Mikel Arteta: Arsenal manager takes praise after ‘special day’ in win over Spurs

Emile Smith Rowe celebrates
Mikel Arteta said Arsenal “had the exact mix of senior players and youth” in the win over Spurs

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta hailed a “special day” after his side dominated local rivals Spurs in the North London derby.

His side gave backing to a bold pre-match prediction from ex-Arsenal defender Gael Clichy that Arteta “could be the next Arsene Wenger”.

The Gunners ran riot with first-half strikes from Emile Smith-Rowe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka, while Spurs replied through Son Heung-min.

“Today is one example of what we can do,” said Arteta, 39. “It’s a special day.”

He added: “This win is for the fans. They were there when we needed their support and now we are creating that connection with the supporters.”

Arsenal endured a difficult start to the season, including a 5-0 thrashing at Man City, as they lost their opening three games.

Since the international break, though, they have turned their fortunes around with three straight wins.

“I think in life you have to show gratitude,” added Arteta. “These people have stood by this club and these players. This win is for them.”

Goalscorer Smith Rowe said: “It’s probably the best day of my life. To have my family here as well, it’s a special feeling.”

He also praised the influence of Arteta, saying: “He just tells us to keep calm, the fans give us so much confidence as well.”

From disjointed to dazzling

Clichy – who played under Wenger for eight years – worked with Arteta when he was first-team coach at Manchester City and believes the Spaniard has all the qualities to build a legacy at Arsenal.

“Arteta has so much knowledge and he had the luxury to learn from Pep [Guardiola],” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I really believe in the long term he could be the next Arsene Wenger. He is quite young, and I truly believe, given time, he will prove people wrong.”

Wenger was in charge of Arsenal between 1996 and 2018, winning three Premier Leagues and seven FA Cups for the Gunners.

In 2004, he also became the first – and only – manager to lead a side through an entire Premier League campaign unbeaten.

Arteta, in his first full managerial role, had an outstanding end to his first part-season in charge at the Emirates, leading the Gunners to a 2020 FA Cup triumph and beating Manchester City and Chelsea in the process.

But last year was disappointing, with five successive wins to finish the campaign disguising a disjointed season.

Arsenal ended up in eighth and are without European football for the first time in 25 seasons.

Even this performance must be put into context for, as good as Arsenal were, Spurs were abject.

Speaking on Sky Sports, former Liverpool boss Graeme Souness said: “Spurs in that first half were shocking, Arsenal were fabulous.

“But Spurs? Shocking. I was surprised how bad they were.”

This win takes Arsenal above Spurs – who won their first three and have now lost three in a row – but they are still only 10th and look a distance behind frontrunners Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea.

October offers an attractive run of fixtures and perhaps these will offer more clarity on who the real Arsenal are – and if Arteta can provide further evidence to support Clichy’s claim.

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