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Arteta lauds Saka hunger after Arsenal put pressure on Man City

SoccerNews in English Premier League 4 May 2024

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Mikel Arteta lauded the consistency of Bukayo Saka and his increased hunger to win after Saturday’s routine 3-0 victory over Bournemouth at Etihad Stadium.

The Gunners swept aside Bournemouth as Saka’s penalty opened the scoring before late second-half finishes from Leandro Trossard and Declan Rice sealed another much-needed victory.

With two games to spare, Arsenal have equalled their Premier League win tally from last season (26), only in 1930-31 (28) and 1970-71 (29) have the Gunners won more games in a single top-flight campaign.

That is in large part thanks to Saka, who became the first player to score 20 goals for Arsenal in a season (all competitions) since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in 2019-20 (29 goals).

He is also the first Englishman to do so for the club since Theo Walcott in 2012-13 (21 goals) and Arteta was quick to praise star winger Saka.

“The level of consistency compared to last year is very similar,” the Arsenal manager said at his post-match press conference.

“There are areas he’s better in. I see a different edge to him in the way he competes. He loves winning more than three months ago.”

Kai Haverz won Saka’s first-half penalty, though Bournemouth may feel the Arsenal forward triggered contact with goalkeeper Mark Travers.

The Cherries also had a goal disallowed at 2-0 down when Dominic Solanke was adjudged to have fouled David Raya before Antoine Semenyo turned into an empty net.

A lengthy VAR check followed both decisions but Arteta refused to comment on either incident, suggesting he had not seen them back yet.

“The honest answer is I haven’t seen any of the incidents because I knew you were going to ask me,” he added.

“They said do you want to see it and I said no so I can give you an honest answer!”

All 10 of Arsenal’s outfield starters attempted at least one shot in this game, the first time this has happened in a Premier League game for the Gunners since January 2022 against Burnley.

Gabriel Magalhaes almost got in the act but his strike was ruled out late on for offside, before Rice managed to add gloss to a dominant performance.

Rice was playing for West Ham last season as Arsenal capitulated in the title race against Man City, though the England international is hoping for a different outcome this time around.

“I wasn’t here last year but I can sense that we are embracing it,” the Arsenal midfielder told TNT Sports as Man City prepare to host Wolves later on Saturday.

“Man City are a machine and they don’t lose many. Anything can happen in football. Surprises can happen and miracles can happen and we just have to stay focused.”

Arsenal will continue to go about their business in hope of Man City slipping up, the Gunners have won 14 of their 16 Premier League games in 2024 (D1 L1), scoring 51 goals and conceding just eight in reply.

Indeed, the Gunners have won the most points in the competition since the turn of the year (43), but Arteta’s side remain reliant on favours from elsewhere in the title race.

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