Mikel Arteta was left marvelling at the chemistry between Arsenal’s young stars after the 2-0 victory over West Ham moved them into fourth.
Arteta, who also refused to say whether ousted captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would play in the next game against Leeds on Saturday, saw his side move into the Champions League spots for the first time this season thanks to goals from Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe.
Nearly a year ago, Arsenal were beaten 2-1 at Everton and sat just four points above the drop zone, before Arteta began introducing youngsters like Smith Rowe and man-of-the-match Bukayo Saka to the senior side. Despite “bumps along the way”, the Spaniard is delighted with the way his side have transformed and praised the influence of senior players.
“I think [the young players] were really good, all of them, and the senior players led by example. We had some sound performances needed to beat this team. I am really pleased. It’s important for Gabi [Martinelli] to score a goal like he did today.
“It helps because they know each other, some of them are from the academy, and the chemistry is there. I really like the link and the senior players are contributing and really enjoy helping the boys raise.”
Ten of Arsenal’s 23 Premier League goals this season have been scored by players aged 21 or younger, the most by any team this season.
“They are really positive signs, but the way the team is playing, we have made progress, but there is still a lot to do. We had some bumps in the road, but we have learned a lot since then. We have had to stick together and have to stick together, the staff and the players.
“The biggest compliment is the way we have our crowd behind us. To see that chemistry is unique and I am so proud of that.