Smith Rowe and Martinelli give Arsenal attitude they’ve been missing in Chelsea win


ikel Arteta has been crying out for his Arsenal players to be fighters – and against Chelsea they finally answered his call.

Chelsea were not at their best at Emirates Stadium, there is no denying that, but Arsenal must take credit for knocking them off their stride.

Arteta’s side harried and pressed in a manner we haven’t seen since they last won a Premier League game, which was away at Old Trafford on November 1.

Arteta rang the changes for it, handing starts to the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, as he tried to spark Arsenal’s season into life.

And it clearly worked as Smith Rowe’s hunger and drive typified the way Arsenal went about their work. They were busy, buzzing around like wasps at a picnic, and the fight they need to get out of this miserable situation was evident.

Gabriel Martinelli was another who summed that up. Back from a knee injury, he is showing the kind of attitude Arsenal have been missing and they need more like him going forward.

It was his partner down the left, however, who got Arsenal ahead. Kieran Tierney, who never stopped running all game, skipped past Reece James to win a penalty. Alexandre Lacazette slotted it and you could almost see the confidence filter through the team.

Granit Xhaka demonstrated that by slamming home a free-kick before half-time. He couldn’t have hit it better and it all pointed towards the feeling this was going to be Arsenal’s day.

Bukayo Saka’s goal confirmed that, with his lofted cross somehow sailing over Edouard Mendy to make it 3-0. There was more than a stroke of luck about it, but Arenal will take that right now and they deserved it for the way they fought on Saturday.

Finally, Arteta is getting the fighters he needs. Now they must not stop. The battle has been won, but the war is far from over.

Xhaka justifies recall with excellent performance

After he was sent off against Burnley for grabbing Ashley Westwood by the throat, you wondered when we would see Xhaka again in an Arsenal shirt. 

Arteta would have been within his rights to leave the Swiss international out for this match with Chelsea – even though his three-game ban was over – given the manner of his red card earlier this month.

Arteta, however, opted to recall Xhaka and he was rewarded for his faith. The midfielder put in one of his best performances for a while. He ran the midfield, picking out players with some excellent passing. The odd loose tackle remained part of his game, but that could not overtake Xhaka’s work in possession. 

His brilliant free-kick was the icing on the cake.

Leno gives timely reminder of his talent

Given they had not won a Premier League game for nearly two months, it was no surprise to see some nerves among the Arsenal players as they tried to see this game out. 

When Tammy Abraham pulled one back with five minutes to go that only added to the jitters and then when Pablo Mari gave away a penalty in injury time, you feared the worst.

Bernd Leno, however, saved the day. The German pulled off a good save to his left to deny Jorginho and ensure Arsenal got the three points they so desperately needed. It was a timely reminder of Leno’s talent, who has come under fire this season while Emi Martinez has flourished at Aston Villa.

Martinez’s replacement, Alex Runarsson, had a nightmare evening against Manchester City earlier this week and Leno showed why he is Arsenal’s No1 – and how important he is to Arteta’s side.

This weekend get a £10 free bet with Betfair, when you bet £10 on a Same Game Multi on the Premier League.

Terms: Min £10 Same Game Multi bet on any EPL match this Fri- Sun. Free bet valid for 72 hours, awarded at bet settlement. Excludes cashed out bets. T&Cs apply.

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