Mikel Arteta hailed Arsenal’s efficiency against Sheffield United and suggested one of his players has shown him he can be a solution for a current dilemma.
Arsenal ended a run of four games without a win by claiming a convincing 3-0 triumph at Bramall Lane. Gabriel Martinelli scored his first goal in over a year in between a double from Alexandre Lacazette – who reached 50 Premier League goals as a result.
It was the ideal preparation for Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final second leg against Slavia Prague.
Indeed, Arteta was impressed with the style his side showed and their control of the play.
“I am really happy with the way we played,” he told BT Sport. “We scored some really nice goals and controlled the game the way we wanted.
“We played at a high level. From the start I felt the boys were at it, we were efficient.
“We had good distances to play with each other and they understood the space.”
Arsenal have had to adapt following the recent injury to Kieran Tierney. The latest solution was to field Granit Xhaka out of position, and Arteta saw enough to suggest he could do it again.
“It’s the first time Granit Xhaka has started at left-back,” he said. “It’s a possibility for him. He has the qualities to play there.”
That need might become greater if Bukayo Saka, another of the options who can cover there, is ruled out. After playing as an attacking midfielder, he had to go off with a thigh injury.
“Bukayo Saka, the last thing we need is another injury but he felt something in his thigh,” Arteta said.
Another player whose involvement was in question was Martinelli. He looked ready to come off moments before recovering and getting on the scoresheet.
Arteta had praise for both his goalscorers ahead of their switch of focus to the Europa League.
“Gabriel Martinelli twisted his ankle but he’s a tough boy,” he said. “Against Prague Lacazette missed two big chances and he needed those goals. He has been playing well.
“This is ideal preparation for Thursday. It has been a long run without a clean sheet.”
Lacazette notes growing confidence
Captain for the day Lacazette echoed Arteta’s comments about his finishing recently. He went on to claim that confidence is on the up.
“It was important we won and it was a great day for us,” the striker said.
“I missed an easy chance on Thursday and so I wanted to score.
“The confidence was lacking a little bit. We know we have the quality but sometimes we miss a little bit at both ends of the pitch.”