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Arsenal 2-0 Luton Town: Smith Rowe earns Arteta praise after Gunners go top

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Mikel Arteta singled out Emile Smith Rowe for praise following Arsenal’s win over Luton Town tonight.

Smith Rowe had a hand in both goals as the Gunners returned to the top of the Premier League – for 24 hours at least – with a 2-0 win at the Emirates.

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He won the ball from Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu to start a move that was finished by Martin Odegaard for the opener and then fired in a low cross that clipped the heel of Hatters defender Daiki Hashioka for Arsenal’s second.

Arteta, who made five changes from the side that drew 0-0 at Manchester City on Sunday, told TNT Sports: “I was really impressed with him. He has been training really well and we felt the game could suit us.

“I love him as a player. He can help with all his skills. He’s a joy to watch, he helped us a lot to win the game today.”

Smith Rowe himself told BBC’s MOTD: “It really felt good for me. It was really important for me to try and put in a good performance and nothing better than doing that at home in front of our fans.

“For the boys who haven’t played as much it was important we put in a performance and I think we did.

“It shows the strength in depth of this team that players when they come in have to put in a performance.

“If we keep getting three points everyone is happy. I just have to make sure I am ready all the time.”

The first half was one-way traffic as Arsenal dominated with Luton finally showing some attacking intent after the break.

“I’m very happy. It was a really difficult game and credit to Luton, they are a very good side and made it difficult for us,” Arteta added.

“We scored two really good goals in the first half, in the second half because of the way they play we didn’t get the right rhythm.

“I am so happy with the boys who came in, they made a difference. Now we have a bigger squad with nearly everyone fit and available.”

Luton remain in the relegation zone, three points behind Nottingham Forest, but boss Rob Edwards liked elements of his side’s display.

He said: “Parts of it were exceptional. After we went 1-0 down we saw a bit more of us, we were a bit braver and committed to be the team we wanted to be.

“I saw so many good things out there today. I thought the second half was an excellent performance by us.

“To stay in the game and still be in the game late on was really pleasing. We were aggressive but when we got into the final third we were lacking that final pass.

“I am really proud of the lads. It is hard to be at our best but we have come to Arsenal and lost 2-0 – that happens to many teams. There is no shame in that, I thought there were loads of good things.

“Tonight was never going to define our season. [Saturday’s opponents] Bournemouth in the last 20 games are around fifth in the table so it won’t be easy, but our focus goes onto Saturday.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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