Mikel Arteta gave a more positive outlook on Arsenal’s season after victory over West Brom secured a third straight win and moved his side to within six points of the top four.
Just 10 days after West Brom coach Sam Allardyce claimed Arsenal were “absolutely” in a relegation battle, the Gunners swept the former England manager’s struggling outfit aside to climb 12 points clear of the drop zone.
The Baggies were no match for the team Allardyce had considered their rivals to beat the drop, conceding sublime first-half strikes to Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka and then a clumsy second-half brace to Alexandre Lacazette.
While West Brom became the first team to lose consecutive Premier League home games by at least four goals since Wigan Athletic in 2010, Arsenal claimed a third straight victory, having won just two of their prior 12 matches.
Wins over Chelsea, Brighton and Hove Albion and now West Brom have come in quick succession over the festive period, lifting spirits at Emirates Stadium.
“I’m so happy that we were able to achieve the target that we had,” Arteta told BT Sport.
“The table looks completely different, the energy around the place is much better, and wins bring a lot of confidence. You can see that today in the performance and the way the team played.”
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 2, 2021
The game was played on a snow-covered pitch at The Hawthorns, which Arteta felt caused Arsenal problems even as they monopolised 61.6 per cent of the possession and had 21 attempts to West Brom’s seven.
Arteta said: “It was a very convincing win. To win the last three games in the Christmas period in the Premier League is not easy.
“I think today, in phases when the weather was better and the conditions to play were better, we played some great football.
“At the end, we had to manage in certain moments as well the conditions and the way we played because the pitch was really difficult.”
Tierney was a standout performer from left-back, covering 10.56 kilometres, and had no such concerns about the conditions.
“It is what it is,” he said. “Playing in Scotland my full career, I’m kind of used to that. It’s a bit of cold weather, so it hurts nobody.”
— Kieran Tierney (@kierantierney1) January 2, 2021
Of the former Celtic defender, who finished with an assist to go with his goal, creating a game-high four chances, Arteta added: “He’s been fantastic since I’ve been here.
“From the moment he got back from his shoulder injury, he’s been terrific. He’s a lad that gives you absolutely everything.
“He’s improving, he’s willing to get better and better, and he brings a great energy and quality to the team.”