Mikel Arteta reacts to the moment that summed up his Arsenal mean machine in Brighton win
Posted by  badge Boss on Apr 08
Arsenal kept a club record fifth straight clean sheet away from home following their 3-0 win over Brighton

returned to the summit with a comprehensive 3-0 win at Brighton that suggested they are built to last the pace this season.

The Gunners surprise title tilt fell apart 12 months ago following a spectacular collapse that coincided with the loss of to injury.

Reunited with his twin tower of power this term, the pair are fast cementing a reputation as one of European football’s premier central defensive pairings.

With Ben White in imperious form in his new-look role at right-back and Declan Rice providing an almost impenetrable barrier in front of them, even the occasional lapses from Oleksandr Zinchenko are currently going unpunished at present.

And while there was much to admire about Arsenal’s attacking play on the south coast, which yielded goals from Bukayo Saka, Kai Havertz and Leandro Torssard, it is a new-found steeliness and passion for defending that is underpinning a season that could yet end in silverware.

The desire to keep a fifth consecutive and club-record clean sheet away from home was no better demonstrated than in injury-time when, with the game having been put to bed, Gabriel produced a superb block to deny Joao Pedro a consolation goal.

Arsenal’s Brazilian centre-half celebrated with a defiant roar and was immediately embraced by a clutch of his teammates, who appreciated the significance of Gabriel’s bravery and anticipation.

Gabriel’s late block epitomised Arsenal’s commitment to keeping a clean sheet (Picture: Getty)
David Raya produced a superb first half save to deny Brighton an equaliser (Picture: Getty)

With goal difference potentially set to play the decisive factor in the destination of the Premier League crown, the moment was not lost on Mikel Arteta, whose side boast a significant advantage in that regard.

‘That’s really pleasing for all the coaches to see that reaction from the team at 3-0.,’ said the Arsenal manager.

‘It’s great because that tells you how much they want it, the importance and the focus they put in every single ball, that was an extra bonus today.’

On what has clicked since the turn of the year,he added: ‘In the end, it’s about performances. You have to earn the right to win the games in this league and the teams, they ask you a lot of questions and there are a lot of things you have to control in a Premier League match to win away from home.

‘The team seems to be controlling those moments much better and being comfortable in different stages of games, when the teams are demanding all this stuff. That’s the biggest step as a team.’

Kai Havertz looks transformed from the player who started the season so slowly (Picture: Getty)

No player sums up the shift in confidence quite as much as Kai Havertz, who produced a man of the match display to further silence his critics.

‘Yeah, obviously, he’s in a different moment. He’s got some fantastic players around him,’ added Arteta.

‘We have tried to create the right environment for him which I think is very important for any player. We have given him confidence, I think hopefully we’ve given the love that he needs.

‘And after, he has the appreciation from the rest of the players and the staff at the club and now, our supporters for sure.’

The Gunners still face difficult looking trips to the likes of Wolves, Manchester United and Tottenham to contend with over the course of the final straight, but Arteta refused to look beyond next weekend’s game against Aston Villa at the Emirates.

‘I don’t know because we’re gonna have to play Aston Villa at home and that’s going to be a tough match,’ he said.

‘They’re a really good side. So we know that we’re gonna have to blaze. We have won 10 and drawn one in the last 11 and we’re not on top of the league.

‘This is the level and as well, this is the reason why we have to improve so quickly as a team to try to be there.’