Brighton win lifts dark clouds over Arsenal

Alexandre Lacazette scoring with just his second touch since coming on as a substitute in Arsenal's 1-0 win over Brighton on Tuesday.
Alexandre Lacazette scoring with just his second touch since coming on as a substitute in Arsenal's 1-0 win over Brighton on Tuesday.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Consecutive Premier League wins for the first time since the opening two games of the season means Arsenal can enter the new year looking up the table with hope rather than over their shoulders.

Alexandre Lacazette came on in the second half to change the game, teeing up Bukayo Saka's pass with his first touch before scoring with his second to secure a 1-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday.

Defeat at Everton on Dec 19 had left them only four points above the drop zone after 14 top-flight games - their worst start to the season since 1974-75 - but six points since have given Mikel Arteta's side more breathing space.

A victory at strugglers West Bromwich Albion on Saturday can even signal a push into the top 10 and the Arsenal manager is hopeful the mood in the dressing room has changed for better.

"In this period, we know how much we needed the wins," Arteta said. "We had a really tough week and it wasn't that much about the performance, it was about the result. You need the results to start confidence and now with two wins, I think everyone is in a much better mood.

"The best medicine is wins - it's a different world and a different story. The picture looks much better at the moment. We need more consistency and to try to win again.

"We have managed through this period to maintain our team spirit and our cohesion. Sometimes, that is not easy to do, because obviously the frustration that comes out with defeats usually affects the team.

"Hopefully, now we can go on a run of games and be more positive for that."

Arteta also insisted that he never feared he had lost the backing of the board, despite the intense speculation over his position.

"Considering the context we're in now, the pandemic and the problems we've had recently, it's been quite a challenge," he said.

"I'm enjoying and suffering in some moments, but I have great people around me and a great organisation."

The Spaniard also praised Saka and Lacazette, Arsenal's top scorer this season with seven goals in all competitions, for their vital contributions.

England winger Saka, who made his international debut in October, has been a rare bright spark in Arsenal's turbulent campaign and Arteta is keen not to place the burden of expectations on the 19-year-old.

"I would like everybody to be cautious and let him be and let him develop. I think he's having the right progression," he said of the academy graduate.

"Hopefully, we can be the right coaches around him, be the right club to see the player that he can be in the future."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2020, with the headline 'Brighton win lifts dark clouds over Arsenal'. Subscribe