Mikel Arteta said Arsenal’s 4-2 win at Brighton proved the Premier League leaders have the “desire” required to lift the title for the first time since 2004.
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Arteta’s side will go into the new year with a formidable seven-point lead over second placed Manchester City after they powered to a fifth successive league victory.
Goals from Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Eddie Nketiah set the Gunners on course to cement their unexpected status as serious title contenders.
Kaoru Mitoma reduced Brighton’s deficit before Martinelli raced half the length of the pitch to finish off Odegaard’s sublime pass.
Brighton substitute Evan Ferguson claimed his first Premier League goal in the closing stages, but Arsenal survived a nervous finish to make it nine league wins from 10 games.
“It’s a big win against a really good side. We had big moments, especially attacking the spaces with the way they play. We were ruthless, clinical,” Arteta said.
“We had some great moments, and also moments when we have to dig in and suffer. You expect that against Brighton.”
After squandering a golden opportunity to qualify for the Champions League with a late collapse in the Premier League last term, Arsenal found themselves written off as also-rans ahead of this season.
But Gunners boss Arteta has worked impressively to revitalise his team, sparking dreams among their fans of winning a first English title since Arsene Wenger’s “Invincibles”.
Arsenal’s haul of 43 points from 16 games is among the five best starts to an English top-flight season, with the other four teams all going on to claim the title.
“You can’t expect to not concede anything with the way they play. It’s a big test for us, but we win two in a row after the break and now on to the next one,” Arteta said.
“I think we have enough desire. We know the other results, but we know our success will be from what we do.
“This is what we want to continue, to improve as a team and play better, to dominate all the areas like today. We had to suffer but we show we could manage the game.”