Mikel Arteta was delighted with our 1-0 win at Brentford in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night.
“I’m very happy because you are in or you are out,” he said. “We came to Brentford, we played against their best team and we had a lot of issues today to bring a squad together because we had seven important players with injury.
“We started the game really well and had a lot of control in the first half. We scored a really good goal and should’ve scored more and in the second half we played a lot of moments in the game that Brentford wanted.
“We started to play too direct and we didn’t keep the ball and struggled to get into the final third in the right way. When that happens, the game starts to be a stretch and a lot of long balls, a lot of duels, and then set-pieces - throw-ins, corners, free-kicks. You have to defend with 11 players around your penalty spot and that’s a tough thing to do against Brentford.”
We had our backs to the wall during the second half, but Aaron Ramsdale made a couple of really important saves as our defenders produced block after block.
"Yeah we had some really good blocks in the box, some really big defensive moments, especially one when Aaron made a save and I think the ball hit the post, so really pleased with everybody, especially now that we have a lot of injuries, and really pleased that we find a way to win this game and stay in the competition,” Mikel said.
On Emile Smith Rowe’s 100 games for the club, Mikel added: “Very happy for him. I knew that was coming and celebrating it with a win is great. He had good moments in the game, he was struggling at the end because physically he’s still not with enough rhythm or enough minutes, but it’s great to have him back.”
It was also great to see Mohamed Elneny back on the pitch for a brief cameo after a long-term injury.
“Yes, he fully deserves that, it’s been a long, long process for him,” Mikel said. “He’s put a lot of hours and work, and it’s credit as well to all the physios and the medical department because we need him. He brings something special to the team and I’m really pleased that he played some minutes today.”
Last year, Ethan Nwaneri came on at Brentford at the age of 15 to become the Premier League’s youngest ever player. Today, Charles Sagoe Jr was handed his debut at 19, days after we had a 13-year-old playing for the under-18s. It’s all further proof that, when it comes to playing for Arsenal, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.
“Really happy for Charles,” Mikel added. “He’s been really consistent and really good this season as well. He’s trained a lot with us and obviously, because of the injuries as well, we needed someone there. We have to give him the chance and trust him and I’m happy that he had a really good debut and we won the game.”
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