Mikel Arteta has praised his Arsenal side for their ‘ugly victory’ as they cruised to a 2-1 win over West Ham to climb back above Tottenham to fourth in the Premier League.
The Gunners weren’t at their fluid best at the London Stadium but emerged victorious thanks to headed goals from centre-backs Rob Holding and Gabriel Magalhaes either side of Jarrod Bowen’s equaliser.
West Ham subjected the Gunners to long periods of pressure as they tried to respond in the second half, but Arteta’s side defended decisively to move two points above Spurs and within three of Chelsea, third, after their defeat against Everton.
“We won lousy and the big teams have to find a way to win lousy when they’re not playing at their best,” Arteta said. sky sports.
“With the ball we were really poor. We lacked the composure, the dominance to play the game we wanted to play, but we found a way to play from set pieces, defending extremely well.
“Winning here is what the boys deserve. They showed the spirit we have.
“I’m still digesting a lot of things that we didn’t do well, but as a team to gain confidence and carry on with the moment we have, we’ve won against three big teams in a row.”
Asked about Arsenal showing a streetwise streak, Arteta added: “I love it. We need it to win football games.
“You have to find a way, you have to play the game that is necessary to play when you are not at your best and we have done that at many times.”
Redknapp: Nketiah gives a different dimension
Holding was named man of the match at the London Stadium, but the sky sports The punditry team also praised Eddie Nketiah.
The striker is not on the scoresheet but proved a threat to West Ham throughout the game after retaining his place in the squad ahead of Alexandre Lacazette.
“Nketiah gave Arsenal a different dimension,” said Jamie Redknapp.
“When you have a player like Lacazette, who can’t run behind, he always comes to the ball.
“It’s good, it ties the game together, lovely, but you have to expand the game.
“You have to stretch teams and that’s what Nketiah does.
“He gives the team a release and it changes the whole complexion of the game.”
Souness ‘surprised’ by Nketiah’s contract situation
Graeme Souness, meanwhile, described Nketiah as the standout performer and said he was “astonished” that Arsenal had not tied the 22-year-old to a new contract.
Nketiah has been offered terms by the Gunners but has so far rejected their offers, with his current contract expiring at the end of the campaign.
“I thought Nketiah was the best player on the pitch against West Ham,” Souness said. “He was always threatening.
“His contract is about to expire? I’m amazed at that.
“There will be no shortage of teams who want him. He always seemed like a threat and he is ready to fight.
“I really like him and against West Ham I thought he was fabulous.
“He’s put himself on display. If that’s his general standard, he’ll have no shortage of teams wanting to take him.”
Smith: Nketiah could change his mind
Alan Smith believes Nketiah could still feel encouraged to change his mind about his future at Arsenal if he gets more playing time by the end of the season and finishes the campaign strong.
“They offered him a new contract but because he’s played so little football he wants to play regular football,” Smith said.
“He’s not hurting himself with the way he’s playing at the moment, and that might just encourage him to think that next year I might have more games.
“I think he would get more games like this.
“If you walk away, chances are it will be a step up for him. It will be a Premier League mid-table side who sign him, you imagine.”
“He added: ‘When he came on as a substitute this season I think he just jogged too much and didn’t contribute enough, but you saw the way he got. closed against West Ham.
“He did it against Chelsea for his goal when Andreas Christensen played a short back pass.
“His overall game is much better and he goes out of his way.
“I think his hold-up game has also improved. There were times when he would back up into his man and put his body between the ball and the defender.
“So clearly that’s something he’s trying to bring into his game.”
Smith continued: “He’s always looking at a defender’s shoulder, he’s got a bit of pace and he’s always got the whites from the posts in mind. He was unlucky not to score against West Ham.
“Nketiah’s emergence comes at just the right time for Arsenal as Alexandre Lacazette looked like he had done everything he could do this season.
“Coming in and doing what he did is fantastic.”
Arsenal’s remaining matches
May 8 – London (h)live of sky sports
May 12 – Tottenham (a)live of sky sports
May 16 – Newcastle (a)live of sky sports
May 22 – Everton (h)