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Graeme Souness has heaped praise on Mikel Arteta after Arsenal dug deep to edge closer to a top-four finish on Sunday.
The Gunners are locked in a battle with Tottenham for the final Champions League spot and headed into the weekend with a slender two-point advantage over their bitter north London rivals. And they managed to maintain that lead after goals from Rob Holding and Gabriel Magalhaes sealed a 2-1 win over West Ham at the London Stadium.
Arsenal made a horrific start to the season and were even bottom of the table when the first international break of the year arrived. That led to some fans and pundits calling for Arteta to be axed earlier in the year.
But the Spaniard and the Gunners have taken huge strides since then – and are now on course to silence their critics by ending their five-year Champions League exile and clinching an unexpected top-four finish.
Speaking after Arsenal's crucial win on Sunday, Souness claimed that Arteta has worked wonders to turn Arsenal's season around. He told Sky Sports: "Right now, if you’re passing judgement now, he’s passing with flying colours."
Arteta's remarkable turnaround hasn't been without issues though. The Gunners have had big wobbles in form this term – and they even seemed set to blow their fine work as recently as a couple of weeks ago after falling to three shock defeats in a row. But Sunday's gutsy win over Hammers means Arsenal have now won three consecutive games to rekindle their top-four hopes.
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They didn't have things all their own way at the London Stadium though – and Arteta admitted that the Gunners had to fight their way to an "ugly win". He told Sky Sports: "We won ugly and big teams have to find a way to win ugly when they don't play at their best.
"With the ball we were really poor. We lacked composure, dominance to play the game we wanted to play, but we found a way through set pieces, through defending extremely well. To win here is credit to the boys. They showed the spirit we have.
"I'm still digesting a lot of things we didn't do right, but as a team to grow in confidence and to continue with the moment we have, we've won against three big teams in a row."
- Arsenal FC
- Mikel Arteta
- Premier League
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