Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admitted a specific team selection he was forced in to through injury provided a host of benefits in their victory over West Brom.
Arsenal bounced back after their bitter Europa League disappointment with a 3-1 victory over West Brom. The result sealed West Brom’s route back to the Championship, and in truth, there was little they could do to prevent the defeat.
Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe shone in the early stages, while Nicolas Pepe lodged his attempt at scooping the goal of the season accolade.
With time rapidly running out, Willian bagged a late free-kick after wrong-footing Sam Johnstone.
Speaking to BT Sport after the match, Arteta said: “We needed that win. It has been a while since we won at home. We scored three fantastic goals and we had some great spells in the game. When we conceded the goal we did look nervy.
“We knew the necessity to win the game. They scored out of nothing and then throw everything at you, they know the situation they are in and we struggled to play that kind of game. We scored three fantastic goals but we missed some big chances too.
“Europe is a completely different game, different context. There were things we could have done much better.”
When asked about Saka’s tremendous impact from left-back, a position Arteta had recently been deploying Granit Xhaka in but was forced to change following the midfielder’s injury, the Spaniard said: “Going forwards we know Saka is a threat, he gives you something unique.
“He adapted. We believed we were going to attack against them and he gave us a lot of joy.
“We will try to win every match and see where we finish. The only thing we can do is win our games.”
Smith Rowe lauds Arsenal’s future star partnership
Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe also spoke to the press, telling BT Sport: “We started a bit slow, our heads have been down for a couple of days. It was important for us to bounce back. I felt we got into the game in the second half and we are really happy with the three points.
“It has been a dream playing for this club and to finally score my first goal – can’t be better.
“It’s been a difficult week but happy to get the three points. It has been really difficult for us as a team, it is not nice to lose in the semi-final of a tournament, it is important we keep our heads up.”
When asked about how much he enjoys his budding partnership with Saka, the youngster added: “So much, I was saying to him before that he had to assist me, I’ve assisted him a few times this season. It was good to get the goal together.
“We are all going to fight for each other until the end.”