It was nice to see Arsenal play a very solid game to beat Sheffield United yesterday, with a much-needed clean sheet to give us added confidence for the big game in Prague on Thursday. But Arteta had to make many changes due to the absence of Luiz, Tierney, Odegaard, Smith-Rowe and Aubameyang, but the shuffled line-up played admirably to cheer Arteta up.
The boss said after the game: “We had a really strong performance. A clean sheet which was needed after a long run without it. We were very efficient, intelligent and composed with the ball, which I am very pleased with. We showed dedication, understanding and it was the right attitude so overall, I’m very happy.
“A win always brings confidence, better spirits, better atmosphere and better energy and we’ll need all that on Thursday to go through.”
In the absence of our captain, it was Lacazette that yet again stepped up with two goals, an excellent team effort for his first and a great poachers goal for the icing on the cake, and Arteta is hoping he can carry on this form for the rest of the campaign. He said about the first one: “It was a typical Arsenal goal. I think it was really high quality and the finish from Laca and the movement was really good as well. He’s playing really well at the moment, scoring goals and he’s full of confidence, so he just needs to keep going.
“Yeah, he’s in great form with a high level of confidence and he needs to keep doing it right up until the end of the season because if he’s able to continue this run, it will mean that the team is doing well and we are winning football matches. ”
The other goal was Gabriel Martinelli’s first goal for 14 months, and Arteta was very pleased but pleaded for patience with him and our other youngsters. “Yes, I am [delighted]. I’m asking you to be patient because we have a lot of players who are 19/20-years-old and if you compare where we are with them with other Premier League clubs, then we’re at the top end. It’s not common. Gabi has the right path and the right development. He’s got an agreeable attitude and talent and he’s got all of his future in front of him. We have to manage that and try to give him the right amount of minutes and the games for him to develop and continue to get better.”
So a good win for our confidence ahead of Thursday, despite our enforced changes. It was our first clean sheet in 12 games too, so hopefully all the planets will align in our favour on Thursday…