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Mikel Arteta has been hailed as a 'masterpiece' after reversing Unai Emery's Arsenal trial

Arsenal took a step closer to their long-awaited return to the Champions League as goals from Rob Holding and Gabriel earned them a 2-1 win over West Ham at the London Stadium (Author: Gardener)

ArtetaArsenal took a step closer to their long-awaited return to the Champions League as Rob Holding and Gabriel gave them a 2-1 win over West Ham at the London stadium, a problem that has plagued the Gunners for years. That's the view of Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp, who has described the decision to give the Norwegian the armband as a "masterstroke". Arsenal moved back into the Premier League top four on Sunday as goals from Rob Holding and Gabriel helped them win 2-1 away at West Ham. The win was the perfect answer to Tottenham's early 3-1 win over Leicester City, a result that temporarily put Spurs above their north London opponents in the race for Champions League football. Arteta's side weren't at their best against the Hammers but showed their streetwise credentials to pick up what could be the crucial three points. And Odegaard was once again at the center of everything Arsenal did well, helping to dictate the pace from the heart of midfield. The 23-year-old has become a permanent fixture in Arteta's squad since his permanent move from Real Madrid last summer. But not only has his outstanding technical ability earned him praise, his leadership skills also help him stand out in a dressing room with no experience. Arsenal face a long-term end-of-season decision without a permanent captain following the sale of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the January window. But Odegaard appears to be the leader in the clubhouse, having appeared on the field as Arteta's lieutenant in recent months and taking the armband since Alexandre Lacazette left the side through injury. Mikel Arteta watched Arsenal return to the top four with a win over West Ham. The Gunners' search for a captain has been a long one, with the likes of Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny and Granit Xhaka falling short of the buck. Xhaka was made captain by Arteta's predecessor after asking the rest of the squad to vote for a leader. But Redknapp believes the identification of Odegaard as the new leader could be a defining moment in his tenure at the Emirates dugout. By bringing him into the team they may have encountered a problem that Arsenal has been causing for a couple of years… captaincy,” he explained. Martin Odegaard has emerged as a leader for Arsenal this season. He's a nice player to watch. “You can see from Mikel Arteta's point of view he's almost his manager on the pitch. Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith agreed with Redknapp, adding: "He takes responsibility and that's quite rare for someone that young. I know a lot of Arsenal fans have asked if they want him back but there aren't many like him and he's only going to get better. It's the youngest team and they will grow together and he will be the center of everything."

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Defenders on goal as Arsenal reclaim fourth place with a win over West Ham

Rob Holding and Gabriel headed home on either side of Jarrod Bowen's equaliser (Author: Gardener)

West HamArsenal tightened their grip on fourth place in the Premier League after centre-backs Rob Holding and Gabriel scored in a 2-1 win over West Ham at the London Stadium. The Gunners batted from corners in every half to secure the crucial three points in the race to qualify for the Champions League, initially holding off closest rivals Tottenham who beat Leicester 3-1 earlier in the day. Bukayo Saka was an influential figure throughout and Arsenal would have won more easily had Eddie Nketiah not been so wasteful, but West Ham have been great given their Europa League semi-final commitments and lack of defenders. Star striker Michail Antonio came on as a second-half substitute after Thursday night's 2-1 defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt and Declan Rice was in the starting XI with the away game just four days away. But they drained the tanks and took the game to their London rivals for a long time, seeking the stronger side and equalizing through Jarrod Bowen before eventually suffering a defeat that mathematically ended their own plans in fourth place. Despite the demands of their European campaign, West Ham started brightly and Aaron Ramsdale had to act decisively to deal with a swinging corner from Bowen. Declan Rice has an attempt on goal for West Ham (John Walton/PA) (PA Wire) West Ham were up front but there was little thrill at either end and when Holding inexplicably got the ball wide, it summed up a lifeless opening period . Occasional action came at the end of Arsenal and in the 30th minute it took a determined block from Holding to save Manuel Lanzini from close range after Vladimir Coufal's pass was deflected off Nuno Tavares. Rice fired straight into Ramsdale's arms, but soon it was the Gunners' turn to threaten, with Nketiah being the catalyst as they sneaked in against the flow of the game. Nketiah threaded into the box to force a save from Lukasz Fabianski and from the following corner found Saka Holding who nodded home his first Premier League goal. Rice was the focus of West Ham's reaction meaning they went all over the pitch at half-time as he forced a clever save from Ramsdale before starting the move that led to their equaliser. A long pass into the box found Coufal and the Czech defender controlled the ball brilliantly before picking out Bowen, whose shot was deflected into the net by Gabriel. The second half started at a frantic pace as Bowen was shown a simulation yellow card when he avoided Ramsdale's lunge, amid a breathless spell for West Ham that ended abruptly as Arsenal added a second. Once again they rushed from a corner as the ball found Gabriel Martinelli, who tagged to his unmarked namesake and compatriot with a header that hit Fabianski at the far post.

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Premier League final standings and reaction

The Brazilian defender won at the London Stadium after Jarrod Bowen called off Rob Holding's opener (Author: Gardener)

BrazilianArsenal tightened their grip on fourth place in the Premier League after centre-backs Rob Holding and Gabriel scored in a 2-1 win over West Ham at the London Stadium. The Gunners batted from corners in every half to secure the crucial three points in the race to qualify for the Champions League, initially holding off closest rivals Tottenham who beat Leicester 3-1 earlier in the day. Bukayo Saka was an influential figure throughout and Arsenal would have won more easily had Eddie Nketiah not been so wasteful, but West Ham have been great given their Europa League semi-final commitments and lack of defenders. Star striker Michail Antonio came on as a second-half substitute after Thursday night's 2-1 defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt and Declan Rice was in the starting XI with the away game just four days away. But they drained the tanks and took the game to their London rivals for a long time, seeking the stronger side and equalizing through Jarrod Bowen before eventually suffering a defeat that mathematically ended their own plans in fourth place. Despite the demands of their European campaign, West Ham started brightly and Aaron Ramsdale had to act decisively to deal with a swinging corner from Bowen. West Ham were up front but there was little thrill at either end and when Holding inexplicably played the ball wide, it summed up a lifeless opening spell. Occasional action came at the end of Arsenal and in the 30th minute it took a determined block from Holding to save Manuel Lanzini from close range after Vladimir Coufal's pass was deflected off Nuno Tavares. Rice fired straight into Ramsdale's arms, but soon it was the Gunners' turn to threaten, with Nketiah being the catalyst as they sneaked in against the flow of the game. Nketiah threaded into the box to force a save from Lukasz Fabianski and from the following corner found Saka Holding who nodded home his first Premier League goal. Rice was the focus of West Ham's reaction meaning they went all over the pitch at half-time as he forced a clever save from Ramsdale before starting the move that led to their equaliser. A long pass into the box found Coufal and the Czech defender controlled the ball brilliantly before picking out Bowen, whose shot was deflected into the net by Gabriel. The second half started at a frantic pace as Bowen was shown a simulation yellow card when he avoided Ramsdale's lunge, amid a breathless spell for West Ham that ended abruptly as Arsenal added a second.

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Juventus see Arsenal's Gabriel as Chiellini's successor

Juventus are planning a summer move for Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhaes. Transfer Talk has the latest. (Author: Gardener)

Arsenal's GabrielTransfer Talk brings you the latest rumours, comings and goings and of course deals done! Juventus are planning a summer move for Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhaes, according to Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio. Gabriel was the match-winner in the Gunners' crucial 2-1 away win at West Ham United on Sunday and Di Marzio believes Juve could try to sweeten the deal by bringing in 25-year-old midfielder Arthur Melo in return. Juventus are desperate for a top centre-back ahead of the new season. Giorgio Chiellini decides whether to leave the club after 17 seasons and Gabriel is the player they have identified as his successor. The 24-year-old has been a consistent performer for Arteta this season, playing his 33rd game of the season on Sunday. Juve think the former Lille player has all the necessary qualities to fit straight into boss Maximiliano Allegri's system and they are keen to get a deal over the line to attract Barcelona's interest, among others to fend off Gabriel is believed to be happy in north London but Juve believe a swap deal could persuade Arsenal to part ways with the Brazilian. - Tottenham Hotspur winger Steven Bergwijn is actively "looking for a solution" to his lack of playing time under Antonio Conte, the Athletic reveal. The 24-year-old former PSV Eindhoven attacker has struggled to establish himself at the side under a string of managers and current boss Conte has given him just one start since arriving as manager. Now it looks like crunch talks are looming between the club and the player as he looks to play more games. - Manchester United and Arsenal are keeping tabs on midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, 22, according to the Sun. The Frenchman is one of the hottest prospects in European football and is seen by United officials as a more realistic alternative to West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice. Tchouameni has impressed for AS Monaco this season and the French midfielder would certainly be an upgrade in United's midfield. However, his lustrous form has been such that United are vying with Arsenal and Liverpool for his signature. - New Manchester United boss Erik ten Haag is set to enter a battle with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola in a bid to improve United's midfield. The Dutchman is keen to beat his Spanish counterpart after signing James Ward-Prowse from Southampton. That's according to the Sun, who believe Ten Haag has made the England international one of their top targets. Saints skipper Ward-Prowse, 27, could demand a £75million fee but Ten Hague see him as a key part of the rebuilding work he faces at Old Trafford. - Barcelona are considering a number of goals at left-back, with Chelsea's Marcos Alonso emerging as the latest option, according to Sport. Barca are looking to strengthen in several areas ahead of the 2022-23 season with a new left-back at the top of the list. Current incumbent Jordi Alba is not getting any younger and Alonso, 33, joins a list of targets that include Celta Vigo's Javi Galan, Benfica's Alejandro Grimaldo and Valencia's Jose Gaya. Alonso is under contract at Chelsea until 2023 but could be a steal at €15m. - Barcelona director Mateu Alemany has dampened links between the club and Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski. Speaking to Movistar after Barcelona's 2-1 win over Mallorca on Sunday, Alemany said: "There was no meeting with Lewandowski's agent.

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Arteta hails Arsenal after win to boost bid in top four

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says it's the sign a great team can win ugly as the Gunners beat West Ham to reclaim fourth place in the Premier League. (Author: Gardener)

fourArsenal boss Mikel Arteta said it was the sign a big team could win ugly as the Gunners beat West Ham at the London Stadium to reclaim fourth place in the Premier League. It was Arteta centre-backs who produced the performance, with Gabriel Magalhaes nodding for the winner early in the second half after Rob Holding opened the scoring from a Bukayo Saka corner in the 38th minute. "We didn't play that well," said Arteta. Great teams have to find a way to win ugly when they're not playing well. Jarrod Bowen equalized for the Hammers just before half-time, controlling Vladimir Coufal's cross and pressing a hit into the bottom corner, a reward for a strong first-half performance. But David Moyes' team failed to reach that level after falling behind for the second time - and the defeat leaves them in seventh place, three points behind sixth-placed Manchester United with three games to go. "We conceded a couple of set pieces where we're usually very good, both in attack and defence. The Gunners are keen to return to Europe's elite competition next season and Arteta's side have enjoyed the advantage in this one Not having continental football this season, so everyone." Their resources can focus on getting back into the top four for the first time since 2015/16. West Ham's only realistic chance of qualifying for the Champions League now is to win the Europa League - and Moyes' side would be forgiven if they had a 1-0 in Thursday's semi-final second leg against Eintracht Frankfurt, Arsenal wanted: 2 from behind but Arsenal struggled to find their feet before Eddie Nketiah, with a clever run and low shot, forced a corner from which Holding climbed the highest head in Saka's delivery for Bowen's first Premier League goal the Hammers equalized just before half-time, but after the hosts failed to clear a corner properly, Gabriel was unmarked left at the back post, Gabriel Martinelli headed in a cross in the 54th minute and punched former Arsenal stopper Lukasz Fabianski on his short post. The visitors weren't at their best but while the battle with north London rivals Spurs heats up - and the Gunners travel to Tottenham in a week on Thursday - restoring their two-point lead was Arsenal's key result. That may be partly to blame for the hosts twice failing from set pieces, but it was also West Ham's 52nd game of the season - 11 more than Arsenal played - and they struggled to beat the Gunners throughout the game. The hosts fell behind despite the better half hour of the opening. They responded to Holding's opening goal within seven minutes as Bowen scored his 10th top flight goal of the season, becoming the first Englishman to score in double figures for the club since Kevin Nolan in 2012-13. Moyes turned to Michail Antonio, who was rested ahead of Thursday's semi-final second leg in the Europa League semi-finals. 19 minutes remaining to try and equalize for the second time, but the striker managed just one touch inside the opposition's box. The Hammers have now dropped points in each of their last four Premier League games to a Europa League game, while that defeat ended their six-game unbeaten home run in the league. Of even greater concern for Moyes is that his side have been unbeaten in their last four Premier League games - and the Scot will not want a productive season to fizzle out now. * Our coverage of your Premier League club is bigger and better than ever - here's everything you need to know to make sure you don't miss a moment

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Arsenal are happy with an ugly win but they need to keep teams from targeting Tavares

Mikel Arteta's team were far from their best at West Ham but showed they were coming of age at the London Stadium (Author: Gardener)

ArtetaIn the middle of the first half of an utterly unforgettable London derby, Nuno Tavares picked up the ball near the halfway line and embarked on an adventure. Then Tavares ran out of breath, realizing he had no idea what to do next and basically letting the ball run away from his feet. Still, he kept going, Arsenal's second choice left-back was yellow as he continued to run straight. His momentum took him well into West Ham's area and gave him an excellent view of Lukasz Fabianski, who launched the ball away. At this point it became clear that a gaping hole had appeared on the left side of the arsenal. West Ham kept finding space on that flank, repeating the same passing sequences to send Vladimir Coufal away and it was no great surprise Tavares eventually being caught, the Portuguese's positioning all over the place when Jarrod Bowen canceled Arsenal's lead just before half-time. It wasn't a memorable performance from Arsenal, who played dazedly at times and occasionally seemed anxious to hand the initiative to Tottenham in the contention for fourth place, but it was enough for Arteta. "In England they say win ugly," said Arsenal's manager. "But I'm very happy when a team wins ugly." Arteta was right. This version of Arsenal feels tougher: goals from set pieces, more robustness, an unabashed willingness to shut down the clock. There's certainly something about Arsenal that rubs opponents in the wrong direction. Towards the end, as Arsenal defended their 2-1 lead at an increasingly irate London stadium, West Ham seemed to crumble. Eddie Nketiah, who had a lively game up front, had suddenly morphed into Diego Costa and was doing his best to challenge Aaron Creswell. Likewise, there were moments when Arteta was reminded that Arsenal isn't the finished article. The lack of urgency was a concern as West Ham focused on the Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt. The game drifted and it took a long time for Arsenal to build something against a defense of three full-backs and an underpowered Kurt Zouma. But Arsenal cannot afford to be inconsistent now. They need to be more assertive in the last third and on the other hand they need to prevent teams from targeting Tavares who always seems a second away from doing something completely disastrous in defence. With Kieran Tierney out for the season, Tavares has Arteta worried. If Tottenham see this game they will know where to attack Arsenal in the crucial north London derby next week. Antonio Conte's instructions to Dejan Kulusevski will be simple: bring the ball to Harry Kane, wait for him to turn around and be ready to run when the striker fires a pass down the right flank into space. It's an obvious weakness in Arsenal's line-up; the one area where they haven't lost their solitary tendencies. Everyone knows Tavares is vulnerable. He was hooked in the first half against Nottingham Forest in January, was substituted off early against Crystal Palace last month and was extremely fortunate to concede just one penalty against Manchester United last weekend while spending large chunks of the game against West Ham , simply tapping goes straight out of the game and puts his team under unnecessary pressure. So it proved when West Ham disallowed Rob Holding's header goal. Declan Rice substituted the game, Tavares was too far in infield and Coufal slapped the ball to Bowen, whose deflected shot defeated Aaron Ramsdale. It must be of concern to Arteta, especially as the superb Takehiro Tomiyasu hobbled away in his first start since January. Tomiyasu is the opposite of Tavares: steady, imposing, reliable. Still, Arsenal found a way here, capitalizing on West Ham's lack of height through set-piece goals from Holding and Gabriel Magalhães. And to give him what he deserves, Tavares was still strong in the end, winning a crucial header in his area before launching a counterattack. In many ways he was the most entertaining player on the pitch. However, Arteta could have used more rest.

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Fourth place is 'like a trophy for Arsenal & Spurs'

MOTD2 expert Jonathan Woodgate explains why next week's North London derby will feel like a cup final - with the price of a place in next season's Champions League. (Author: Gardener)

Arsenal & Spurs'Arsenal are in the driver's seat for a fourth-place finish at the moment, but with four games to go we all know what will decide whether they - or Tottenham - make it through. Like many people, I think whoever wins this game will end up in the Champions League spots - but good luck predicting who that will be. I don't think it matters who is ahead of the table before the derby either. Because of what's at stake, both teams will throw everything they have at each other. I've played for Spurs a few times in that game and they don't even have to be anything to be special occasions because you always get from both fan groups. It will feel like a cup final as fourth place is now like a trophy for Arsenal and Tottenham which would mean Champions League returns for both clubs next season. Offering Champions League football quite simply makes the difference between being able to sign certain players or not. I wouldn't say I've been won over by either side this season, which is why they're in the position they're in. However, the same could be said of all the teams that have been battling for fourth place this season, including Arsenal. It feels like Manchester United are putting in a 'United' performance most weeks - and by that I mean a very disappointing one. You look at where United finished last season in second place and who they signed last summer - Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho - but somehow they're much worse off. Arsenal and Spurs are both struggling and have dropped some silly points in recent weeks but things are nowhere near as bad as at Old Trafford and both showed they are ready for what was to come with their wins on Sunday lies in front of them. Tottenham took a little time to find their rhythm against Leicester but once Harry Kane put them ahead they were at the top. Son Heung-min scored his goals too and together he and Kane showed what we already knew – these two players can always get them out of trouble no matter what. As a former centre-back, I love the way Romero plays. He puts himself in good positions and is always there when someone makes a mistake. You will need more of these in the coming weeks. After Spurs saw them win comfortably and move above them in the table, it was up to Arsenal to react as they headed to West Ham for the later kick-off. Their centre-backs, Rob Holding and Gabriel, also played big roles in the win over West Ham, but their biggest contributions obviously came from down the field. It doesn't matter if your forwards are scoring a lot of goals or not - and Arsenal's really aren't at the moment - every season you're trying to achieve something you need to score goals from your entire squad. Gunners boss Mikel Arteta must have loved watching them both score from set pieces and also the way his team produced a result. I don't think Arsenal played particularly well at the London Stadium but I was still impressed with how they managed to pull off their win. It felt like we had seen a different side of Arsenal again and it meant they took another vital three points in a very difficult game. After having that little wobble a few weeks ago as their form plummeted, they've now bounced back, beating Chelsea, Manchester United and West Ham in back-to-back games. Of course, all wins are welcome, but getting them in such big games is even better. Arsenal are now just three points behind third-placed Chelsea, who surprisingly lost at Everton on Sunday. They've been underperforming on occasion lately but that's hardly surprising given what's going on off the pitch at the club. They still have far more good days than bad, and when they're good they push most teams aside. I watched the Blues play Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final a few months ago and it was the best 0-0 draw I've ever seen. Even when they're bad, you always see a reaction from them, which is another good sign. We saw that against Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals, when they paid the price for a poor first 45 minutes in the first leg but came back strong in Madrid and almost went through. I'm not looking at their remaining games and I think they will fight leaving only a top four place up for grabs. I'll tell you who I think will get this when the north London derby is over.

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Mikel Arteta hails Arsenal for 'ugly' win against West Ham while Sky Sports pundits hail Eddie Nketiah's influence

Mikel Arteta: We won ugly and big teams have to find a way to win ugly when they're not at their best; Jamie Redknapp: Nketiah has given Arsenal another dimension; Alan Smith: Nketiah's appearance came at just the right time for Arsenal; Gunners won 2-1 at West Ham (Author: Gardener)

West HamMikel Arteta praised his Arsenal side for their "ugly win" as they clinched a 2-1 win over West Ham to move back up over Tottenham to fourth in the Premier League. The Gunners were not at their best at the London Stadium but emerged victorious thanks to headed goals from centre-backs Rob Holding and Gabriel Magalhaes on either side of Jarrod Bowen's equaliser. West Ham put the Gunners under pressure for a long time as they tried to react in the second half, but Arteta's side defended resolutely to sit two points ahead of Spurs and three points ahead of third-placed Chelsea after their defeat by Everton. "We won ugly and big teams have to find a way to win ugly when they're not playing at their best," Arteta told Sky Sports. We lacked the composure, the dominance to play the game we wanted to play, but we found a way through set pieces by defending extremely well. "I'm still digesting a lot of things that we didn't do right, but as a team, to gain confidence and continue with the moment we have, we've won against three big teams in a row." When asked if Arsenal shows a streetwise series, Arteta added: "I love that. We need that to win football games. "You have to find a way, you have to play the game, it's necessary to play when you're not in are at their best and we have been in many moments. West Ham kept their place in the team ahead of Alexandre Lacazette throughout. "Nketiah has brought a different dimension to Arsenal," said Jamie Redknapp. "When you have a player like Lacazette who can't run back, he always is." come to the ball. “It's fine, he ties the game, nice, but you have to distribute the game. “You have to stretch teams and that's what Nketiah does. "He gives the team a clearance and it changes the whole complexion of the game." Graeme Souness, meanwhile, described Nketiah as an outstanding player and said he was "amazed" Arsenal hadn't signed the 22-year-old to a new contract. Nketiah has been offered terms by the Gunners but has so far turned down their proposals as his current contract expires at the end of the campaign. "I thought Nketiah would be the best player on the pitch against West Ham," said Souness. "He won't be short of teams wanting him. I really like him and I thought he was fabulous against West Ham." If that's his general standard, he won't be short of teams wanting to take him and ends the season on a strong note: "They offered him a new contract but because he's played so little football he wants to play football regularly", said Smith. "He doesn't harm himself at all with his style of play." Wait, and that might just encourage him to think I might get more games next year. "I think he would play more games like this." He added: "When he comes on as a substitute this season, I think he's just been running around too many times and not contributing enough, but you've seen him is closed against West Ham.” He did so against Chelsea for his goal when Andreas Christensen played a short back pass. “His game is much better overall and he is doing well. “I think his hold-up game has gotten better too. There were times when he fought back against his man, putting his body between the ball and the defender. Smith continued, “He's always looking at a defender's shoulder, he's got a bit of pace and he's always eyeing the whites of the posts. He was unlucky not to score against West Ham.” Nketiah's promotion has come at just the right time for Arsenal as Alexandre Lacazette looked like he had done everything he could this season.

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Mikel Arteta hails Arsenal for 'ugly' win against West Ham while Sky Sports pundits hail Eddie Nketiah's influence

Mikel Arteta: We won ugly and big teams have to find a way to win ugly when they're not at their best; Jamie Redknapp: Nketiah has given Arsenal another dimension; Alan Smith: Nketiah's appearance came at just the right time for Arsenal; Gunners won 2-1 at West Ham (Author: Gardener)

West HamMikel Arteta praised his Arsenal side for their "ugly win" as they clinched a 2-1 win over West Ham to move back up over Tottenham to fourth in the Premier League. The Gunners were not at their best at the London Stadium but emerged victorious thanks to headed goals from centre-backs Rob Holding and Gabriel Magalhaes on either side of Jarrod Bowen's equaliser. West Ham put the Gunners under pressure for a long time as they tried to react in the second half, but Arteta's side defended resolutely to sit two points ahead of Spurs and three points ahead of third-placed Chelsea after their defeat by Everton. "We won ugly and big teams have to find a way to win ugly when they're not playing at their best," Arteta told Sky Sports. We lacked the composure, the dominance to play the game we wanted to play, but we found a way through set pieces by defending extremely well. "I'm still digesting a lot of things that we didn't do right, but as a team, to gain confidence and continue with the moment we have, we've won against three big teams in a row." When asked if Arsenal shows a streetwise series, Arteta added: "I love that. We need that to win football games. "You have to find a way, you have to play the game, it's necessary to play when you're not in are at their best and we have been in many moments. West Ham kept their place in the team ahead of Alexandre Lacazette throughout. "Nketiah has brought a different dimension to Arsenal," said Jamie Redknapp. "When you have a player like Lacazette who can't run back, he always is." come to the ball. “It's fine, he ties the game, nice, but you have to distribute the game. “You have to stretch teams and that's what Nketiah does. "He gives the team a clearance and it changes the whole complexion of the game." Graeme Souness, meanwhile, described Nketiah as an outstanding player and said he was "amazed" Arsenal hadn't signed the 22-year-old to a new contract. Nketiah has been offered terms by the Gunners but has so far turned down their proposals as his current contract expires at the end of the campaign. "I thought Nketiah would be the best player on the pitch against West Ham," said Souness. "He won't be short of teams wanting him. I really like him and I thought he was fabulous against West Ham." If that's his general standard, he won't be short of teams wanting to take him and ends the season on a strong note: "They offered him a new contract but because he's played so little football he wants to play football regularly", said Smith. "He doesn't harm himself at all with his style of play." Wait, and that might just encourage him to think I might get more games next year. "I think he would play more games like this." He added: "When he comes on as a substitute this season, I think he's just been running around too many times and not contributing enough, but you've seen him is closed against West Ham.” He did so against Chelsea for his goal when Andreas Christensen played a short back pass. “His game is much better overall and he is doing well. “I think his hold-up game has gotten better too. There were times when he fought back against his man, putting his body between the ball and the defender. Smith continued, “He's always looking at a defender's shoulder, he's got a bit of pace and he's always eyeing the whites of the posts. He was unlucky not to score against West Ham.” Nketiah's promotion has come at just the right time for Arsenal as Alexandre Lacazette looked like he had done everything he could this season.

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Arsenal's fresh legs have them with a foothold in next season's Champions League

Having a season without European football has been impressive for Arsenal and that freshness has put them on the inside track for a top-four finish. (Author: Gardener)

next season'sLONDON — It has long felt as if Arsenal's absence from Europe this season would eventually give them a crucial advantage, and Sunday's 2-1 win at West Ham was. The timing of that game could not have been better for them, coming in the middle of West Ham's first two-legged semi-final in 46 years - something their manager David Moyes has openly admitted - while the Gunners had a clear week to complete their preparations. Both goals came from corner kicks by Bukayo Saka, the first being converted by Rob Holding after 38 minutes of extremely muggy football to that point. (Moyes later wondered if Holding had handled Saka's first delivery.) Jarrod Bowen's deflected equalizer restored the level at half-time before West Ham faltered again at the back and were unable to handle Saka's delivery when Gabriel Martinelli returned the ball over the Goal brought Gabriel had to play against Lukasz Fabianski. Moyes only felt able to field a recognized centre-back at kick-off. Craig Dawson was suspended and with Thursday's Europa League semi-final second leg against Eintracht Frankfurt on his mind, Arsenal scored in both games, with centre-backs ramming that particular cross home somewhat pointedly. The London stadium was subdued throughout, punctuated by a few empty seats - a degree of ambivalence explained by a West Ham supporter who left the floor full-time saying 'we've got bigger fish to fry' to that 1:2 deficit in the first leg in Frankfurt. West Ham gave up all hopes of jumping into the top four some time ago and Sunday was their 52nd game of a grueling season, 11 more than Arsenal have played. They have won just four of their last 14 games in all competitions as efforts at home and abroad are beginning to catch up to them. Arsenal lost a Europa League semi-final to Villarreal last season to finish eighth in the table, with Arteta having more time between games to implement his ideas. "Gosh, it made a difference from day one," said Moyes. "Arsenal's improvement this year has been incredible because it has probably given them the opportunity not to get involved in Europe to properly prepare for games. Even last year, Arsenal were in the semi-finals of the Europa League last year, we're in it this year ." and that's why it turned out to be quite a difficult season for them. So we're a little bit the same. This was a terrible game in large parts, a season-ending sentiment clearly at odds with the magnitude of its impact. Arteta later admitted his players knew Tottenham had beaten Leicester earlier in the day and put them in fourth over Arsenal by the time the Gunners kicked off and perhaps the fine margins in the game contributed to a stunted performance Way to win and today we won ugly," he said. The game turned into a crucial two-minute period when Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale found an upstart Bowen seven minutes into the restart. It seemed a hasty move too which could result in a red card but Ramsdale somehow missed both the ball and Bowen who dived to earn a yellow card instead On the next attack Saka forced Fabianski to turn a low shot to his near post and from the resulting corner, Gabriel finally scored." If Jarrod had done what I've seen hundreds of strikers do lately, and a lot easily left his leg there and taken the punch I think it would have been a very different story for us and Arsenal. Instant access. It's that stage of the season where results are paramount and the prospect of Tottenham facing a daunting trip to Liverpool next weekend increases the chances Arsenal have a healthy cushion in the top four race when the derby takes place in north London on May 12th. But they have to. With three straight wins (against Chelsea, Man United and West Ham) and three defeats (against Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton) they improved to maintain consistency in the warm-up line-up only to hobble away injured later on , while Nuno Tavares had one of those afternoons of action where he's simultaneously a threat and a liability in almost every passage of the game It's Dangerous, but Holding compensated for Ben White's absence (hamstring injury) by delivering a key performance in the defense and scored his first goal in the Premier League. Ramsdale joked to Sky Sports afterwards that "it only took six years and a new hairline" and it could prove to be a pivotal contribution. It's also a result that confirms Arsenal will play some form of European football next season, the Europa League at a minimum. They'll need a bigger, better squad to compete on two fronts, but this one is suddenly showing promise again in the Premier League.

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