‘The boys were unbelievable’

Mikel Arteta was all smiles after our dramatic late, late win over Aston Villa.

We looked certain to be dropping points for the fourth Premier League game in a row until a late own goal from Emi Martinez and Gabriel Martinelli’s breakaway strike secured a richly-deserved three points.

The win returned us back to the top of the table, at least until Manchester City’s game later in the day, and the boss said the manner of the win made the victory even more important.

“Obviously, the result is massive for us, especially after the way it happened,” he said at full-time. “Today we have to take some lessons. The first one in the first half, we did a lot of simple things wrong at an individual level which are right below the standards that are required to play in the Premier League and at the level that we want to play.

“We showed a lot of character, no-one lost their temper. Emotionally, we really went for it in the second half and didn’t throw our toys away and individually, we raised our level so much that we played our game. I thought we were by far the better team and deserved to win the game.”

It was a stunning turn-around from the team, after a first half in which we twice fell behind. Mikel’s message to the players at half-time was clear: “Not to feel sorry for ourselves,” he revealed. “We had a great performance against City where we challenged.

“But the truth is that in key moments, we weren’t good enough in the boxes and to deal with the game. And then you come here 72 hours later, which is tough, and you have to do it again. We had to do it following the two results and with the fatigue we had from that game, the boys were unbelievable.”

He also praised the resolve of the team, to respond to recent criticism after not winning our last three league games, surrendering top spot in the process.

“That’s even more unbelievable,” he said, “because some of the questions being posed on whether we are able to come back in difficult moments when you have to score two or three to win a game.


“This was especially the way it happened defensively when we conceded two goals from the first two shots but after that, we were really, really good.”

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