Mikel Arteta delighted as Arsenal players 'took handbrake off' in West Brom win

Mikel Arteta says Arsenal players “took the handbrake off” in Saturday’s win against West Brom and the performance was close to what he wants from his side.

Arsenal won their third successive Premier League game with a 4-0 victory at The Hawthorns, also keeping a second clean sheet in a row. It mirrors the form of Alexandre Lacazette too, as the Frenchman netted twice to bring up five goals in his last four games in all competitions.

The Gunners finished the game, which was played in snowy conditions, having registered 20 shots, the most they have recorded in the Premier League this season, and produced arguably their best attacking performance of the season. Understandably, Arteta was delighted.

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He said in his post-match press conference: “It’s always tough to win away from home and the way we’ve done it, in a really convincing way in this difficult weather. But I’m really pleased, it’s three in a row in the last week, we talked about the importance of this week for us and to be able to win the three of them is really important.

“There were moments when I thought we were really good, both defensively and offensively. In the attacking phase, there were moments that were exactly what I want, exactly what we try to train. In other moments, we became a little bit sloppy when we thought that the game was won and it’s something we have to improve in general. But it’s close to what we want.


“The energy and the convincing momentum that you get from everybody that is involved is much more positive. I wasn’t that concerned with performances [during Arsenal’s recent winless run], we lost games that we were really unlucky and some was our own fault because we made some errors and we lacked some discipline at some moments.

“But you need to win football matches and this brings a different moment, energy and, as well, the players took the handbrake off and you can see they are more free to play.

“I’m so pleased because I thought in the final third, we looked so lively, there is a lot of movement, there is good energy, there is purpose, everyone is playing forward. It’s like we are freer to play and the understanding is being able to generate a lot of things there.”

Praise for Tierney

Kieran Tierney opened the scoring for Arsenal with a superb solo goal, continuing a recent run of impressive performances, and Arteta had nothing but praise for the left-back.

He added: “Since the moment that I joined the club and he went through his shoulder injury, I see a player with enormous talent, the perfect attitude and commitment and he is a joy to work with.

“I’m so happy for him for the goal he scored and everything that he’s put in to be better every day to be better for the team and the club. He had some issues to adapt, it was a challenge for him and we are trying to help him because the kid really deserves it.”

Allardyce on January transfer plans

The January transfer window opened at midnight on Saturday morning and with another winless game since arriving as manager at West Brom, Sam Allardyce is targeting new talent. However, he revealed recent changes due to Brexit have hampered his progress.

He told his post-match press conference: “This pandemic will be the hardest window I’ve ever worked in. No disrespect to the players here already because they’re all trying as hard as they can, but I do have to try and find better [players] to lift the squad and lift their confidence because that’s what has happened at every other club I’ve been at in the January window.

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“What we can do is get loans or short-term contracts on players that may be out there in Europe or in this country. I know we have one loan available in the UK and two in foreign countries, but as the rules have changed [due to Brexit], that’s a bit more difficult than it used to be. But we must try if possible to get a better player than we already have and are capable of almost going into the team immediately.

“I found three players already who were capable of coming here and they’re not allowed. It’s a shame, I won’t name the players, but they would have been a big help.

“But due to the regulations in terms of the permit, they were unable to come to this country whereas before, they would have. I have to look at that everywhere I can now to think ‘can he qualify?’, so it has made life a little bit more difficult.”

‘We must stop giving sloppy goals away’

Defeat to Arsenal means West Brom are now winless in six Premier League games, with Allardyce seeing 12 goals conceded in his first three home matches.

He said: “We’ve got to battle on as a team and try and do the things we need to do better than we’re doing now. That means first and foremost, stop giving sloppy goals away and we need to really get better at defending as a team as we’ve shown against the big boys. We’ve had a look at everybody, we’ve tried our best and played game after game, which is difficult to cope with in terms of training.

“But we need to be more resilient in terms of our defending and until we start getting clean sheets, we won’t get enough points to try and move up the table because we don’t have any proven Premier League goalscorers in our squad.

“We’ve had huge games in a small period of time to make our decisions and we have to make them very quickly. It’s part of your experience to say ‘this is the only way we can play now’, so we have to get on the training pitch when we can and start putting that into place.

“When we go attacking and lose the ball, we forget how to defend and as a result, are getting beaten by too many goals so we have to put that right and make sure we deliver a performance that will get us a result. That will start when we stop conceding goals.”

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