Mikel Arteta lauded Arsenal’s win over Chelsea as “special” after his team ended a seven-game winless run in the Premier League.
Arsenal handed the under pressure Arteta a belated Christmas present on Boxing Day, with Alexandre Lacazette, Granit Xhaka and Bukayo Saka striking in a 3-1 win.
Chelsea pulled one back through Tammy Abraham late on, with Jorginho seeing a penalty saved by Bernd Leno as Arsenal avoided a nervy finish.
The victory lifted Arsenal up a place into 14th, ahead of matches against fellow strugglers Brighton and Hove Albion and West Brom.
“Obviously a really big win for us,” a relieved but ecstatic Arteta told Sky Sports.
“We were really disappointed and frustrated with the results, not the performances as much. The players were suffering, our fans were suffering.
“Today is a special day. It doesn’t get any better – Boxing Day, playing a London derby, at the Emirates, and winning the way we’ve done it.
“Hopefully it’s the turning point, it’s going to elevate the level of performance of the team. I know they can play at this level, it’s how consistent we are throughout the game to sustain that level and how consistent we are to maintain it. In big moments in the game, we were the better team, that’s why we won.”
2+ – Arsenal have won 46 of the last 48 Premier League games in which they’ve led by 2+ goals at half-time, drawing the other two; this is the first time they’ve led by two goals before the break this season. Dangerous.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 26, 2020
Asked what his overriding emotion after the final whistle was, Arteta replied: “When you start to see everything that’s going against us. When you play with 10 men, with injuries, COVID, with how we’ve been in a lot of games, you start to think what do we need to win a match.
“Today when we conceded the penalty I was thinking it was not possible. Relief, that’s the word, and happy for the players for the performance they put in and happy to give something back to our fans because I imagine they’ve been really disappointed.”
While Xhaka had more pass attempts (44), completed passes (34), passes in the Chelsea half (26) or touches (55) than any other Arsenal player, Saka and Gabriel Martinelli were major bright spots for the Gunners.
With Gabriel out due to coronavirus protocol, while Willian and David Luiz were unwell, Arteta seemed to find the right formula on Saturday.
“We had a good mixture today of youth and inexperience, all of them were superb,” he added.
“Even the mood before the game was really good. It’s not easy in this moment. I’m proud of the group and the spirit we have as well.
“We have to carry on, it’s a big week for us, we’ve started really well. We have a lot of things to improve, be better at, let’s focus on that.”
Arsenal have now won each of their last 10 home Premier League matches on Boxing Day, the second-best run in the competition’s history after Manchester United won 12 in a row between 1997 and 2016.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) December 26, 2020
Chelsea, meanwhile, have now lost three successive away games, and an infuriated Lampard did not hold back in criticising his team.
“It wasn’t good enough. We fought in the second half but in the first half we gave ourselves too much to do,” he told Sky Sports.
“The players who came on added speed energy and intensity. I’ll take responsibility on the outside but the players also have to take responsibility.
“The message was clear – Arsenal are a dangerous team. When you go out and play 60 or 70 per cent then you’re not going to win any games
“I am angry because I want us to win games. It was an opportunity to go second. You get what you deserve.”