Arteta praises Arsenal's 'courage' as leaders sink Spurs before fans attack

Arteta praises Arsenal’s ‘courage’ as leaders sink Spurs before fans attack

Mikel Arteta praised Arsenal’s “courage” as the Premier League leaders cruised to a 2-0 win over arch-rivals Tottenham before keeping his cool when goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale was attacked by a fan after the final whistle on Sunday.

Arteta’s side were given the advantage by Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who pushed a Bukayo Saka cross into his own net early in the first half.

Martin Odegaard added Arsenal’s second goal with a superb long-range shot before the break.

Arsenal’s first league double over Tottenham since 2013-14 put them eight points clear of second-placed Manchester City.

But their celebrations were marred by an ugly conclusion to the derby when a Spurs fan leapt onto the pitch and tried to kick Ramsdale after the Arsenal goalkeeper collided with Tottenham’s Richarlison.

“The Spurs fans gave me something during the second half, I gave them something back, then the fan jumped,” Ramsdale said.

“It’s a bitter taste, but luckily nothing too drastic happened.”

When asked about the critical point, Arteta added: “I just want to talk about football and the beautiful game we just played.

“I loved the way we played and the courage we showed. Anything we ask of them, they’re willing to try. They’re a fantastic group of players.”

“I think we went a step further today. We won last season in big stadiums, but the way we won today was really nice.”

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte condemned the attack by fans, saying: “If it happened, it’s not good. We always have to show respect for an opponent and the players. I don’t like it.”

As Arsenal’s unexpected title charge gathers pace, their trip to fifth-placed Tottenham was a major test of their mettle.

They passed with flying colors in a venue that had been a house of horrors for the Gunners, who had lost all three games at Tottenham’s lavish new stadium since it opened in 2019.

– ‘Great result’ –

“Not only does it show determination and courage, but you have to have the confidence and quality to do it against this team. That absolutely depends on the players,” Arteta said.

Even losing to Chelsea in the race to sign Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhailo Mudryk on Sunday could be written off as a minor inconvenience thanks to this statement of success.

Unbeaten in their last 12 league games, the Gunners are in the lead to win the title for the first time since Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles reigned in 2004.

With City’s stammer looking more vulnerable than usual and Liverpool struggling to shake off a season-long slump, Arsenal have seized the lead in the title race with a remarkable 15 wins from their 18 games.

Next weekend’s visit from Manchester United, the only team to have beaten the Gunners in the league this season, represents another crucial test for Arsenal, who have yet to face City twice in the league and in the FA Cup.

“Psychologically and emotionally it is a great result. There is a great history between the clubs and this means a lot to our people,” said Arteta.

“It’s a great position to be in. Let’s enjoy every moment and keep working. I don’t want to do the math, we have to focus on United.”

Arsenal took the lead thanks to Lloris’s nightmare in the 14th minute.

When Saka cut in from the right flank and guided a cross into the box, it should have been easy for Lloris to manage.

But Lloris made the latest in a growing list of costly mistakes with a woefully weak save attempt that let the ball slide into the net at the near post.

Arsenal controlled possession with imperious ease and Thomas Partey was inches away when his long-range volley hit the post.

Saka was uncontrollable and provided the assist when Odegaard scored on 36′.

Advancing uncontrollably, Saka picked Odegaard unmarked and the Arsenal captain drilled a fine finish past Lloris from 25 yards.

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