EPL

Arteta praises 'unique' Saka after Gunners finally fire to relegate West Brom

By Sports Desk May 09, 2021

Mikel Arteta praised "unique" teenager Bukayo Saka after Arsenal ended a miserable week by relegating West Brom with a 3-1 Premier League victory on Sunday.

The Gunners are facing the prospect of missing out on European football for the first time in 25 years next season after they were knocked out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage by Villarreal on Thursday.

A drab goalless draw against the Spanish side – coached by former Gunners boss Unai Emery – was a new low for Arsenal and piled more pressure on Arteta, but they responded with a first home win in seven games.

Emile Smith Rowe scored his maiden Premier League goal before Nicolas Pepe added a second with a sublime finish to put Arsenal in command.

Matheus Pereira pulled a goal back midway through the second half, but Willian finally opened his Arsenal account with a brilliant late free-kick as Baggies boss Sam Allardyce suffered the agony of relegation from the top tier for the first time.

Saka laid on the opening goal for Smith Rowe and has provided 19 assists in all competitions, the most of any player for the club since making his debut in November 2018.

The 19-year-old was a constant threat, delivering five crosses and producing two key passes in a performance that Arteta was more than happy with.

He told BT Sport: "Going forward we know Saka is a threat, he gives you something unique. He adapted. We believed we were going to attack against them and he gave us a lot of joy."

Arsenal are ninth in the table with surely only pride to play for and Arteta is determined to avoid finishing such a disappointing season with a whimper.

He said: "We will try to win every match and see where we finish. The only thing we can do is win our games." 

The Spaniard added: "We needed that win. It has been a while since we won at home. We scored three fantastic goals and we had some great spells in the game. When we conceded the goal we did look nervy.

"We knew the necessity to win the game. They scored out of nothing and then throw everything at you, they know the situation they are in and we struggled to play that kind of game.

"We scored three fantastic goals but we missed some big chances too."

Related items

  • Cavalier go down 2-0 against FC Cincinnatti in Champions Cup clash Cavalier go down 2-0 against FC Cincinnatti in Champions Cup clash

    FC Cincinnati asserted their dominance in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup Round One series, securing a convincing 2-0 victory over Jamaican club Cavalier in the first leg at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

    The match witnessed early and intense action, with both teams having promising opportunities to score within a span of 30 seconds. Sergio Santos of FC Cincinnati initiated the action, heading a shot at Cavalier goalkeeper Jeadine White. In response, Cavalier's Orlando Russell's shot at goal was thwarted by a save from FC Cincinnati custodian Roman Celetano.

    Santos came close to breaking the deadlock in the 34th minute, striking the crossbar with a powerful shot. However, his persistence paid off just before half-time when Bret Halsey found Santos, who skillfully slotted home a shot, giving FC Cincinnati a 1-0 lead.

    In the second half, Cavalier aimed to stage a comeback and tested the FC Cincinnati defense. A crucial moment occurred in the 64th minute, with Shaniel Thomas, the top scorer in the 2023 Concacaf Caribbean Cup, seemed poised to take a shot but FC Cincinnati's Yuya Kubo intervened with a last-ditch slide tackle, clearing the imminent threat.

    Determined to further assert their dominance, FC Cincinnati sought a second goal and they came close in the 82nd minute when Pavel Bucha unleashed a volley from a corner kick that grazed the crossbar.

    The coveted second goal materialized for FC Cincinnati in the 87th minute, orchestrated by a slick back heel from Arquimides Ordonez. Malik Pinto sealed the deal with a powerful and well-placed right-footed finish, securing the 2-0 victory and putting Cavalier on the ropes as FC Cincinnati will carry this advantage into the next leg, aiming to advance further in the competition.

     

  • Mikel Arteta believes refereeing has improved since his outburst at Newcastle Mikel Arteta believes refereeing has improved since his outburst at Newcastle

    Mikel Arteta believes Premier League officiating has improved since his “strong” criticism of VAR following Arsenal’s defeat at Newcastle in November.

    The Spaniard labelled the decision to allow Anthony Gordon’s goal to stand in a 1-0 loss at St James’ Park as “embarrassing” and a “disgrace”.

    Arteta was later charged by the FA for breaking Rule E3.1 – which could have resulted in a ban but was instead cleared in December.

    Arsenal now host Newcastle on Saturday looking to keep up the pace in the Premier League title race, as well as bounce back from their 1-0 Champions League last-16 first-leg defeat in Porto on Wednesday.

    Asked if he had seen an improvement in officiating and VAR since his post-match rant – which was backed up by an official statement from the club – Arteta replied: “Well that is what we all wanted.

    “That at the end the decisions are better and I think the last stats that came across show that there was a significant improvement and a lot of the decisions they were getting right, so hopefully that is the case and we continue to do that.

    “I talked the way I felt. I was very straight and I did it in a way that was pretty strong but within the law because I didn’t get charged for it and I think that tells the story.”

    After impressive away wins at West Ham and Burnley, Arsenal suffered defeat in Portugal on Wednesday night to leave their Champions League progression in the balance.

    Porto did a great job of slowing the game down at the Estadio do Dragao, with 36 fouls awarded – a Champions League record this season – before Galeno hit a last-gasp winner.

    Speaking after the game, Declan Rice said that Arsenal need to improve their “savviness” while Arteta admits his players need to develop their level of streetwise.

    “Yes, we certainly can develop a lot of things and those experiences are really relevant to judge whether we were or we weren’t,” he replied when asked if the team need to improve their darks arts.

    “I believed that they did a lot of things right. But managing games and things like that, we can still improve.

    “But in a year’s time for sure we can still improve and we can improve in our build-up phase and we can improve in our restarts. We can improve in many areas.

    “I don’t know if it is about (being) a bad guy but you have to be tricky, you have to be smart, you have to be streetwise and you have to try to take advantages in every situation. They know that.
     
    “That’s a thing that has to be developed – you don’t have it, that’s for sure. The best teams, the best players, they have that.”

    Arteta revealed that Thomas Partey could return on Saturday evening, with a number of other recent injury absentees pushing to be in contention.

    Partey has not played since suffering a thigh injury in October, while Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko could also return – while Takehiro Tomiyasu is still out.

    Arteta also offered up good news on Jurrien Timber’s return – the summer signing having been out since suffering a serious knee injury on his Premier League debut in August.

    Asked if Timber could play again this season, the Spaniard said: “I really hope so. He’s doing really well.

    “He’s been with some players on the pitch. He’s going to start to do some bits with us on the pitch in the next week or so.

    “Then we’ll have to see how he’s doing, his confidence level, his fitness level. Hopefully the answer will be yes.”

  • Liverpool paired with Sparta Prague in Europa League round of 16 Liverpool paired with Sparta Prague in Europa League round of 16

    Premier League leaders Liverpool will face Sparta Prague in the last 16 of the Europa League, while Brighton face another glamour tie against Roma.

    The Reds will travel to the Czech capital for the first leg on March 7, before a return at Anfield a week later in a competition Liverpool have won three times in the past.

    Brighton’s maiden European campaign takes them to the Italian capital after they topped Group B containing Marseille, Ajax and AEK Athens.

    Europa Conference League holders West Ham face German team Freiburg, while Rangers are up against two-time European champions Benfica from Portugal.

    The Europa League final will take place in Dublin on May 22.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.