In the immediate aftermath of Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the Gunners players and staff were quick to salute the travelling fans who’d been in full voice throughout the 90 minutes.
The appreciation was mutual. As the supporters worked through a revitalised songbook, the players shared high-fives and laughs, chucked shirts into the crowd and took a moment to soak it all in.
“It was great,” he said of the noisy Arsenal contingent. “Our supporters have been absolutely phenomenal, they have transformed the club, the energy of the club, that’s my opinion.
“They have transformed the way the team believes in what they are doing. To share that with them away from home is really special.
“I had my family there, I had my son there in the middle of the crowd so it was great.”
After Manchester City’s stoppage time win over Fulham yesterday, the pressure was on Arsenal to respond. All too often in the last 15 years, showdowns with top six rivals have been painful affairs, but that wasn’t the case today.
The Gunners controlled the match from start to finish and while we had to rely on a goal from a set piece, it was a result that was truly deserved. With each passing week, talk of a proper title challenge grows.
While belief in the camp is growing, Arteta isn’t getting carried away.
“Just look at the last six years what Manchester City has done. With the best manager in the world, with the best team in the world. They have shown it consistently in every single competition,” he said.
“We have to be very very respectful of that. We are getting much better as team, we are competing much better. We are getting really good results right now, but this is a long, long journey.
On the performance, he added: “I was really impressed, we are a really young team, but we showed a lot of maturity, a lot of composure, a lot of courage, a lot of determination to play in this stage in the way we’ve played, it’s easy to say but really difficult to do. I think the boys were phenomenal today.
“What is fantastic is to see the team taking another step, today was under pressure, yesterday we lost that spot, we prepared the game to come here and win. But understanding that winning here is a different story, and today the boys they’re done it. I’m really happy because we have managed to get that step.”
The boss also said his players had learned from the 3-1 defeat to Manchester United, which remains our only loss of the campaign.
“We lacked discipline in that game. We lacked the discipline that is necessary in certain moments, to do what you have to do. Because if not, you get punished. I think we learned that lesson really well. Because again I think we played really well there, but it wasn’t enough to win, and that’s the difference – and how top teams do it.”