Mikel Arteta has lauded one Arsenal star for his ‘huge’ impact during the 4-1 victory over Leeds.
The Gunners made it three consecutive Premier League wins by easing past Marcelo Bielsa’s side at Elland Road. They are now four points ahead of West Ham in the race for fourth, having played an extra game.
Gabriel Martinelli made it goals in successive matches when he put Arsenal in front with 16 minutes gone. Leeds midfielder Adam Forshaw failed to clear in the box, allowing Martinelli to beat Illan Meslier with a first-time strike.
His brace was completed soon afterwards, with a clever chip over Meslier showing the Brazilian in full flow.
Bukayo Saka was a threat all game long and got on the scoresheet himself before half-time. The England international drove into the box, and Leeds once again struggled to clear their lines. Saka capitalised by beating Meslier with a low drive, which deflected in off Mateusz Klich.
Raphinha pulled one back from the penalty spot after a clumsy challenge from Ben White on Joe Gelhardt. But substitute Emile Smith Rowe ensured all three points went back to north London with a confident finish in the final 10 minutes.
Arteta told Sky Sports (via BBC Sport) after the game: “It was a great performance from the lads. They’re the ones who have to execute [the game plan] against a team who are uncomfortable to play against. We’ve had three games in a week, very physical games. I’m very pleased.
“We had some intentions. I think the players understood the game really well. We were really effective and in the first half we were really good. I think we deserved these three wins and we’re really pleased.”
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Alexandre Lacazette once again looked impressive up front in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s absence.
“He has a big talent – he makes the players around him better,” Arteta said on the Frenchman.
Attention then turned to goalscorer Martinelli. On his influence, Arteta continued: “Huge. That’s why you have to prepare a player. You can’t throw in a player when he’s not ready. He has so much still to improve. He’s very humble. His big passion in life is football.”
Aubameyang has now missed three matches due to a disciplinary breach. “He wasn’t involved in today’s game. Let’s see,” Arteta said. “There’s a privacy matter at the moment that I have to respect.”
Martinelli ‘so happy’ with third straight Arsenal win
During a post-match interview with Sky Sports, Martinelli said: “It was a very good result. It’s so important for the team. All the team played well and we’re so happy with the work and the result.
“That’s what Mikel asks from us. Every time we go into the final third we need to be dangerous.
“As I always say, we have a young team but a very strong team with good players. Emile came from the bench and scored another goal. I’m so happy for the team.”
On his second goal: “It was a great pass from Granit [Xhaka] – thanks to him as well. Not just me, the whole team enjoyed the second goal.”
On his partnership with Alexandre Lacazette: “He always attracted the centre-back and I had the chance to go in behind. We’re doing well.”