Mikel Arteta says Arsenal have much to improve but he couldn’t hide his relief after watching his side secure a first league win since the beginning of November.
The Gunners weren’t fancied going into the Boxing Day clash with Chelsea but produced an impressive display to secure a 3-1 win courtesy of Alex Lacazette’s penalty, Granit Xhaka’s free-kick and a second half chip by Bukayo Saka.
It wasn’t all plain-sailing for the home side who conceded late to Tammy Abraham and then relied on Bernd Leno’s penalty save to maintain their two-goal advantage.
“It’s a really big win for us,” Arteta told Sky Sports afterwards. “We were really disappointed with the results – not so much the performances. Our players were suffering, our fans were suffering.
“It doesn’t get any better than winning a London derby against Chelsea on Boxing Day. Hopefully this is a turning point. I know they can play at this level. We know how good Chelsea are but big moments in the game we were the better team.
“The injuries, the Covid, playing 10 men…you start to think what do we need to win a match.
“It’s nice to give something back to fans because I can imagine they have been really disappointed. We started well and we were dominant. That gives the team confidence.”
After illness and a Covid-19 scare robbed Arteta of Brazilian trio Gabriel, Willian and David Luiz, the boss handed starts to youngsters Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli and gave Pablo Mari a first league start. He was repaid handsomely.
“We had a good mixture today of youth and some senior players,” replied Arteta when asked if the young players had made the difference.
“I think all of them were superb, I would not like to just pick on certain players because the atmosphere from the players that were there supporting on the bench, even the mood before the game, we were talking about it and it was really good.
“It’s not easy at this moment and I’m proud of the group of players that we have and the team spirit that we have as well.
“We have to carry on. We mentioned it’s a big week for us. We started really good the week, let’s carry on. We know we have a lot of things to improve and be better at, so let’s focus on that as well and move on to the next game.”