Erik ten Hag ‘annoyed’ at loss to Arsenal
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Stricken Arsenal star Gabriel Jesus waited in the Emirates Stadium tunnel to congratulate match-winner Eddie Nketiah on his two goals against Manchester United on Sunday. The move exemplifies the excellent mentality that head coach Mikel Arteta has cultivated as the Gunners moved one step closer to winning the Premier League title.
Nketiah struck a 90th-minute winner in a 3-2 victory over the Red Devils, which takes Arsenal five points clear of Manchester City with a game in hand. The 23-year-old is standing in for the injured Jesus, who will remain absent for several weeks after suffering a knee injury at the World Cup.
So it said a lot about Jesus’ team-player character when he waited to congratulate his main competition for the No 9 spot after Sunday’s clash. The former Man City star could be seen making a beeline for Nketiah before embracing the ex-England U21 captain.
Arteta has worked hard to change the culture at Arsenal and appears to be reaping the rewards. Jesus was signed as part of a concerted effort to improve the mentality of the Arsenal squad.
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The Spaniard said after signing Jesus: “Start with his character, the person, the smile and what he represents as a human being. Then he’s an incredible professional, with his work ethic and enthusiasm. You will see it the first day he puts on his boots and enters the training pitch; he has the enthusiasm that he is going to create on his own on that pitch.”
It said a lot that Jesus felt compelled to congratulate the player who has effectively taken his place. Given that Nketiah has fitted into the role seamlessly, the pair will compete fiercely for the No 9 position when Jesus returns from injury.
Nketiah was handed a new contract by Arsenal in the summer, with the club showing huge trust in a player who had often flattered to deceive in his brief appearances. But the former Chelsea academy prospect has taken his game to a new level this season and Arteta has been delighted with his performances.
“The qualities that he has, how much he wants it, how much belief he has to be Arsenal number nine, his desire, his background. We are with him every single day. He’s a special kid,” Arteta said on Sunday.
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“He’s so loved by everybody at the football club. He’s got a real Arsenal heart and that’s very special. You cannot put that into numbers, but he’s really, really good.”
Nketiah had missed a crucial chance just before grabbing the winner with a prodded, typically clinical finish. Arteta added that the attacker never shies away after missing opportunities.
The Arsenal boss continued: “The next time he’s going to try again. He’s going to miss chances, and he’s going to miss more chances this season, I guarantee you that the next one he’s going to try to do that again. He’s not going to hide.”
Nketiah’s goal struck a major blow to United’s chances of winning the Premier League for the first time in 10 years. The Red Devils are now 11 points behind the north Londoners and have played a game more.
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