Arsenal’s unbeaten run stretched to seven games as Aston Villa were swatted away with ease at the Emirates.
First half goals from Thomas Partey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put the Gunners in a commanding position before Emile Smith Rowe rounded off a sweeping counter-attack (with the aid of a deflection) to make sure of the three points.
While Jacob Murphy did pull a goal back for the visitors, they never looked like adding to their winning run against the Gunners.
Unsurprisingly, Mikel Arteta was in a buoyant mood in his post-game press conference. Asked if this was a performance where everything came together, he said:
“Yeah, very close to it. What I like the most is the way the team reacted to Monday evening, how we finished the game and how they were in the dressing room, accepting that it wasn’t good enough.
“We played to a really good level in some parts [on Monday] but to a level that is not acceptable in others.
“We are the youngest team in the league but that’s not an excuse because we can change the age. We cannot find these kind of excuses.
“We have to find why those things happen in the game, find the right solution and then put them right and believe that they can play at that level because they can.”
Asked about the VAR awarded penalty – given for a foul on Alex Lacazette – which was given after first half stoppage time had been played out, the Spaniard said:
“VAR obviously didn’t give us anything against Palace. I think it’s a penalty, the timing, yeah, you can discuss whether or not the time is right but if you ask me to have a judgement on the action, it’s a penalty.”
On moving into the top half of the table – at the time of writing, the Gunners sit ninth – Arteta added: “Yes, it’s nice. We had a tough start and we’ve been more consistent with results. With performances, there are things that we must do better. But today I’m very satisfied with the performance and the result.”
There was also praise for a number of starters, including Premier Leagued debutant Nuno Tavares who filled in for Kieran Tierney.
“I think the [man of the match] could have been anybody. I think individually, they were all terrific.
“If you ask me about Thomas, about Sambi, about Nuno as well, the two central defenders, anybody. I think the way they played was at a high, high level.
“Emile was terrific. He’s scoring goals, which we’re demanding him to do, because he’s capable of doing it. I think it’s more about the team today.”
Smith Rowe scoring against a side who twice attempted to lure him away from the Emirates was particularly satisfying for supporters.
“That should be a habit and he should demand that in his game, because he’s capable of doing it,” said Arteta.
“I’m pleased he’s developing that. He still needs to develop more in other areas. The other night he wasn’t 100 per cent fit but he made a step forward and wanted to play with a difficult injury that he had.
“He wasn’t complaining, he was just looking forward. He’s changed the way he’s living a little bit as well, and some habits that he had. He’s been superb.
He added: “It’s a perfect example of why we want to keep him, why we are giving him the opportunity to do what he can do for our club and that we are happy with him.”
The games keep coming thick and fast for the Gunners. Leeds visit the Emirates in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday as we look to maintain momentum.