Mikel delighted at "dangerous" second half display

After netting three times to see off a resilient Oxford United, Mikel Arteta was delighted with the attacking threat his team showed after half-time.

The U’s made things extremely difficult for us in the opening 45 minutes as they nullified our frontline of Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah, however it was a different story after the break once Mohamed Elneny broke the deadlock and Nketiah converted two well-taken strikes.

Our patient, professional display pleased the boss, who knew it was always going to be a tough ask to break down the League One side on their big night.

On our tough encounter, he said: “We expected that - a very physical side and a really lively crowd. The pitch condition as well is different to what we’re used to but we have to win in any context and we competed really well. 

“I think we had to adjust [at half-time] and show more purpose. We needed more threat and a bit more rhythm in both possession and it worked.

“In the second half, we had a little bit more control of the game and attacked some of the spaces better, and we were really dangerous.”

That cutting edge was provided by Fabio Vieira who helped himself to two assists at the Kassam Stadium - a wonderful free-kick that allowed Elneny to power home a header, and then a perfectly weighted pass that saw Nketiah round the goalkeeper.

His display was very much appreciated by Arteta, who was also delighted to see the improvements our striker is making which helped him bag his fourth goal in his last four outings since the World Cup break.

“With the quality that [Vieira] has, he can decide games in the final third,” Mikel added. “He has this creativity and today he showed it with two really good moments to help us win the game.

“[Eddie] is in a really good moment, His confidence is building and physically he looks much better, and today I think he played a really good game again.”

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