Premier League • England

Arteta explains why Arsenal became ‘nervy’ despite having control over Leeds

Mikel Arteta managing Arsenal

Mikel Arteta admitted that Arsenal were affected just as much as Leeds United by an opposition sending off, but was pleased with their control of the game.

Arsenal boosted their Champions League qualification hopes significantly with a 2-1 win over Leeds United. Eddie Nketiah scored twice inside the first 10 minutes against the club he was once on loan at.

Diego Llorente halved the deficit for Leeds – who had gone down to 10 men after Luke Ayling’s red card – but Arsenal held on to an important win. It puts them four points above Tottenham Hotspur, who they meet in their next fixture.

If they win it, they will guarantee themselves a first top-four finish since the 2015-16 season.

Starting in a similar manner to how they did against Leeds may be beneficial. They dominated the first half, creating several scoring opportunities.

However, Arteta felt their focus shifted in the latter stages, since it was hard to play against a hard-working side who had a player less.

Arteta told Match of the Day: “We started extremely well. We were determined and created chance after chance. And then playing against 10 men it is always more complicated.

“We controlled the game really well. It became nervy and you start to defend that result.”

If Arsenal had some challenges to overcome even against 10-man  Leeds, Arteta knows they will face different ones when they make the short trip to Tottenham.

Arteta thinks Arsenal deserve Champions League chance

The incentive to win is even greater than normal, though. Arteta thinks they deserve the chance to cross the finishing line for the top four.

On the prospect of Champions League qualification being confirmed on Thursday, he said: “We know that and we have earned the right to play that game in that context.

“We started the season with nine or 10 players out and playing the best two teams in Europe.

“Winning any match is extremely difficult. We are going to prepare for the game as best as can.”

Mikel Arteta signs new contract extension with Arsenal

Mikel Arteta has signed a new contract with Arsenal until the summer of 2025.

Tottenham, in contrast, will be going into that match on the back of a 1-1 draw with title challengers Liverpool. Arsenal are therefore two points better off than they were at the start of the weekend when it comes to the gap to their rivals.

It could become unassailable on Thursday – or reduce back to one point if they aren’t careful.

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