Goalscorer Reiss Nelson and Man of the Match Alexandre Lacazette revealed Mikel Arteta’s inspired half-time teamtalk did wonders for a lethargic Arsenal, who won despite a scare by a bullish Leeds side during their FA Cup tie on Monday evening.
Leeds were bullish but brilliant, looking set to inflict the cup’s biggest shock of Round Three on Monday night, in a televised fixture, as Arsenal started to slip into the lethargic ways that plagued Unai Emery’s final months in charge before the turn of the decade.
However, Arteta’s inspired teamtalk at half-time – which involved a lot of shouting – proved a much-needed wake-up call for his players, who recovered from their slumber to burst out of the blocks and create chances aplenty as their newfound energy and purposeful play ultimately proved too much for Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
Nelson, who netted his second goal of the campaign with the matchwinner, had this to say:
“I think emotions [after the win] are high. They played very well in the first-half, of course Leeds are a great team, they pressed us and we didn’t expect it. We got the final goal in the end, which was most important.”
Lacazette meanwhile, didn’t mince words when asked about what Arteta said to the players at the break:
“He shouted a lot. He was not happy because we knew they were going to play like this and didn’t respect what he said, but second-half we played better and thank you Reiss for the goal.”
On what it’s been like working under Arteta, Reiss revealed seeing the Spaniard’s aggressive side was refreshing to see – having made seven appearances in the last month with him and Freddie Ljungberg at the helm.
“I think that’s good, as a coach you need to have an aggressive side and of course, the loving side too. In training, we’re always told to press with passion and play with a purpose.
I think you saw that at times – we played out wide, up the middle and it’s all paying off. Two wins at the Emirates [beat Manchester United 2-0 on January 1], it gives us confidence going to the Crystal Palace game, where we have to carry on going forward.”
Quotes’ source: BBC One’s live post-match interview