Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was left baffled by referee Mike Dean's decision not to dismiss James McArthur in his side's 2-2 Premier League draw with Crystal Palace, despite the aid of VAR.

Alexandre Lacazette struck a dramatic stoppage-time goal to rescue a point for Arsenal after Palace had recovered from 1-0 down to lead 2-1 in the dying stages of Patrick Vieira's return to his former club on Monday.

However, Arteta believes visitors Palace should have been reduced to 10 men just before half-time when McArthur caught Bukayo Saka with a late foot as they competed for an aerial ball.

Despite the hosts being incensed by McArthur's challenge, the Palace midfielder received a yellow card from Dean, while England international Saka was forced to withdraw from the action at the interval due to injury,

Gunners boss Arteta was adamant that the incident warranted further punishment, especially with the assistance of video technology.

"It's a clear red card. [McArthur had] no intention to play the ball," he told BBC Sport. "I don't know how with VAR, he hasn't been sent off."

While generally disappointed with Arsenal's performance, Arteta praised the resilience they demonstrated to ensure a share of the spoils.

Arsenal made two errors leading to goals in a Premier League game for the first time since April 2019 against Wolves and for the first time at the Emirates since December 2017 versus Manchester United.

"After the [opening] goal, we didn't manage the game well enough," he added. "We didn't have composure or control. It [the dip in performance] was for a long period, which is worrying.

"We started better in the second half. We had more control, and then we gave the ball away two times for the two goals.

"The most positive thing is we kept going. They kept believing until the end; that's how we managed to get a point."

Lacazette, who grabbed that late equaliser, also praised the hosts' character, while paying tribute to the home crowd for providing much-needed energy.

"At the end, we could draw. The main thing was to avoid the loss," said the French forward, whose last four Premier League goals at the Emirates have all come in London derbies.

"We wanted to win; we started well but then stopped playing. I think this is something we have to work on in the future. He [Arteta] told us when we play well, the fans are with us. This is what I tried to bring. 

"When the fans are with us, it gives us players energy. We need to give them what they want. We showed we have character. Even when we are down, we don't give up."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had opened the scoring for Arsenal – the Gunners star netting in three consecutive home Premier League games for the first time since September 2019.

Since making his Arsenal debut in February 2018, Aubameyang has scored 91 goals in 156 club appearances. The only Premier League players to score more in all competitions during this period are Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (109) and Tottenham forward Harry Kane (99).

Mikel Arteta is still demanding more improvements as Arsenal continue their recovery from a poor start to the season and prepare to face Crystal Palace.

The Gunners were winless in their first three Premier League games but responded by winning their next three before a draw with Brighton and Hove Albion took them to five games unbeaten in all competitions.

Initial calls for Arteta's sacking have somewhat faded away, at least temporarily, as Arsenal look to defeat the Eagles for just the second time in seven top-flight meetings between the pair.

Arteta, who was named September's Premier League Manager of the Month, has been impressed in the upturn in form but still wants more from his side as the domestic season returns.

"We managed to turn things around a little bit [during the previous international break] but there is still a big margin for improvement," Arteta told reporters at Thursday's pre-match news conference.

"But we got important results that were very needed in that moment and we just need to think about doing things better, progressing up the table and focus on winning our next match.

"It is the opportunity that this game gives you and you have to stand up, keep believing, work hard, be critical and analyse things to try to change them and improve them. Football always gives you another opportunity.

"When you're in a good moment, you want to carry on playing as quickly as possible. When the confidence is there, and the momentum is there, you want to continue, but again, we knew that we had to stop after that game.

"[We knew] that we had to get as many points as possible, and we did well enough to do that and be in a different position than a month ago, and now we have to just improve it."

Arsenal have mustered just five goals from their opening seven league games – their fewest at this stage since 1986-87 – and Arteta implored his side to improve their finishing.

"It is certainly something we can do better and improve in our efficiency in front of goal, and when we get that balance right it will obviously help us to win more game," he continued.

Patrick Vieira, who made 279 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, returns to his former club with Palace – becoming just the fourth man to play for the Gunners and manage against them in the competition.

Arteta – aware of Vieira's legendary status, with only five players appearing more in the league for the north London club – expects a warm welcome for the former France midfielder from the Emirates Stadium crowd.

"He is an Arsenal legend and I hope he gets the reception he deserves for what he did for the club, not only as a player but also what he transmitted as a person," he added. 

"He was a captain of the club in the most successful era in the last many years and it is great to have him back."

Emile Smith Rowe has praised Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta for giving young players like himself and Bukayo Saka confidence as the pair look to improve their production in front of goal.

Smith Rowe (21) and Saka (20) were both on target against Andorra during the international break, the former with the Under-21s side and the latter with the senior squad.

Saka scored the second goal of a 5-0 rout on October 9, while Smith Rowe slotted home the only goal of the game two days later after Rhian Brewster's sending-off had reduced the Young Lions to 10 men.

The pair rank in the top four for both expected goals and expected assists across all competitions among Arsenal players to have played at least 300 minutes this season.

Smith Rowe largely credits Arteta for their development, with senior Gunners stars also taking the time to help them out.

"[Arteta] has spoken to us and given us so much confidence to stay calm," said Smith Rowe.

"[Saka and I] know we're going to be getting into these positions. Because we're both young players we've got to stay as calm as possible and just focus on the goal really.

"We've been practising a lot in training, after training and we get the support from the experienced players in the team as well, they're always helping us. It's really good at Arsenal, we're really happy with the help we're getting."

New England U21s head coach Lee Carsley had special praise for Smith Rowe, believing that the attacking midfielder – who has frequently played on the left for Arsenal – has the ability to score, create and beat his man.

"With any wide player they are always judged on goals and assists and Emile has got the ability to do both," said Carsley.

"I've seen him in training, the way he finds the corners and finishes very calmly, he finishes like a centre forward at times and the opposite to that is that he has got that last pass which is really important.

"That's why I'm keen on getting him in really attacking positions more often, the higher up we can get him and the more we can get him one-vs-one he'll create a lot of problems like he does at Arsenal."

The Gunners will hope both their young Hale End graduates can make a positive impact when Crystal Palace visit Emirates Stadium on October 18 as Premier League action resumes.

Mikel Arteta admitted Arsenal did not deserve to win after their goalless draw with Brighton and Hove Albion in Saturday's Premier League clash.

The Gunners' four-match winning streak was halted by the high-flying Seagulls as both sides extended their unbeaten runs to five matches in all competitions.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the left-hand post with a first-half header and Emile Smith-Rowe went close in the second half in an otherwise timed showing from Arsenal.

Head coach Arteta says the Gunners must raise their game after a frustrating showing at the Amex Stadium.

"I was more concerned about the way we played," Arteta told the BBC's Match of the Day.

"We didn't make enough right decision, every time there was a duel where we could escape pressure and attack open spaces we came up short and against this structure, we had to do better.

"Aubameyang's was probably the only open situation in the first half, and we were unlucky not to score it. I don't think we deserved to win the game, we have to take the draw with the performance we had today and improve."

However, September has brought a change in fortunes for Arsenal and Arteta has been pleased with his side's response to their poor start to the season.

"We have conceded one goal in the last five games which is really positive," he continued. "It is a really positive block of games that have helped us change the situation."

Aaron Ramsdale, who signed from Sheffield United in August, was only required to make two saves in a shot-shy encounter to secure his third clean sheet in four top-flight appearances for his new side.

In the entirety of the 2020-21 campaign with United, the goalkeeper managed only five clean sheets.

Ramsdale believes the Gunners are heading in the right direction as he prepares to join up with the England squad.

"It is three clean sheets out of four games, it’s not all doom and gloom," Ramsdale said to Sky Sports.

"It’s a gritty result; we could have easily crumbled and let Brighton get the win, but we showed heart and passion to be resolute.

"We have had a tough start, and no one is hiding from that. We have turned the corner with four good results; you can see a structure of a team and one that is gelling on the pitch."

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta believes the club's "significant" close-season business laid strong foundations and going "backwards to go forwards" has created stability in their project.

Six new faces arrived at the Emirates Stadium before the transfer window slammed shut on August 31, with Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Nuno Tavares, Albert Lokonga and Martin Odegaard signed to bolster the squad.

Arsenal started badly, however, losing each of their first three Premier League matches without scoring amid an injury crisis before the first international break.

Since then, however, Arsenal have won three games in a row, including an emphatic 3-1 victory in the north London derby over rivals Tottenham, and Arteta feels the Gunners' long-term project is finally starting to bear fruit.

“Momentum is down to confidence, it’s down to believing in what you do and really feeling it and trying to embrace it and adding something every week, making sure that the steps are forwards," Arteta told Sky Sports.

“In every project, that is impossible to happen every single week and sometimes you have to go a little bit backwards to go forwards. You have to realise that and not lose perspective.

“The changes we made this summer were probably the most significant that we have made since I’ve been here. Now you start to get a sense that we are all on the same page.

“Any project needs the right foundations and now we have clarity in what we want to do. We start to have some stability."

Once the squad gels completely, the Arsenal boss feels his team will achieve an even higher level of performance.

“We have to start unity, which is a big part of it," Arteta continued. "When that happens, the better the decisions are, everything is more calm and settled and things start to happen.”

The Gunners face Brighton and Hove Albion away next, as they bid to extend their winning streak and go into the next international break on a high.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says Granit Xhaka will be a "big, big loss" but insists the Gunners will cope in the absence of the midfielder.

Xhaka has been ruled out for up to three months after suffering a medial knee ligament injury during Sunday's victory over north London rivals Tottenham.

The Switzerland international sustained the blow during an accidental collision with Lucas Moura, and subsequently limped off to be replaced by Albert Sambi Lokonga.

Xhaka is likely to miss the remainder of 2021, although the club confirmed he will not require surgery on the injury.

This is the latest setback for the 29-year-old, who had just returned from a three-match suspension following his red card at Manchester City last month, while he also contracted COVID-19 while on international duty with Switzerland recently.

Arteta is confident the midfielder will use the setback to his advantage, but is adamant there is enough quality within the squad to deal with his absence.

"Obviously, it's really bad news personally for Granit," the head coach said. 

"He's a big, big loss. We're going to lose him for a while. We'll try to keep him as close as possible to the team. 

"He's a strong man; he will use this time to focus on other things, and I'm sure he will be back in the right place when he's back.

"We are here to help him, and I'm sure we'll find some ways around it because we have some really good players who can do the job."

With a trip to Brighton and Hove Albion coming up on October 2, Arteta could opt to revert to the 4-1-4-1 system he utilised in the 1-0 win over Burnley that saw Thomas Partey operate as a lone anchor, with Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard in front of him.

Should the Spaniard decide to bring in a like-for-like replacement for Xhaka instead, he has Lokonga, Mohamed Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles to choose from.

It made Thierry Henry and Tony Adams happy, and Mikel Arteta on the touchline was so excited by it all that he probably expended more energy than the Tottenham midfield.

So bravo Arsenal, bravo. A 3-1 win – their 600th in the Premier League – over Tottenham looks great on paper and proved rather fetching on grass, too, the Gunners picking off their north London neighbours at will, particularly in an embarrassingly one-sided first half.

But in essence, this was all about keeping up with the Joneses. Any significance from a sunny Sunday afternoon's Emirates Stadium stroll can only be gauged by what Arsenal, and indeed Spurs, do next.

Successive 1-0 wins over Norwich City and Burnley kept the wolves from Arteta's door after Arsenal's slow start to the Premier League season, and this derby success was received like they used to savour championships in these parts.

Of course, there is a temptation to look at this result without a dispassionate perspective, to rave about Emile Smith Rowe, who was excellent, and Bukayo Saka, whose season perhaps starts now. The young English pair both scored and both had an assist, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rather than an imposter.

Record scorer Henry, sitting in the stand alongside Spotify billionaire Daniel Ek, was all smiles and giggles, while former skipper Adams, in the Sky Sports studio, gushed about "a wonderful, wonderful first-half display". The Gunners gentry were grinning, dreaming it might be the start of something.

"I'm excited guys, I'm excited," Adams said, almost apologetically. "I was absolutely delighted the kids took the game to Tottenham."

Even Gary Neville said Arsenal had been "fantastic", and in many ways they were.


SPURS TAKE A HIDING

Smith Rowe wandered untracked into the heart of the Spurs penalty area to drive home Saka's low centre for the 12th-minute opener; then Aubameyang put the finishing touch to a glorious Arsenal counter-attack, Tierney to Aubameyang, on to the galloping Smith Rowe with a delicious flick, then back to Aubameyang for an unstoppable finish into the far right corner.

Tottenham were torn apart again in the 34th minute as Saka bundled his way through a desperate Spurs defence before driving a shot across Lloris.

Harry Kane had given the ball away at the other end of the pitch and dashed back to try to make amends, only to nudge Saka's attempted pass handily back into the path of his England colleague, who pounced on the chance.

Smith Rowe, at 21 years and 60 days, firstly became the youngest player to score and assist in a Premier League north London derby since Cesc Fabregas in September 2007.

Then Saka took that record outright from Fabregas, 21 days after his 20th birthday. Saka is also the youngest Englishman to score a league goal for Arsenal against Spurs since a 19-year-old Stewart Robson at Highbury in April 1984.

Son Heung-min got Spurs a goal in the 79th minute, ending their 307-minute goalless run, and Lucas Moura hit the bar in stoppage time, but this was a hiding for the visitors.

"They weren't competitive in any shape or form," said Graeme Souness, incandescent.

"Arsenal would wish they could play against a team like Spurs were in the first 45 minutes every week. Spurs were so poor."


KANE DRAWS A BLANK AGAIN

Kane went for a Hail Mary shot from 28 yards and the Arsenal crowd gleefully jeered as the ball cleared the bar by several yards. The England captain then headed wide from a corner and another roar went up.

Aaron Ramsdale pushed aside a Kane shot that may have been drifting wide as Spurs showed more spark after the break, before the Tottenham talisman scooped a shot wide after running in behind the Arsenal defence for the first time.

He cannot buy a Premier League goal this season. Five games in and he has yet to get off the mark, but at least he had five attempts here, more than doubling his tally for the campaign. It was 2016 when he last went on a five-game goalless streak.

Aubameyang answered his own critics in style and has now scored in all three of his home Premier League games against Spurs, but Kane only fuelled the arguments of those questioning his performance this season. Dele Alli was hauled off after 45 wasted minutes, with Sky pundit Neville saying: "He needs to sort himself out."


SPURS NEED TO CHANGE THEIR TUNE

Spurs have conceded three goals in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since September 2003, and after the derby dismay against Crystal Palace and Chelsea, here was another savage reminder of their shortcomings.

They are only the second team in Premier League history to win their first three games of a season and then lose the next three, following the Everton team of 1993-94 who finished in 17th place.

So for one day at least, we might say Tottenham are in dire trouble and the future looks bright for Arsenal, despite them sitting alongside one another in mid-table.

And, of course, the CEO of Spotify fancies Arsenal. He loved the 80s mix, the 90s mix and the 2000s mix, and senses the 2020s mix could have a rocking soundtrack too, bouncing to the beat of Saka, Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard.

Tottenham, for now it seems, are lacking punk, lacking soul, stuck on a sad-song, life-sucks loop.

Mikel Arteta revelled in Arsenal's North London derby win over Tottenham but preached the need for consistency following their superb 3-1 victory.

Goals from Emile Smith Rowe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka put Arsenal in a commanding 3-0 lead at half-time.

It was a position Tottenham never looked likely to recover from, though Son Heung-min did score a late consolation for Spurs, Arsenal leapfrogging their rivals in the table with a third successive victory having started the season with three straight defeats.

The Gunners sit above Spurs on goal difference yet, while the manner of the triumph delighted Arteta, he wants to see such performances on a regular basis from a team four points adrift of the top four.

Asked what he liked most about Arsenal's display, Arteta told Sky Sports: "The determination, the conviction and connection with our people.

"Today is one example of what we're trying to do, now we have to be consistent."

On the rapid turnaround in fortunes after conceding nine goals without reply in their opening three defeats, Arteta told his post-match media conference: "That’s the beauty of this game and the danger of this game as well. It changes so quickly at both ends.

"You always have to be alert and seek improvements which I think we can still do.

"This is an Arsenal team that they have won a game today and their manager saw a lot of things that he feels very related to. I'm proud of the way we played.

"It was one of the nicest feelings I've had in this stadium."

The feel-good factor for Arteta was slightly dented by an injury to Granit Xhaka, who was hurt in the build-up to Son's goal for Tottenham.

And the early signs point to the Gunners having to cope without the Switzerland midfielder going forward.

Arteta added: "I'm pretty worried because it doesn't look very positive at the moment."

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says "everything can happen" with regards to Alexandre Lacazette's future ahead of the north London derby against Tottenham on Sunday.

Lacazette's contract expires at the end of this season and the striker has been linked with the likes of Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla.

Gunners manager Arteta is unsure whether Lacazette, who has scored two goals in three matches this season, will stay at the club.

The Spaniard said: "We discuss that internally and we discuss that with him. It's a long season ahead of us, everything can happen, everything is open."

Granit Xhaka is available to return against Arsenal's fierce rivals at the Emirates Stadium this weekend after serving a three-match ban.

Arteta has a fully fit squad to choose from and says Xhaka has looked sharp in training, despite the midfielder having also tested positive for coronavirus while on international duty with Switzerland this month.

"He came back and he was flying [in training], because he really looks after himself," Arteta said. "He gives you the maximum and the best possible attitude to compete and win matches."

While Arsenal have won three consecutive games in all competitions without conceding a goal, Spurs have lost their previous two Premier League matches 3-0.

Arteta does not believe it is necessarily a good time to play Tottenham, who have won just one of their past 28 away league games against Arsenal.

He said: "When the ball is rolling I think we all forget where we are, we're just trying to compete to win that football match, we won't be any different from them."

Arteta added: "We are playing at home, we're going to have our people right behind us, they're going to create an incredible atmosphere that you have to be able to enjoy, empower and make the most of it."

The former Arsenal midfielder says his players are well aware of the magnitude of the game.

"I will make sure that they understand what it means, the history between the two clubs and what it means emotionally to all of our supporters," Arteta said. "You have to play the game with a slightly different skin, because there is a little bit more at stake."

December 2, 2018. In the 56th minute of Unai Emery's first north London derby in charge of Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang curled a sensational first-time finish beyond Hugo Lloris to level the scores at 2-2.

Aubameyang's strike – his second goal of the game after a first-half penalty to open the scoring – sent the home faithful into raptures at Emirates Stadium, and the Gabon forward went on to tee up Lucas Torreira to score Arsenal's final goal in a 4-2 victory.

Having arrived from Borussia Dortmund in January of that year, Aubameyang scored 22 Premier League goals in 2018-19, sharing the league's Golden Boot award with Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

It was a tally he matched the following season, trailing the competition's top scorer Jamie Vardy by one, but after prolonged contract negotiations finally resulted in Aubameyang signing a new three-year contract last September, his form has hit a wall.

His league total dropped to just 10 goals last season, as Aubameyang netted just three times prior to the turn of the year.

Despite featuring in each of Arsenal's league games so far this season, Aubameyang only has one goal, which came in the 1-0 win over Norwich City earlier this month. He had six attempts in that match, getting just two on target.

At 32, it seems Aubameyang's prime is now behind him, though could Sunday's north London derby with Tottenham be the catalyst to spark his form and really get Arsenal's season up and running?

Using Opta data, Stats Perform assesses if there is a way back to the top for Aubameyang, or is the end of the road approaching?

 

Shoot on sight not always the right call

Aubameyang's second goal in that derby in December 2018 was a moment of magic, as he caught Lloris out with a sensational first-time strike from outside the box.

However, the shoot-on-sight policy is not seeming to be an effective fix for Aubameyang's fading form.

Aubameyang has at least scored this season and has mustered nine attempts in the league, but those efforts have had an average worth of 0.14 xG (expected goals) – the lowest mark of his Arsenal career.

Given the one successful strike – against Norwich – was a goal-line finish worth 0.96 xG on its own, the second-best chance of the entire Premier League season by that metric, it is easy to paint a picture of otherwise ambitious shooting habits from Aubameyang. His remaining eight shots have had a combined xG of 0.39 – or 0.05 per shot – signifying they came from chances where a player is highly unlikely to score.

At odds with struggling Spurs talisman Harry Kane, who has had just four attempts so far this season and has recorded just 7.5 per cent of his touches in the opposition box, Aubameyang is taking a career-high 17.1 per cent of his touches in the opposing area, yet the Tottenham number 10 has matched his three shots on target so far.

The Laca factor

Arsenal have been blessed in recent seasons, with two – on their day – top-quality goalscorers to call on in the form of Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Though at times, that may well have resulted in both players having to compromise.

The latter has made only one league appearance so far this term, replacing Aubameyang in the second half of Arsenal's 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City last month, and there has at times been an issue with fitting both strikers into the team.

Aubameyang has often been deployed wide to accommodate Lacazette, who in turn has at times played deeper or had to settle for a place on the bench in order to fit his fellow striker into a central berth.

Since Aubameyang arrived at the club, he and Lacazette have played in 92 of the same games, with the Gunners recording 40 wins, 20 draws and 32 defeats.

That win rate of 43.5 per cent is significantly less than the 55 per cent success record from matches where one of the strikers did not play (22 wins from 40 such games).

It would suggest the way forward for Arsenal now is to stick with one or the other. Lacazette outscored Aubameyang in the league last season, though as the Gunners skipper the latter is seemingly ahead in the pecking order.

Arteta not helping?

Both Emery and successor Mikel Arteta wanted to develop a style that focused on playing out from the back, though given pace is Aubameyang's main asset, it would seem a direct approach may well be the optimal way to get the best out of the attacker.

Arguably Arteta's best games as Arsenal boss came in the 2019-20 FA Cup semi-final and final, with Aubameyang scoring a double in both matches to help the Gunners claim the trophy.

Aubameyang's pace was crucial, with his second goal in the 2-0 semi-final win over City coming at the culmination of a run from the left, the forward latching onto Kieran Tierney's ball before finishing under Ederson.

A similar trend followed in the final – Aubameyang winning a penalty by isolating Cesar Azpilicueta in that left channel, and he converted from 12 yards to restore parity before finishing deftly for a second-half winner.

It seemed Arteta was utilising this tactic more in his first half-season in charge. In a campaign shared between Emery and Arteta, Aubameyang had seven shots from fast breaks in the Premier League, though he only scored one. He had five such attempts the previous season, though only managed three across 2020-21.

Aubameyang also saw his touches in the opposition box drop off significantly last term, from 152 in 2019-20 to 125, while he had 149 in Emery's only full season in charge.

The amount of shots Aubameyang is taking has also dropped from season to season, from 94 under Emery, to 93 the following campaign, to just 57 last term.

While he outperformed his expected goals value (14.75) by some way in 2019-20, suggesting he finished some difficult chances, an xG of 10.22 last season seemingly reflects where Aubameyang is at.

However, a 7.81 xG on target (xGOT) score, which rates the level of his shooting rather than the quality of the chances, hints the former Saint-Etienne man's finishes were not the best, and may suggest some poor goalkeeping contributed to his league total. Compare this to 2019-20, when Aubameyang's xGOT outperformed his xG value, and it points to a striker on the wane, who is perhaps not being helped by slower build-up play.

Sunday's match could be crucial for Arteta, whose team have finally picked up victories after heading into the international break at the bottom of the table. For Aubameyang, it is a chance to prove he still belongs among the league's elite strikers.

Mikel Arteta is backing his kid captains to lead Arsenal out of the gloom as the Gunners launch their quest for EFL Cup silverware.

After a poor Premier League start, Arsenal have strung together 1-0 wins over Norwich City and Burnley, with Arteta pinpointing Martin Odegaard as a key factor behind their improvement.

The Gunners had lost each of their first three top-flight games, but confidence is growing before their first meeting with AFC Wimbledon in the cup on Wednesday.

Arsenal have only failed to go beyond the third round of the competition in one of the last 18 seasons.

Odegaard, who made his move permanent from Real Madrid after a loan spell at Emirates Stadium, scored the winner against Burnley last time out.

Arteta hailed the 22-year-old for the difference he is making, as well as highlighting the importance of fellow young midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga, who turns 22 in October.

Experienced striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remains Arsenal skipper, but the team now have others with priceless captaincy experience.

"I think we are building some leadership in the group," Arteta said. "It’s a really young group, with a lot of players under 23.

"Martin is the captain of the [Norway] national team and Sambi was the captain at Anderlecht.

"Martin has this capacity to do that with his talent, taking the ball in moments where others probably refuse to, but as well with his attitude, his rhythm and the way he presses and puts people under pressure. He's probably the first to do it.

"I was really impressed with Auba [Aubameyang] as well – I think his rhythm and high pressing was fantastic."

The last lower-league team to beat Arsenal in the EFL Cup were Walsall in 1983, and this is the first time AFC Wimbledon have reached the third round.

But Arteta insisted his focus remains on one game at a time, despite an expected one-sided affair on Wednesday when fringe first-team players are likely to be involved.

"These games are like any other game, an opportunity for anybody to show that he deserves to be in the team and we are wrong," Arteta said, quoted on the Arsenal website.

"Focus, demand the highest standards, prepare the same way or even better.

"There is a lot of coaching now going on around the team. Young players are starting to talk and communicate, and that facilitates a lot of things in the defensive phase.

"After the difficult start that we had in many different aspects, when you start to win two games, you can win the third one. You get more momentum, more confidence, everybody's back, and then you start to create a different feeling."

Mikel Arteta was impressed by the fighting spirit from Arsenal in a 1-0 Premier League win at Burnley.

The Gunners secured back-to-back victories to double their points tally courtesy of Martin Odegaard's sublime first-half free-kick at Turf Moor on Saturday.

Burnley were flat in the first half but applied pressure after the break, and they were awarded a penalty when Aaron Ramsdale was adjudged to have upended Matej Vydra 20 minutes from time.

Referee Anthony Taylor reversed that decision after being advised to check the pitchside monitor by the VAR.

Arsenal stood firm to win consecutive top-flight games 1-0 for the first time since December 2014 and boss Arteta was impressed with the way they dug in, but knows there is plenty of room for improvement.

He told BBC Match of the Day: "It was a hard-fought victory at a really tough place.

"You have to be ready for a fight. In the first half we had some really good periods when we were really dominant and should have scored more goals. In the second half we gave the ball away cheaply too many times.

"We have players who are not at their strength playing in this type of game, but they did their best and we got the win. I'm very proud of them defensively and I'm really pleased with the win.

"It's two wins in a row, two clean sheets. Let's go again. We have a lot to catch up."

Arteta was in no doubt referee Taylor was right to overturn the decision against Ramsdale, who is the first goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in his first three appearances for Arsenal since Wojciech Szczesny from 2009 to 2010.

The Spaniard said: "The assistant was saying straight away it's not a penalty. You have to overturn that."

Mikel Arteta hailed Arsenal's response to their poor start and warned there must be no let-up as they travel to Burnley on Saturday.

Arsenal avoided an unwanted club record of four defeats in their first four Premier League games thanks to a 1-0 win over Norwich City last weekend, scoring their first top-flight goal of the season.

Arteta's side now look ahead to Burnley, who they are unbeaten against in their last nine away league games, their last defeat at Turf Moor coming in 1973.

The Gunners manager is full of confidence following the learning curve that he has experienced at the start of the 2021-22 campaign.

"The boys were happy because we experienced a reaction of the fans towards the team and winning the first match, getting out of the blocks in the Premier League, it was a big part of our next moment," Arteta told a news conference.

"Now we have to put a run together and we know how much we need the results and the performances will lead to that.

"The way that everybody around me responded is the way that I responded and that's why it has been fine. It's tough because you want to see something different.

"But what you want is not always what happens. Things happen for a reason and maybe what is happening had to happen and it is going to be really good for the club. Now we have to believe.

 

"I can really see the light. I'm telling you I'm very positive most of the time. I've seen the light and I can see bright lights. There can be bumps in the road within that light, but I can see a lot of light."

Arsenal also opted to utilise new goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale against Norwich after signing him from Sheffield United in the transfer window, leaving Bernd Leno on the bench.

Indeed, Ramsdale has kept a clean sheet in both of his appearances so far in all competitions and he could become the first Arsenal goalkeeper since Wojciech Szczesny in 2010 to record a trio of shutouts in his first three starts.

Leno's demotion to the bench in recent weeks has led to reports that the Germany goalkeeper is unsettled, but Arteta assured that the competition is healthy.

"Aaron [Ramsdale] has come here to try to make us better and I decided to play him on the day, that's all," Arteta said.

"It is the same in every position. We want them to make each other better. We are competing against our opponents, we are not competing against each other here.

"We are trying to raise the level of the team and the level of the club.

"Bernd [Leno] should be disappointed, and he should support his team-mates as they all have with him. That's exactly what he's done."

It just had to be, did it not? Cristiano Ronaldo, back at Old Trafford, of course he would get on the scoresheet.

Ronaldo netted not once, but twice in United's 4-1 defeat of Newcastle United on Saturday, announcing his return to the Premier League in style.

Meanwhile, a player who has established himself as one of the possible heirs to the Ronaldo (and Lionel Messi) throne at the pinnacle of the game reached a century of goals in the competition.

And after their worst start in generations, Arsenal finally found a way to win.

Here are some of the more curious Opta facts from the latest round of games.


Age is just a number for evergreen Ronaldo

Aged 36 year and 218 days, Ronaldo became the oldest player to score a Premier League double in over a decade.

The last player of more advancing years to do so? Well, another of the league's greats, of course. That being Graham Alexander of Burnley, who scored twice in a match against Hull City in April 2010 at the age of 38 years and 182 days. 

On the same day as Alexander was leading Burnley to a 4-1 win over the Tigers, Ronaldo played his second LaLiga Clasico. Real Madrid lost 2-0, following on from Barcelona's 5-0 victory earlier in the season.

Back to Old Trafford on Saturday, where Newcastle's dismal run continued. They have only managed one win at the Theatre of Dreams in their last 27 league attempts, while Steve Bruce, a former United stalwart, has lost 12 of his 13 games at his old stomping ground as a visiting manager, with his teams scoring just six goals over that run.

Ronaldo's gap of 12 years and 124 days between goals is the second-longest between two strikes by the same player in Premier League history, after Matt Jackson, who went 13 years and 187 days in between netting for Everton and Wigan Athletic respectively.

The Portugal superstar also broke Damien Delaney's record (11y 155d) for the biggest gap between Premier League appearances, with Ronaldo turning out for Manchester United again 12 years and 118 days since his previous game in May 2009.

Paul Pogba stands out on his own at the top of the assist charts with seven to his name already. He is the only player to have recorded as many as 10 assists in the Premier League in 2021, while his tally across the opening four games is the most any player has registered in the first four games of a Premier League season.

Mo moves into the 100 club

Liverpool's 3-0 win over Leeds United was somewhat marred by a horrid injury for Harvey Elliott. But the Reds were nevertheless convincing winners, with Mohamed Salah opening the scoring with his 100th Premier League goal.

Salah has reached his century in 162 games, with only four players getting there quicker. His team also moved onto a century in terms of attempts on goal across their four league games so far this season.

Their tally of 30 shots was quite remarkable, though Jurgen Klopp will want an improvement on the 10 per cent conversion rate. 

Sadio Mane had a game-leading 10 shots, yet only two of those hit the target – the Senegal star finally scoring in second-half stoppage time. It was the most attempts he has ever had in a Premier League game, and more than any other player has managed in any match so far this season (Romelu Lukaku having had eight for Chelsea against Arsenal last month).

Villa left reeling by Rom yet again

There must have been a collective sigh of relief around Villa Park when, as Aston Villa were preparing for life back in the top flight, Lukaku left the Premier League to join Serie A giants Inter.

But now the Belgian has returned to England and, as he has a knack of doing, back to finding the net against the poor old Villans.

He scored twice in Chelsea's 3-0 win on Saturday, his first goals at Stamford Bridge for any team, in what was his 15th appearance at the ground.

Lukaku has now scored in each of his last six Premier League appearances against Villa (eight goals) – only against West Ham has he had a longer run of scoring in consecutive games against a specific opponent in the competition (seven, between 2013 and 2016).

Arteta finally gets off the ground

The pressure might well have been too much had bottom-of-the-pile Arsenal failed to beat Norwich City on Saturday, but fortunately for Mikel Arteta, his Gunners side came up with the goods.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealed a 1-0 win in a match that saw Arsenal have 30 attempts, the most they have had in a league game since producing 33 against Manchester United in December 2017.

Remarkably, with Liverpool also having 30 shots against Leeds, the record from last season (29, set by Manchester City against Leeds in April) has already been surpassed twice.

This is Norwich's worst ever start to a league campaign after four games (zero points, -10 goal difference) and just the third time they have started a season with four league defeats.

Aaron Ramsdale, meanwhile, became the first English goalkeeper to make a Premier League appearance for Arsenal since David Seaman way back in May 2003.

Mikel Arteta hinted Aaron Ramsdale may retain his place in Arsenal's starting XI over Bernd Leno after keeping a clean sheet on his Premier League debut for the Gunners.

Arsenal shelled out for a deal that could reach a reported £30million to prise goalkeeper Ramsdale from relegated Sheffield United during the last transfer window.

Leno had the jersey for the opening three league matches of the season, which saw Arsenal beaten by Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City without scoring a goal.

Ramsdale came into the fold for Saturday's 1-0 win over Norwich City and put in an assured display, albeit he was rarely tested by a Canaries side that managed a solitary shot on target.

Since Leno joined Arsenal ahead of the 2018-19 campaign, the German has a slightly better save percentage than Ramsdale (70.87 to 68.59) and, as you would probably expect, has more clean sheets with 24 to 11.

Leno has made more errors leading to goals (eight to three), while per 90 minutes he makes fewer saves (3.17 to 3.64) – although again given Ramsdale was previously representing Bournemouth and the Blades this is perhaps to be expected.

Bigger tests lie in wait for Ramsdale than a shot-shy Norwich but Arsenal boss Arteta appeared to suggest the spot is his to lose.

"He was terrific, not only what he did on the technical side but what he transmits, his chemistry with the back line, his body language. It was top,' said Arteta.

"We have two fantastic keepers, I had to make a decision and it was the right one.

"I want to see how they perform, we need performances. Whoever is more reliable is going to play."

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