Emi Martinez has revealed that Mikel Arteta urged his players to show their ‘animal side’ after giving them a half time dressing down during their 1-0 win against Leeds United.
The Gunners were outfought, outsmarted and outplayed by the Championship side in every department during the early stages and were lucky, having conceded 15 shots, to make it to the break without conceding.
The home side showed a marked improvement after 15 minutes spent in the company of their furious head coach and ground out a win, and an FA Cup 4th round tie with Bournemouth, courtesy of Reiss Nelson’s 55th-minute strike.
After the game, Martinez told Arsenal.com: “It was tough for us we should have been one or two-nil down, but we held them well and in the second half we did an incredible performance and we deserved to win.
“If you thought it was going to be an easy game, you’d be so wrong. They fight like animals, and they did. In the first 35 minutes, they were winning every single thing but we talked at half-time about the things we could improve and in the second half we were amazing.
“We knew that if we didn’t change, we lose the game and we’d be out. We could not afford to do that especially in front of our home support.”
On Arsenal’s appalling start and the strong words of the boss, he added: “I think they were winning every 50/50 and they were just getting the ball back very soon.
“They were pressing really hard and it was very difficult to get out how we did in training but in the second half, the manager said, ‘If we don’t win 50/50s, we are going to lose the game.’
“The lads went out there and, the gaffer says we need to ‘run like a wolf’ and have that animal side to us. I thought we did really well, we ran like we should have from the first minute. We’re delighted for the win and we move on.
“He [Arteta] was really angry but that’s what we need. We can’t switch off after a good win against Manchester United and I think we did in the first five minutes, we did switch off and that shouldn’t happen especially at home.”
Tonight’s clean sheet was Martinez’s third in eight games this season; not a bad return given how poor we’ve been at the back. He’s determined to keep up his decent form whenever he gets a chance to play.
“Whenever they give me a game I try to keep a clean sheet and give the back four confidence with the goalkeeper behind them.
“There is competition between me and Bernd, we’re both young and I just want to play games and try to do my best in the cup competitions.”