Arsenal returned to Premier League action on Boxing Day, coming from behind to beat West Ham at the Emirates and after the game Mikel Arteta highlighted three things the players showed on the pitch that helped them do that.
With Arsene Wenger back at the Emirates for the first time since he left the club, Arsenal put on a show that he clearly would have enjoyed.
Mikel Arteta’s men fell behind before the half hour mark when Mark Clattenburg awarded a penalty for foul by William Saliba on Jarred Bowen.
The touch was slight but it was enough to interfere with his stride and if it had been at the other end, I would have wanted it.
However, you rarely see that sort of penalty given and the decision angered a lot of Arsenal fans. That’s the problem when it comes to referees and Arsenal. The decisions officials make are usually (although not always) technically correct, so when Arsenal fans complain about them, they are easily dismissed.
But it is the application of those rules that is the issue. Time and time again we see decisions go against Arsenal that are rarely ever called against other teams, including Arsenal, often in the same game.
Technically correct those decisions may well be. Applied consistently they certainly are not.
Arsenal went in at the break a goal down and the evening started to feel eerily familiar, one that would be decided by marginal calls that just didn’t break Arsenal’s way.
We’d seen this movie many times before.
But this is a different Arsenal team. Week after week they show us why we are wrong to doubt them as they write different endings.
Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah all scored between the 53rd and 69th minute to rip the points away from West Ham. David Moyes can have no complaints about the final result.
Arsenal had 16 shots to West Hames, eight, played 657 passes to their 331. This result was never really in doubt, even if our own trauma made it feel like it was.
After the game, Arteta was understandably pleased. When he was asked about the character Arsenal showed to come back from a goal down, he highlighted three things the team showed that enabled that.
“Yeah, for sure – really happy with their performance first of all, and then the results,” Arteta said.
“And really the context of the game was that they were a goal up after a situation, a very single situation that they had attacked an open space where the referee decided to award their pen.
“And then you see the reaction of this crowd generating belief and just giving a lot of energy to the team.
“And the team showed, I think, in my opinion, a lot of composure, some real quality, as well as a lot of clarity to understand what the game demanded, and they executed really well.”
Composure, quality, clarity.
Next up for Arsenal is a difficult trip to Brighton on New Year’s Eve.