Oleksandr Zinchenko roars Arsenal boast title-winning character after late show at Aston Villa
Oleksandr Zinchenko believes Arsenal ‘showed balls’ for title race in late show at Aston Villa
The Gunners had been drawing 2-2 against Villa with 90 minutes played and looked set to drop more points in the title.
Mikel Arteta’s side had already failed to win four of their last games and a fifth would have handed further momentum to Manchester City, who topped the table going into Saturday’s games.
But Arsenal struck twice in injury time to beat Villa 4-2 and, after City later drew with Nottingham Forest 1-1, the Gunners are now two points clear at the top with a game in hand.
“To be honest, the performance in the first half wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t happy at all,” said Zinchenko. “But in the second half we showed our character and this team has balls.
“It’s about the Premier League as well, it’s the strongest league in the world and these kind of games, the reaction we showed in the second half.
“I remember at City, we were also like losing, down at half time, but in the second half the response from the team was perfect and I would call these kind of dramatic games, they are like ‘Champions Games.’
“I’m not saying anything about the title yet because there’s still a lot of games to play but this is the sort of character that you need, the direction we need and that is the key.
“I would say that everyone here, and I’ve said already in the past many times, this group of people can achieve a lot of good things in the future if we work hard together and keep going in this way.
“The quality is there but we can’t stop, there’s a lot of things to improve but if we work hard to improve ourselves then we are on the right way to go.”
Arsenal celebrated wildly at Villa Park at full-time, with players and staff pleased to have hit back after losing 3-1 to City on Wednesday night.
The Gunners were made to work for the win at Villa, though, as twice they trailed when Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho scored.
Bukayo Saka and Zinchenko levelled on both occasions for Arsenal, before an Emi Martinez own-goal and one from Gabriel Martinelli secured the three points.
“In the second half we played with more courage and they’re huge points for us because it’s not easy to play Villa away so let’s keep going,” said Zinchenko.
“The reaction, everyone wanted to be back on the pitch, to do the right things and that’s what we did in the second half.
“In terms of the rhythm, in terms of the mood in the dressing room, it was so important to take three points and we are so happy for it.
“We have a lot of leaders in our dressing room and this mix between the young players and experienced players is so good, and our staff pushing us to go forward and to improve ourselves, and it’s a good mix between young players and experienced players.
“That’s the key, to stick together and to believe until the very end. I would also like to say a massive thanks to our fans who were pushing us until the very end.
“This is the Premier League, it’s not easy to play against anyone here, anyone can beat you and that’s why you need to stay focused in all of the 90 minutes and even if you are down, you have to keep believing and doing the right things.”