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Mikel Arteta hails ‘a big win’ after Arsenal beat Aston Villa

Bukayo Saka scored the only goal of the game to move Arsenal four points clear of Manchester United.

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Mikel Arteta applauds at the end of Arsenal’s victory over Aston Villa (Nick Potts/PA)

Mikel Arteta applauds at the end of Arsenal’s victory over Aston Villa (Nick Potts/PA)

Mikel Arteta applauds at the end of Arsenal’s victory over Aston Villa (Nick Potts/PA)

Mikel Arteta hailed a big three points after Arsenal held on for a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa.

The result saw the Gunners bounce back from defeat by Liverpool in midweek and move four points clear of Manchester United with a game in hand in the race to qualify for the Champions League.

Arteta had complained about the scheduling, with Arsenal having to play at lunchtime having hosted Liverpool on Wednesday evening, and he said: “It was a big win.

“After the defeat against Liverpool we wanted to come here and play well first, which we did, and get the three points because we want to keep the momentum going. I think the team showed today a lot of personality to come and play the way we played. We dominated the game.”

Bukayo Saka scored the only goal in the 30th minute and shone during the first half before being substituted with 20 minutes left.

“He was really fatigued and after Liverpool he had an issue with his hip,” said Arteta. “He’s played a lot of minutes and you could tell. We don’t want to risk (anything). He needs to go with England now and we decided the best thing to do was to take him off.”

Arteta added that both Saka and Brazil’s Gabriel Martinelli, who missed out through illness, should be fit for international duty but keeper Aaron Ramsdale’s hip injury will keep him out of England’s forthcoming matches.

Villa improved after not managing a shot in the first half and hit a post through Ollie Watkins but boss Steven Gerrard was left frustrated at the final whistle.

He said: “We didn’t deserve anything after that first-half performance, I thought we were second best. I thought Arsenal played really well, controlled a lot of the first half.

“I thought we had too much respect for Arsenal. We lacked belief in ourselves collectively. It wasn’t really until the game got into the second half where we started showing anything near where I wanted it to look.

“No complaints in terms of the overall scoreline. We could have snatched something at the end, I thought we were a lot more positive, created more.”

It was another disappointing result for Villa against a team above them, and Gerrard added: “One hundred per cent we’ve got to have respect for the run they’re on, how much they’ve improved. Mikel’s done a fantastic job.

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“But if we’ve got any ambition, from the top to the bottom of the club, when we’re at home we need to go and grab these performances, we need to go and try and grab these positions off people who are above us in the league.”

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