away from Tariq Lamptey before prodding past Robert Sanchez to make it 4-2.
Mitoma saw a late goal disallowed for a marginal offside and with that went Brighton’s hopes of a memorable comeback.
The win saw Arsenal stretch their lead over Man City to seven points. Third-placed Newcastle also failed to win having drawn 0-0 with Leeds.
Speaking to Sky Sports post-match, Arteta said: “Big win against a really good side.
“We had big moments, especially attacking open spaces [that Brighton left].
“We were ruthless, really clinical. We had some great moments but there were also moments we had to dig in and suffer because they put you in trouble. They’re a really good side.”
When asked if he could’ve done without the nerves that came amid Brighton’s attempted comeback, Arteta added: “It’s part of it.
“You can’t expect to come to this Brighton team and play them off the park and not conceded. It’s extremely difficult, especially with the way they play.
“A big test for us again, to win two in a row after the [World Cup break]. A big win and now onto the next one.”
Arteta was twice asked about making a fast start and whether it factored in to his pre-match preparations.
The Spaniard admitted it did, and Gunners talisman Saka delivered on his manager’s demand when notching the opener inside two minutes.
Nketiah all-around game hailed
On Nketiah who’s notched two goals in two since deputising for the injured Gabriel Jesus, Arteta said: “Great, I think think his contribution today with the way he worked, the way he understood what he had to do, the way he brought the team together with the way Brighton were pressing really high was really good.
“I’m really pleased with his goal again.”
Arsenal’s next three league fixtures are formidable on paper with Newcastle, Tottenham and Man Utd on the horizon.
On the difficult period upcoming, Arteta concluded: “We have to play every game.
“We have to focus again, review the match [against Brighton], analyse the things we did really well and look at the other things we need to improve.
“We’ll take that into the next match along with the same energy and playing in front of our crowd [against Newcastle], it’s going to be a special day and we’re looking forward to it.”
Arsenal don’t need extra motivation from Man City
Finally, Arteta was asked whether he or his players had a quick glance at Man City’s result prior to their own fixture kicking off half an hour later.
“You look at every result,” admitted Arteta. “Obviously you know what happened, but we have to focus on what we can do and it was to come here against a really difficult side, perform, and win.”
On whether he sensed an extra pep in their step after City dropped points, the Spaniard replied: “I think we have enough desire.
“Obviously [City’s result] was better for the table but we know what we have to do.”
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