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Arsenal's line-up a year ago shows just how much Mikel Arteta has changed

Arsenal have continued to overhaul their squad while targeting the top four, with Mikel Arteta adding young talent who inherited a squad from Unai Emery when he arrived (Author: Gardener)

a year agoArsenal have continued to overhaul their squad to aim for the top 4, with Mikel Arteta adding young talent who inherited a squad from Unai Emery when he arrived. Mikel Arteta continues to make his mark on this Arsenal side. A week is a long time in football so a year is something for life - as Arsenal proved in their squad renewal. Mikel Arteta is in his second full season and has the Gunners on the cusp of the Champions League after a disappointing eighth-place finish last season. His first summer of recruitment saw more misses than hits as several of those players were no longer with the club. This time around, Arteta and the Emirates hierarchy made an effort to lower the squad's average age by adding a host of players in their early 20s. Arsenal edged West Ham United at the London Stadium on Sunday, with Gabriel scoring the winner. Exactly a year ago to the day, the Gunners won 2-0 at Newcastle, with Mohamed Elneny and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both at St. Aubameyang was frozen after a disciplinary offense and Arteta made the decision to let the prolific striker go. Willian was in attack alongside Aubameyang against Newcastle. The playmaker, who came through the ranks at the Emirates, began to establish himself as a leader last season and has continued to develop this season. Will Arsenal finish in the top four? Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard both started in the win at Newcastle 12 months ago and the pair continue to be crucial figures this season. Dani Ceballos was loaned out by Real Madrid but inconsistent performances coupled with his desire to return to Spain saw him leave the Emirates. Elneny, who has played in recent weeks, started alongside Ceballos at Newcastle but Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka have established themselves as the two favourites. Xhaka showed his versatility by playing at left-back that day. And it's Arsenal's backline that has changed the most over the past year. Ben White has usually linked up with Gabriel after making a £50million move from Brighton and Hove Albion in the summer. Although it was Rob Holding who scored the opener at West Ham, who partnered with Gabriel in White's absence. Takehiro Tomiyasu, a summer signing, played on the right side, while Nuno Tavares, also a summer signing, played on the opposite side. Aaron Ramsdale, who was relegated for consecutive seasons, joined Arsenal for a hefty fee in the summer, drawing widespread criticism. Now the England goalkeeper is pushing for international excellence as Arteta's arsenal continues to take shape. He said last month after further departures in January: "Those who left were players that we didn't really use and I don't know how much they would have played. “We made a decision based on what we saw every day how the players can contribute in their role at the club and if they want to do that. I don't think we have to justify a decision that we felt was the right one for the club and then for the individual players who asked for an opportunity to play football because they hadn't had any minutes for several months ."

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Arsenal's top-four pursuit could be decided by Nuno Tavares' mayhem

Tavares will be targeted by the opposition in all of Arsenal's remaining games and Mikel Arteta will need to find a way to capitalize on the full-back's wild streak (Author: Gardener)

Nuno Tavares'A flat arsenal had little bounce against West Ham, but grace is hardly a necessity when attempting to clear the hurdles that stand between Mikel Arteta's side and a place in the top four. "In England they say ugly to win," said the manager, with a touch of pre-permascowl Mourinho. "But I'm really happy when a team wins ugly." They've taken another precarious step towards a coveted Champions League spot thanks to good defense and unlikely scoring chances from Rob Holding and Gabriel Magalhaes, but it can't Doubts that a West Ham side weary from their Europa League campaign have performed to any degree are merciful. Arsenal need to improve their game against a Leeds side who are struggling for survival with Tottenham ahead of next weekend's crucial derby in north London. It's like two boxers, both insecure and with gaps in defense, going into the championship rounds and draining their reserves while rocky music is overlaid in the background. What these montages fail to explain, however, is that Nuno Tavares attempts to storm the ring while only managing to get tangled face first in the ropes. There is perhaps no player in the Premier League right now who is as captivating as Tavares. That's exactly what happened against West Ham, when the full-back fell into a daydream just before half-time. When Tavares woke up to find that Vladimir Coufal had rushed after him once again, instead of throwing himself bravely into a block, he dallyed half-heartedly into no man's land. After all, in the game before, Tavares had managed to score and concede a pointless penalty against Manchester United as if it were nothing but the standard prize. It is somewhat bizarre that, despite all the scouting and analysis of modern football, a player with such a wild streak, prone to moments of such mad decision-making, should have been deemed suitable by Arteta, a man whose evening could be ruined if he discovers, that someone had tampered with the order of his bookshelf. And yet it is now Tavares who could decide the fate of Arsenal's season. Arteta has never been shy about his reservations, first evident when Tavares was ignominiously substituted off in the first half against Nottingham Forest. Then, with Kieran Tierney ruled out for the remainder of the season, Arteta sought to shift Granit Xhaka to left-back rather than use his willing deputy against Brighton. That experiment proved a costly mistake, with Arsenal's midfield hopelessly unbalanced and Xhaka lacking the pace to fear. Tavares may maraud up and down the wing with a detonator in hand, but perversely it also seems to cause an implosion when not playing against him. Arsenal centre-backs have been strong, with Holding providing an exceptional replacement for the injured Ben White at the London Stadium. And that leaves Tavares, the vulnerable target line for any enemy attack. You don't want to watch, but you can't help but peek through your fingers. That's how Arteta appeared for much of Sunday's game whenever Tavares and Gabriel Martinelli's axis was injured, with both players tending to drift inside. Despite the latter's obvious potential, it's no coincidence that their last three starts together before the weekend ended in defeat. Striking a balance between the sense of adventure that makes Tavares a real threat for the future and eliminating his tendency to wreak havoc at every turn is a task few Trainers would envy. It's not a transformation that can be accomplished overnight or over the course of four games. It's more of a knockdown conversion than an extension of Tavares' natural play. The raw materials are there and it's easy to forget that he's still only 22, in his first season away from Portugal and adjusting to far more than just the pace and punishment of the Premier League. But the stakes leave no room for error and Tavares won't be immune to the sense of dread that now seems to haunt him around the stadium, overshadowing his every touch. It's not the kind of blind faith Arteta likes to indulge in, but if these are the championship rounds, suspect Tavares will come out swinging no matter how detailed the instructions he's given in the corner, most likely with his eyes closed. and he either lands an Ave Mary or Arsenal hits the canvas.

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Premier League team of the week as Arsenal back-up star joins Liverpool duo

In the Premier League title fight, Manchester City and Liverpool continue to be separated by razor-thin differences, the relegation battle is heating up and Chelsea are now looking over their shoulders nervously, while Arsenal and Spurs are both gaining ground (Author: Gardener)

Premier LeagueIn the Premier League title battle, Manchester City and Liverpool continue to cleave with razor-thin differences, the relegation battle is heating up and Chelsea are now looking nervously over their shoulder, while Arsenal and Spurs are both gaining ground that Richarlison, Rob Holding and Naby Keita were on for their respective sides Huge success Manchester City and Liverpool continue to refuse to concede an inch in their fight for the Premier League title, with both clinching shrewd away victories last weekend. Liverpool clinched all three points at St James' Park as they beat Newcastle United 1-0 through Naby Keita, while Pep Guardiola's side responded with an emphatic 4-0 triumph at Leeds. With just four games left each, they are separated by a point, with Champions City deciding their own fate. Chelsea once looked like potential title contenders, but Thomas Tuchel's side have long since fallen by the wayside, losing 1-0 to relegation-threatened Everton on Sunday. After Burnley won at Watford 24 hours earlier, it was a much-needed victory for the Toffees. There were also victories for Aston Villa, Arsenal, Tottenham, Brighton and Crystal Palace in a weekend without a single draw. The England No1's performance against Chelsea showed exactly why he was Gareth Southgate's undisputed first choice for almost five years as Frank Lampard's men clinched a much-needed three points. "Pickford's saves have kept Everton's dreams alive," former Everton midfielder Leon Osman said on BBC Radio 5 Live, and the 28-year-old was indeed superb at keeping Chelsea at bay. The general consensus around Pickford is that he plays better for his country than his club, but he has actually been the Toffees' most reliable player for much of the current season. However, this was his outstanding performance. The Portugal international was usually all around as the leaders fought their way to a 4-0 win over Leeds United at Elland Road. As usual, Cancelo was smart and diligent on the ball, initiating attacks and looking for holes in home defense but also defending diligently to ensure City could contain counter-attacks - while also producing an excellent late goal-line equaliser. Holding replaced the injured Ben White and showed why he remains a key member of Mikel Arteta's Arsenal squad even if he isn't the first choice. The now 26-year-old has never really secured a place in the first starting XI in his six years with the Emirates but he is a reliable, no-nonsense centre-back who leads by example and knows how to set up a defensive line. He opened the scoring at the London Stadium with a fine header but when West Ham tried to apply late pressure and ordered Michail Antonio off the bench, Holding came into their own. Rob Holding (C) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring in what could be a difficult journey to rising Newcastle United – in a 12.30pm kick-off on Saturday after Wednesday night's Champions League semi-final win over Villarreal – the Dutchman was rock solid when Jürgen Klopp's team celebrated a hard-fought 1-0 win. At times he made everything look so effortless despite facing the blinding feet of Allan Saint-Maximin and the speedy Miguel Almiron, playing like a man who has a firm grip on any situation he faces. Graham Potter's men recently won at both Arsenal and Spurs, adding another away win to their record with a 3-0 away win over Wolves at Molineux. A game in which the 23-year-old Spaniard showed why he was one of the signings of the season at just £15m. Wolves were toothless in attack and the Getafe ex-man played a huge role in repelling attacks with his speed and intelligent interpretation of the game before impressing Brighton with his intelligent use of ball possession and ability to move from defense into midfield roll, brought forward . In a tight game, Liverpool needed a moment of quality to decide matters and that's exactly what they got from Naby Keita, who has quietly put together a very decent season at Anfield. The Guinean may not always be the first choice due to injury problems and the uphill battle for places, but he rarely lets anyone down and scored superbly at St James' Park. Not only that, the ex-RB Leipzig player's all-around performance was mighty impressive. He played a key role in Liverpool's pressing game, winning the ball more than anyone else on the field (nine times). His intensity and resourcefulness have come to the fore over the past six weeks, with Keita finding his best form for the most important part of the season. Naby Keita scores the only goal in Liverpool's win over Newcastle. Whilst Brighton are one of the most tactically flexible sides in the entire Premier League, it says a lot that whatever changes are made in form and personality, Yves Bissouma is always at the heart of the Seagulls side when he is available. The Mali international showed his importance in the win over Wolves, sitting in front of a back three, dictating the game with ease and giving his team-mates a platform from which to wreak havoc in Molineux. In a game that saw him face off against Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho, he dominated the battle in midfield with calm authority and aplomb before sealing the win with a low 25-yarder that crawled into Jose Sa's right post. Since Sean Dyche's sacking, Burnley have claimed three wins and a draw in four games to climb out of the relegation zone and boost their hopes of survival as caretaker Mike Jackson releases the handbrake and gives the side more room to express themselves. But in the second half they played with determination and intensity after seemingly realizing the Hornets were on guard, with veteran midfielder Jack Cork playing a key role in pushing his side to the fore. It was the 32-year-old who equalized and in the second half no player in Bordeaux could smash an opponent or win more dogfights than Cork. He continued to cajole those around him to ensure Jackson's side clinched another win in a 2-1 win to keep their momentum going. The South Korean has been largely excellent this season and following Spurs' recent disappointments in attack against Brighton and Brentford, he was something of his best again in the 3-1 win over Leicester. It was Son's wicked delivery from a corner in the 22nd minute that allowed Harry Kane to open the scoring with a close-range header before Son himself doubled the lead in the second half with a fine twist and finish. He saved the best until last, however, rolling his weaker left foot beautifully home from 25 yards to take him to 19 Premier League goals this season – only Mo Salah (22) has more. Steven Gerrard made his decision from the moment he arrived at Villa Park that Ollie Watkins would be his central attacking role rather than Danny Ings and the England international sealed Norwich's fate with his performance at Villa Park. However, his ninth Premier League goal of the season was superb, working his way free before scoring past Tim Krul. He also helped score Ing's late goal by recapturing the ball high up the field, a facet of his game that earned him plenty of praise. The 26-year-old is yet to reach the heights of his debut season in the top flight but there's no reason why if Villa improve next season he won't be able to top 15 goals. He spends too much time on the ground whining about officials, but when he feels like it, Richarlison is a hell of a striker who can give even the toughest defense a rough time, causing the Toffees on Sunday, chasing loose balls, setting defenders under pressure and make even Thiago Silva - the coolest of cool centre-backs - look downright uncomfortable at times. His winner was just the reward for an excellent centre-forward performance, in which he won more dogfights (five) than anyone else on the field and showed why he can expect to be part of the Brazil squad when the World Cup takes place in November .

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Chelsea manager reacts to Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall's dig over WSL games being postponed

Chelsea stayed four points clear of Arsenal after beating Birmingham 1-0 on Sunday; Jonas Eidevall has recently expressed frustration at the lack of transparency around early-season postponements. Emma Hayes: I don't care. I'm too busy preparing the team for the week. (Author: Gardener)

ChelseaChelsea manager Emma Hayes says she respects Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall but, in response to his argument about the WSL games being postponed, insisted: "I don't care." A 1-0 win over Birmingham on Sunday remained top of the table Chelsea are four points ahead of Arsenal ahead of Wednesday's north London derby against Tottenham in the Emirates, a game the Gunners must win to take the title to the final day of the season. Eidevall, whose side beat Aston Villa 7-0 earlier in the day, recently suggested Chelsea rearrange January's games to avoid being without star striker Sam Kerr while she was at the Asian Cup. He said last week: "I guess for me I wasn't focused on Chelsea when they rearranged all their games in January so Sam Kerr didn't have to miss any games because of the Asian Cup. I'm just concentrating on Arsenal to get as many points as possible and then we'll see where we are in the table." In response to these comments, Hayes later told Sky Sports: "I don't care. I'm too busy preparing the team for the week. I think Arsenal have had a great season and are rightly going into the last game, they're still struggling to become champions and that's what we wanted to see for the league. Chelsea asked to play a game against Tottenham in January because of a high number of Covid cases and injuries in their squad. Their match against Everton was also postponed, but at the request of the opposition, also due to a high number of Covid cases and injuries. Arsenal had to withdraw due to the Asian Cup in January Lydia Williams, Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley and Mana Iwabuchi are all without and lost to Birmingham during this period while other games have been postponed Sky Sports - All 35 games will be available on Sky Sports' flagship channels including Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event Sky Sports digital - Follow the latest WSL news via skysports.com and the app, including exclusive features and I nterviews, as well as dedicated live blog coverage and in-game clips of matches shown live on Sky Sports. Watch free match highlights from every WSL game this season on Sky Sports' digital platforms and YouTube channel. Sky Sports News - Running 24 hours a day, seven days a week Barclays FA WSL fans can enjoy Sky Sports News (channel 409) which provides editorial coverage of the league and its storylines throughout the season. The half-hour programme, which will air weekly on Sky Sports Premier League from Thursday 9 September, will review and preview the matches, provide in-depth analysis and exclusive player interviews. Sky Sports Social - In addition to league coverage and visibility on all major Sky Sports social media channels, a new bespoke Twitter channel @SkySportsWSL will be the home of all Barclays FA WSL content on Sky Sports. To add all Barclays FA WSL matches to your calendar, click here

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Unlikely heroes emerge as Mikel Arteta's young side regain control of the Champions League battle

After losing to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton, few would have predicted Arsenal would then beat Chelsea, Manchester United and West Ham in quick succession. Against West Ham, it was Rob Holding's turn to show himself as an unlikely hero as he helped Arsenal to a 2-1 win. (Author: Gardener)

Mikel Arteta'sAfter losing to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton, few would have predicted Arsenal would then beat Chelsea, Manchester United and West Ham in quick succession. Nor would many have said that the likes of Eddie Nketiah and Mohamed Elneny would be at the heart of those victories. Against West Ham, it was Rob Holding's turn to show himself as an unlikely hero as he helped Arsenal to a 2-1 win. It wasn't a great performance from the Gunners, with even manager Mikel Arteta describing them as 'ugly', but they dug deep to unearth the result and nobody embodied that dismal effort more than Holding. The centre-back has been on the periphery this season, playing second fiddle to Ben White and Gabriel and essentially taking on the role of defensive super-sub when Arsenal need to watch a game. For that trip to West Ham, however, Holding was given the chance to start as White was injured with a tight hamstring. Holding took his chance and opened the scoring with a header from a corner before throwing his body onto the line while Arsenal held on to their narrow lead. "The contribution he (Holding) is making in terms of minutes isn't very noticeable, but the contribution he's making to the team is huge," Arteta said. “He's someone like Mo [Elneny]. It says a lot about the spirit at Arsenal that Holding and Elneny have barely played this season but came in at crucial times and made their contribution. Keeping the players happy hasn't always been easy for Arteta, but while this slimmed-down squad has given him problems, it's also allowed him to create a greater sense of togetherness. A strong influence in the dressing room off the field, Arteta values ​​him as one of his trusted lieutenants. A strong first XI is of course crucial to success but the role of the squad must not be overlooked and has caused problems at Arsenal in the past. The dressing room wasn't always the happiest place, but now it's noticeable how the players on the sidelines are fully in the boat, even if they have limited chances to play. “That's how it was, Ben and Gabi have been great all year and if I had to come and try to help us secure the three points it's crucial for us, so play the full 90 and take the three points fetching is even better,” said Holding. Arsenal's squad clearly needs to be strengthened and deepened but, like last summer, ensuring the right characters are signed will be crucial. In Holding, Arteta has someone who emphatically ticks that box.

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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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Mikel Arteta guarantees he avoids 'painful' Arsenal memories after West Ham win

Using last year's disappointment as a motivator, Mikel Arteta and his team are beginning to see the rewards as they move closer to Champions League football after yet another crucial win (Author: Gardener)

West HamUsing last year's disappointment as a motivator, Mikel Arteta and his team are beginning to see the rewards as they move closer to Champions League football after yet another crucial win after getting the job done after a 2-1 win over West Ham , to move up to fourth place and again above Tottenham to return to Champions League football. Arsenal recorded their third straight win after Rob Holding opened the scoring and headed home a Bukayo-Saka corner that was later canceled out by a Jarrod Bowen strike. But the Gunners remained focused and determined, fighting hard to come out on top as Gabriel headed home in the second. With just four games left before the end of the regular season, the Gunners sit fourth, two points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham. As things stand, Arteta's side will play in the Champions League next season but the big question still remains: can they hang on to it? Last year, the north London side failed to qualify for any form of European football for the first time in 25 years. Arteta admitted how hard he's been following European competitions without being there with Arsenal. "In the last few days it hurt to turn on the TV and see those teams there and not see Arsenal there, it was painful." But one thing is for sure, the Emirates have used that as a motivator this season. As Arteta put it earlier in the season: “I don't want to sit out of these competitions with Arsenal. Will Arsenal finish in the top four this season? Arsenal sit their next front row challenge for the Gunners after a crucial win over West Ham is Leeds at home next weekend. It promises to be a tough game against a team desperate to put points on the board and avoid potential relegation. Jesse Marsch's side are currently 17th on 34 points, just two points After Everton clinched a hard-fought 1-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday, the Gunners slipped out of the relegation zone. After finding their own form with a 3-1 win against Leicester on Sunday there is no room for blips, especially considering they were on Thursday 12 May in a game that was mutually beneficial for both sides of will be crucial, will be traveling to Spurs , and a tasty affair even for the neutral I will possibly determine the outcome of the two teams which team will compete in next year's Champions League and Europa League. A trip to Newcastle follows just four days later ahead of the final day of the season in their home game against Everton.

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Arsenal clinched a hard-fought win at West Ham, with both centre-backs scoring

Arsenal are well past caring about how they win their points or who scores their goals. (Author: Gardener)

West Ham* Rob holding and Gabriel header enough to earn Arsenal three points * Jarrod Bowen had equalized for West Ham, who made five changes * Arsenal returned to fourth place in the Champions League race, two points clear of Tottenham Arsenal are long gone moreover, worrying about how they score points or who scores their goals. In that unspectacular but potentially decisive win at the London stadium, Arteta's side had to look far uglier than they had in previous games against Chelsea and Manchester United. The ultimate proof of this came on the scorers list, which featured the unexpected names of centre-backs Rob Holding and Gabriel Magalhaes. If only West Ham United had had some centre-backs of their own Arsenal might not have been able to score at all. West Ham's minds and hearts are focused on Europe, where they meet Eintracht Frankfurt in Thursday's Europa League semi-finals, rather than their domestic competition. Moyes made a number of changes here, resting the likes of Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio, and his players lacked spark in the last third. Arsenal were far from at their best as playmaker Martin Odegaard was never fully involved in the game, but at this stage of the season it's really only the points that count. Tottenham's win over Leicester City had pushed Arteta's side down to fifth, so this was a win that restored their place in the top four and restored a two-point gap.

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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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