What Mikel Arteta said to Arsenal players at half-time to inspire comeback vs Aston Villa
Arsenal had to win the hard way against Aston Villa on Saturday as they were pegged back twice before winning 4-2 at Villa Park. Goals from Bukayo Saka, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Gabriel Martinelli and an own goal from former Gunners goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez moved the north Londoners back to the summit of the Premier League table.
Many felt that the trip to face Unai Emery’s side was a must-win game for Mikel Arteta and his players after suffering a setback in their title challenge earlier in the week. Manchester City went into the weekend above Arsenal after winning 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The Gunners have now reclaimed top spot after City dropped points in their 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest. Arsenal ended a run of three matches without a win in the Premier League and now turn their focus to preparations for a tough test against Leicester City next weekend.
Following the dramatic win against Villa, Arteta has now revealed how he inspired his players to take three points from the match despite heading into half-time 2-1 down. The Arsenal boss told talkSPORT: “At half-time I had to tell them, ‘What I said a few days ago is not because I think something is different, you have to do it and the moment is now, after 45 minutes it’s gone’ and they really reacted.”
Asked if he told the squad they have to win at half-time, the Spaniard replied: “It’s now, it’s now, it’s now. After that, it’s looking at each other, ‘we should have done that’.
“We have to raise individual level and do the simple things right and play with much more purpose and quality. We are there, tomorrow we train, recover and go again – it’s going to be a long journey!”
When asked how the players reacted following the dramatic win, Arteta told BBC Sport: “It was absolutely bouncing because it was a big effort to play less than 72 hours ago after the game we had and after the result that morally is touching. I’m really pleased with the boys.”
Arteta will be hoping his players can go on a winning run after taking just one point from their last three matches before the game against Villa. One thing is for sure: there are plenty of twists and turns still to come in a title race that could go down to the wire.
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