Luton 3-4 Arsenal: Gunners ‘showing spirit’ with another late winner

5 December 2023 0 By Total Football News

Declan Rice celebrates his late winner for Arsenal against LutonDeclan Rice’s goal was the second time this season he has scored in the 90th minute

“Great teams find a way to win a game of football.”

Premier League leaders Arsenal were seconds away from leaving Kenilworth Road with a draw that would have given Liverpool the chance to move above them when they play Sheffield United on Wednesday.

Instead, Mikel Arteta’s side have gone five points clear – at least for 24 hours – as they continue to show the sort of fight needed to ensure they are in the title battle for longer than they were last season.

“That that could be an absolutely vital three points at the end of the season,” McCoist, commentating on the game for Amazon Prime, added.

Former Everton boss Roberto Martinez said: “It is a winning mentality. Luton were going to make it difficult but Arsenal found away.”

Gunners boss Arteta called it “a beautiful win”, adding: “Luton are so good at set pieces and they made us really fight for the game.”

Arsenal showing the right mentality?

Injuries and fatigue played a key role as Arsenal’s title challenge fell away last season as Manchester City were crowned champions, but the players’ mentality also came into question after they twice gave away two-goal leads in the crucial latter stages of the campaign.

This time, however, they are displaying a never-give-up attitude that has seen them score a number of late winners.

Rice’s goal against Luton was the second he has scored after the 90th minute, having also done so in the 3-1 win against Manchester United back in September.

The Gunners have taken nine points thanks to goals scored in the final five minutes of matches.

“It is another late winner and you have to admire and respect that because that is a team that doesn’t give up,” former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer said on Amazon Prime.

It was an assessment Arteta agreed with.

“The team showed spirit, quality, courage to go and go again,” he added. “We never gave up and tried to the end.

“Big credit to the team, the way they go every three days is remarkable.”

Raya errors remain a concern

David Raya lets Ross Barkley's shot go under him and into the goalDavid Raya let Ross Barkley’s shot go under him to make it 3-2 to Luton

Despite the battling display, Arteta was understandably disappointed his side had to score four goals to get the three points.

“It’s something we have to improve, conceding three goals from home makes life difficult,” he said.

“Credit to the opponent, they did really well and cause problems to any team.”

No team has made more mistakes leading to goals than Arsenal this season (five) and their cause was not helped by an error-strewn display by goalkeeper David Raya.

Aaron Ramsdale played in all 38 of Arsenal’s Premier League games last season but was dropped early into this campaign as Arteta favoured Raya, who joined in the summer on loan from Brentford.

But Raya made two mistakes against Luton, failing to deal with a corner as Elijah Adebayo headed in and then allowing Ross Barkley’s shot to go under his legs.

“It is the obsession with having a footballing goalkeeper nowadays that the fundamentals are forgotten – shot stopping and coming to collect crosses and we saw them punished this evening,” Shearer added.

“It would’ve been far more difficult if his team hadn’t bailed him out but sometimes you need that. His team-mates have helped him out big time tonight.”

Martinez feels the scrutiny on which goalkeeper Arteta picks is now putting the player in question under additional pressure.

He added: “The goalkeeper is the only position you can’t have doubt. It’s a position you need to be full of confidence but now what we’re seeing is whoever’s in goal for Arsenal, they’re not feeling confident. They’re so fearful.”

But despite those defensive concerns, Arsenal’s fourth consecutive win in the Premier League puts the pressure back on their rivals at the top of the table.

However, Gunners legend Thierry Henry accepts it is still far too early to entertain title talk.

“They were behind the eight-ball tonight and managed to win the game… but we saw it last year,” he said. “They won at Aston Villa in the last minute and everyone said ‘it’s our year’.

“Let’s relax, it’s great and you can carry momentum. “It allows the team to believe they can do it. It allows the team to believe if they go down they can come back in a game. But it’s a long road.”

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