Mikel Arteta praises Arsenal for ‘winning ugly’ against West Ham as Sky Sports pundits hail Eddie Nketiah’s impact

Mikel Arteta praises Arsenal for 'winning ugly' against West Ham as Sky Sports pundits hail Eddie Nketiah's impact

Mikel Arteta praised his Arsenal side for “winning ugly” as they claimed a 2-1 victory over West Ham to move back above Tottenham into fourth place in the Premier League.

The Gunners were not at their fluid best at the London Stadium but emerged victorious thanks to headed goals by centre-backs Rob Holding and Gabriel Magalhaes either side of Jarrod Bowen’s equaliser.

West Ham subjected the Gunners to long periods of pressure as they tried to respond in the second half but Arteta’s team defended resolutely to move two points above Spurs and within three of third-placed Chelsea following their defeat against Everton.

“We won ugly and big teams have to find a way to win ugly when they don’t play at their best,” Arteta told Sky Sports.

“With the ball we were really poor. We lacked composure, dominance to play the game we wanted to play, but we found a way through set pieces, through defending extremely well.

“To win here is credit to the boys. They showed the spirit we have.

“I’m still digesting a lot of things we didn’t do right, but as a team to grow in confidence and to continue with the moment we have, we’ve won against three big teams in a row.”

Redknapp: Nketiah gives different dimension

Holding was named man of the match at the London Stadium but the Sky Sports punditry team were also full of praise for Eddie Nketiah.

The striker did not get on the scoresheet but proved a menace to West Ham throughout after keeping his place in the side ahead of Alexandre Lacazette.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Arsenal’s win against West Ham

“Nketiah has given Arsenal a different dimension,” said Jamie Redknapp.

“When you’ve got a player like Lacazette, who can’t run in behind, he’s always coming to the ball.

“It’s fine, he links the play, lovely, but you need to spread the play.

“You need to stretch teams and that is what Nketiah does.

“He gives the team a release and it changes the whole complexion of the game.”

Souness ‘amazed’ by Nketiah’s contract situation

Graeme Souness, meanwhile, described Nketiah as the standout performer and said he is “amazed” Arsenal have not tied the 22-year-old to a new contract.

Nketiah has been offered terms by the Gunners, but has so far rejected their proposals, with his current deal running out at the end of the campaign.

Eddie Nketiah stretched West Ham on the break repeatedly
Eddie Nketiah stretched West Ham on the break repeatedly

“I thought Nketiah was the best player on the pitch against West Ham,” said Souness. “He was always threatening.

“His contract is about to run out? I’m amazed by that.

“He will not be short of teams wanting him. He looked a threat throughout and he’s up for the fight.

“I really like him and against West Ham, I thought he was fabulous.

“He’s put himself in the shop window. If that is his general standard, he will not be short of teams wanting to take him.”

Smith: Nketiah may change his mind

Alan Smith feels Nketiah may yet feel encouraged to change his mind on his Arsenal future if he gets more playing time between now and the end of the season and finished the campaign strongly.

“They’ve offered him a new contract but because he’s played so little football, he wants to play regular football,” Smith said.

“He’s not doing himself any harm whatsoever with the way he is playing at the moment, and that might just encourage him to think that next year I might get more games.

“I think he would get more games playing like this.

Gabriel gestures to the crowd as he celebrates Arsenal's equaliser (AP)
Gabriel gestures to the crowd as he celebrates Arsenal’s winner

“If you move away, the chances are it is going to be a step down for him. It’s going to be a mid-table Premier League side that signs him, you’d imagine.”

“He added: “When he’s come on as a sub this season, I think he’s just jogged around too many times and he hasn’t contributed enough, but you saw the way he’s closed down against West Ham.

“He did it against Chelsea for his goal when Andreas Christensen played a short back pass.

“His overall game is much better and he’s putting himself about.

“I think his hold-up play has got better too. There were times when he was backing into his man and getting his body in between ball and defender.

“So, it’s clear that is something he’s trying to bring into his game.”

Smith continued: “He’s always looking on the shoulder of a defender, he’s got a bit of pace about him and he’s always got the whites of the posts in mind. He was unlucky not to score against West Ham.

“Nketiah’s emergence has come just at the right time for Arsenal because Alexandre Lacazette looked like he’d done all he could do this season.

“To come in and do what he’s done is fantastic.”

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