Mikel Arteta hailed the impact of Thomas Partey after he made his comeback from injury during last night’s 4-0 thrashing of Everton.
The Gunners took advantage of their game in hand and exacted a measure of revenge on Sean Dyche’s side who had beaten the league leaders at Goodison Park last month.
A brace from Gabriel Martinelli allied to goals from Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard helped Arsenal move five points clear at the top of the table, but it wasn’t until the half-time introduction of Partey that they really took control of the game.
January signing Jorginho had played a key role in back-to-back wins over Aston Villa and Leicester in the absence of Partey, but he was off the pace during the opening 45 minutes against Everton which Mikel Arteta put down to illness.
‘I’m really happy,’ Arteta told reporters in his post-match press conference. ‘It was a game that we had in hand against an opponent that we knew was going to make life really difficult for us and we expected that at Goodison.
‘We started the game with some frustration and not really understanding what we had to do, allowing them to run in certain transitions, but after 25 minutes I think we start to get much better and the timing of the two goals was key.
‘We needed a magic moment there and Alex and Bukayo produced that, and then I think the team grew, especially with Thomas because Jorginho wasn’t feeling good today. When he came on he really gave us some presence and stability to the team and I think the second half was superb.’
With struggling Bournemouth visiting the Emirates on Saturday, Arsenal have an opportunity to solidify their status as title favourites but Arteta refused to be drawn on whether his team are deserving of that status.
He added: ‘You know my answer there! What I like is that everybody has the enthusiasm to do it, and we’re not going to stop that.
‘We have to promote that but the way to promote that is by looking at this game and understanding that we have to do a lot of things better, especially in the first half.
‘We can play better and make sure we prepare really well against Bournemouth because that’s going to be a tough game.’We can play better and make sure we prepare really well against Bournemouth because that’s going to be a tough game.
‘I think we are here because we work how we work and we have really good players, and we have an incredible connection with our people so everything adds to the table and we have to continue to do that.
‘With my players, I am going to control what they do in the next hour so they are better.’