LONDON: Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta praised French striker Alexandre Lacazette for ignoring a back injury to come off the bench and score the winner at Brighton & Hove Albion as the Londoners finally seemed to get the blend of youth and experience right.
Lacazette came on in the second half to change the game, teeing up teenage winger Bukayo Saka’s pass with his first touch before scoring with his second to secure a 1-0 win that ends a difficult year on a positive note for the Gunners.
“I think this is what all the managers dream for, to bring people from the bench and win you the game like he’s done tonight,” Arteta told reporters.
“I think he’s been in really good form in the last few weeks, he’s been scoring goals, he’s full of confidence. Today he had a sore back, he could not start the game. But he came on and won the game for us which is massively important,” he added.
Saka, who scored in Arsenal’s 3-1 Boxing Day win over Chelsea, was a constant threat as Arteta’s younger players gelled with their more experienced team mates enroute to victory.
“They need the right senior players amongst them to shine. I think they showed the most important quality, which is the personality to come to any ground and play with freedom and enjoy being a footballer,” Arteta said.
Having secured consecutive wins for the first time since September, the Spanish coach is hoping his side can kick on in the New Year.
“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,” Arteta explained.
“Hopefully now we can go on a run of games and be more positive for that.”