Mikel Arteta praises Arsenal’s resilience after Crystal Palace win


Mikel Arteta praised Arsenal’s fight in their season-opening 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, but admitted much more was demanded of his attackers.

The Gunners walked away with all three points at Selhurst Park thanks to a header from Gabriel Martinelli in the first half and a late own goal from Marc Guehi.

Arsenal dominated the initial exchanges, but the Eagles challenged Arteta’s side after the restart as the visitors failed to create opportunities in the second half in Gabriel Jesus’ league debut.

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“We have to be more ruthless for the purpose,” said Arteta.

“We had a situation to finish them better, even in the second half, but that has to come. We didn’t score many goals, we missed that real advantage.”

Still, the Gunners boss was pleased with his side’s overall effort, a marked improvement from their 2-0 loss to Brentford at the start of last season.

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Martinelli almost put Arsenal on the scoresheet early in the first half when the ball landed at his feet on the edge of the six-yard box, but the Brazilian’s effort sailed well wide.

The redemption came after he rose highest in the 20th minute to nod in the opener for a busy goal.

Some expected this to be the start of Jesus in the spotlight, but it was fellow debutant William Saliba who shone brightest in a brilliant rear corner, frustrating attempt after attempt by the Eagles to create chances.

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William Saliba slips to tackle Wilfried Zaha (Adam Davy/PA)

(PA wire)

“You can’t really see that,” said his impressed boss.

“At 21 in the Premier League, against these physical players and resolving the situation the way he did it, with that composure, that composure and that presence. Great credit to the boy.”

The match was decided when a cross from Bukayo Saka hit the hapless Guehi’s head in the 85th minute.

Arteta was finally delighted to walk out winners under the intimidating Friday night lights in Selhurst Park, looking a very different side from the one who had fallen 3-0 to the Eagles in their last encounter in South London.

“I’m really happy,” he added. “Three points and a clean sheet against a very difficult opponent and a very difficult place if they have the people, and as we expected, we would have difficult periods during the game.

“You don’t win here without resilience. We experienced that last season, we started very differently than last season when we were here.

“Building that mindset and finding a way to get through those moments, keep a clean sheet in this competition, will be vital to our success, so hopefully that will build some confidence in the team as well.

Patrick Vieira saw his match get beaten (Adam Davy/PA)

(PA wire)

Eagles boss Patrick Vieira, meanwhile, mourned the one who escaped.

The hosts’ best chance came via Eberechi Eze, who got into a one-on-one after getting an accurate pass from Wilfried Zaha but scraping his effort.

“Today I think the biggest difference is that we didn’t take that chance or the chances we created to get at least a point tonight,” said Vieira.

“We had some really good momentum at times, but the story of the game is that we didn’t score that goal to get back into the game. That’s what the frustration is about today.”

Earlier this week, the Palace boss admitted he had “too few numbers” and saw gaps all over the field.

Whether or not solutions come from the transfer window or from within, he said, will come down to the coffers – which will have been boosted by the departure of Christian Benteke to DC United just before Friday’s game.

“We are always looking to improve the team,” Vieira added. “If we find the right players with the right budget, we will try.

“If not, there are players here who will grow during the season, players who are willing to work hard for the club, and we have to keep challenging those players.”


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