Steve Cooper’s side came into the tie buoyed by their defeat of Liverpool the week before but were met with a more stable Arsenal side. The Gunners took the opportunity to make a statement by winning a match they were expected to win, and winning it in the most emphatic of fashions.
Goals from Gabriel Martinelli, Reiss Nelson, Thomas Partey and captain Martin Ødegaard helped Arsenal see off their visitors in front of their very enthusiastic home support. Arsenal continue their brilliant start to life in the Premier League and with two game weeks left before the international break, are poised to end the year as league leaders.
Martinelli opened the scoring in the fifth minute when Bukayo Saka, who shook off a challenge in the opening minute, powered on and provided a clever assist for him to finish. Saka eventually had to be taken off for Reiss Nelson, whose addition to the game proved vital for the Gunners.
Nelson, who spent last season on loan at Feyenoord in the Dutch Eredivisie and had not scored a goal for Arsenal since November 2020, came on for only his first league appearance of the season. He began the second half rout in the 49th minute of the game and grabbed a second three minutes later.
Goals from Thomas Partey in the 57th minute and Ødegaard in the 78th minute wrapped up their second biggest victory under Arteta’s leadership and established them as genuine title contenders.
The win was the boost they needed ahead of their UEFA Europa League fixture against F Zurich to try and claim the top spot in their group, following their 2 – 0 loss to PSV Eindhoven last Thursday. It was also their first Premier League home clean sheet since March.
Speaking after the game, Arteta praised Nelson’s influence and hinted at the dressing room support the 22-year-old is enjoying. “I think not only me but all his team-mates, all the staff are so happy for him because he is a kid that is really changing, he’s really evolving, he’s really maturing,” the Arsenal manager said of Nelson.
“He’s showing every day how much he wants it and today he had the opportunity and he did extremely well because it helped us win the game.”
Arteta was also asked about Nelson’s state of mind following his return from Feyenoord. “How mature he is, how focused he is in his profession,” the Spaniard said.
“The way he talks, the way he reflects, the way he respects decisions, the way he is challenging everybody every single day.
“He is a joy of a kid. We all want him to be successful and do well. What he has done today for the team is something he really merits.”