Premier League • England

Arteta irked by key moment Arsenal got wrong, as fresh Aubameyang probe quashed

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, December 2021

Mikel Arteta hailed his Arsenal side for showing the club’s values in the win over West Ham but admitted that scoring the penalty could have made their evening easier.

The Gunners have enjoyed strong home form for a long period of the season under Arteta this season. That continued on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Hammers at the Emirates Stadium.

A lively first half did not produce any goals. However, Arsenal were straight out of the blocks in the second half. Indeed, Gabriel Martinelli fired the hosts in front with a cool finish.

Alexandre Lacazette, captain for the night, missed an opportunity from the spot to make it 2-0. Still, substitute Emile Smith Rowe eased his side’s concerns by finishing off a fine breakaway move late on.

Asked by BT Sport if Arsenal showed the perfect performance, Arteta said: “Absolutely, I’m really really pleased with the performance, the quality, the energy, the passion of the team.

“Winning games with the crowd, we had some really good moments. It’s a really difficult team to play against, they have a lot of solutions, they are a threat in many ways and I think we controlled them well.

“It was a great goal. That’s what Gabby can do and he’s always a threat and in behind. These spaces are really good for him to exploit.

“The second one was on the counter. It is a shame we missed a penalty in this moment because that would have given us a bit more time to relax.

“Against this team you cannot relax, they have the capacity in any action to score a goal.”

The win moved Arsenal above their London rivals and into the Premier League’s top four.

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Arteta hailed that as a “statement”, especially given the club’s three defeats and no goals from their first three games which left them bottom.

“It was a big game for us. Having the capacity to go above them and go fourth, it was a statement,” he said. “We’ve been pretty strong at home and we needed to put in another performance against a really difficult team.”

Aubameyang, Arsenal question quashed

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang clapping

Arteta has spoken of the leadership group at Arsenal and Lacazette took the captain’s armband on Wednesday.

That decision came after Arteta stripped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the honour following his late arrival back from a trip away.

But asked about his relationship with the striker, the manager said: “We will talk about that another day, today I want to focus on the game.”

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As for the 11 players on the pitch, Arteta said: “They were fully focused and they wanted to show how strong we are as a team. The performance, commitment and attitude they showed today is exactly what we are as a club.

“We have a leadership group, I expect every player to stick to our values and do what they have to do and then they have to enjoy themselves. Then they play with a passion.”

Arsenal return to action on Saturday when facing Leeds at Elland Road.