Bukayo Saka paid tribute to both Arsenal fans and technical staff as the Gunners kept their excellent run going and maintained a gap of five points between themselves and Man City at the top of the Premier League table.
The north London club came from behind to beat Manchester United 3-2 on Sunday, meaning they’ve lost just once in 19 top-flight matches this term and not at all since September - at Old Trafford against the same opponent.
It was Saka who put Arsenal ahead for the first time in the game on this occasion shortly after half time, with Eddie Nketiah ultimately poaching the winner in the final minute to spark joyous scenes among the home support.
“You can see how much it means to everyone, they are the only team to beat us and we wanted to win in front of our fans,” Saka told Sky Sports after the match. “It wasn’t easy, it was not our best start to a game but we showed a lot of character.”
Probed as to what was the crucial reasons behind Arsenal’s unbeaten streak, which now stretches to 13 games in the league, the winger pointed to a raucous atmosphere inside the Emirates Stadium even after Marcus Rashford opened the scoring for the visitors - before Saka himself matched former Gunners icons Freddie Ljungberg and Thierry Henry in scoring in three consecutive games against United.
“Hello Freddie and Thierry!” he joked. “I’m happy that I got the first one and it gave me confidence to keep shooting. [The win] is significant but we have to stay humble as its only halfway [through the campaign]. If we continue we’ll be in a good place at the end of the season so let’s keep it up.
“Firstly the belief we have in the team [has played a big role in staying top], especially at the Emirates. You can see the fans cheering for us at 1-0 down and it makes a big difference. Also the way the coach is setting us up.”
Match-winner Nketiah, who had earlier equalised at 1-1, acknowledged he was prepared for frustration when a VAR notice went up on the scoreboard as he wheeled away to celebrate heading into stoppage time.
“We wanted it bad, we kept pushing and thankfully got the breakthrough. It’s just being alert and being around [the box], chances are going to fall when you’ve got players like [Saka] so I kept going and I knew I’d get a chance.
“I saw [Lisandro] Martinez next to me so I knew I was onside! But your heart goes a bit when you see the purple [VAR sign] come up.”
Man United left-back Luke Shaw said the defeat handed a reminder to the team that there remained work to do, but insisted they had to bounce back fast given the upcoming run of fixtures.
“In the second half we were a bit passive, we let them control it completely. To concede right at the end is gutting, we were fighting all the way and in games like this you need to be concentrated for the full game,” he said.
“We were aggressive and winning the ball high up the pitch, the first half went well, but second half we backed off a bit. They were having chances and towards the end of the game they are always going to get one more big one. You have to give Arsenal credit for what they’ve done this season, they deserve to be top.
“But we’re only halfway, there’s a long way to go and we’ve got a big semi-final coming up. It’s a bit of a reality check.”