Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal showed they are becoming “more mature” in a “big win” at Brighton and Hove Albion that put them seven points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Draws for Manchester City and Newcastle United against Everton and Leeds United respectively earlier on New Year’s Eve gave the Gunners a chance to increase their lead at the summit.
They grabbed it with both hands at the Amex Stadium, Bukayo Saka setting them on their way with a goal after only 66 seconds.
Inspirational captain Martin Odegaard doubled Arsenal’s lead and Eddie Nketiah added a third goal, with Gabriel Martinelli getting in on the act either side of strikes from Seagulls duo Kaoru Mitoma and Evan Ferguson.
Mitoma looked to have set up a tense finale when he found the back of the net for a second time, but a VAR check showed he had strayed offside.
Arsenal are sitting pretty after five consecutive top-flight wins and Arteta thinks they are growing with every victory.
The Gunners head coach said: “The team is getting more mature and that was a big test today.”
5 – Arsenal are just the fifth side in English top-flight history to pick up as many as 43 points from the first 16 games in a season (3 pts for a win) after Tottenham (1960-61), Chelsea (2005-06), Man City (2017-18) and Liverpool (2019-20). Pacesetters. pic.twitter.com/y1GYJRQ7IJ
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 31, 2022
Arteta added: “It’s a big win, I’m really happy. It’s a really tough place to come. They are a really good side, they are extremely well coached and they made it tough for us. We made it tough for them as well.
“I think we were excellent, especially in attacking phases when we had the space, and the way they defend they makes it very open and we made the most out of it.
“We had moments that we discussed before where we were going to suffer and defend deeper. There were moments where we should have done better and we put ourselves in trouble, but that’s the learning part and every game is a huge test.”
The Spaniard knows there is plenty of work to do in the London club’s quest to be crowned champions for the first time since 2004 as they turn their attention to face third-placed Newcastle at home on Tuesday.
Arteta said: “It’s still a long run to go. My excitement comes from going into the dressing room when the players are talking about what they should have done better today.
“That means that they know that we can still play better and be better, and against Newcastle we have to be better.”
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